I Ching Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan)

hexagram 37
  • Above Sun the Gentle, Wind
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


The hexagram represents the laws obtaining within the family. The strong line at the top represents the father, the lowest the son. The strong line in the fifth place represents the husband, the yielding second line the wife. On the other hand, the two strong lines in the fifth and the third place represent two brothers, and the two weak lines correlated with them in the fourth and the second place stand for their respective wives. Thus all the connections and relationships within the family find their appropriate expression. Each individual line has the character according with its place. The fact that a strong line occupies the sixth place-where a weak line might be expected-indicates very clearly the strong leadership that must come from the head of the family. The line is to be considered here not in its quality as the sixth but in its quality as the top line. The Family shows the laws operative within the household that, transferred to outside life, keep the state and the world in order. The influence that goes out from within the family is represented by the symbol of the wind created by fire.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

<-Prev Next->


The Family. The perseverance of the woman furthers.

Judgement Commentary

The foundation of the family is the relationship between husband and wife. The tie that hold the family together lies in the loyalty and perseverance of the wife. The tie that holds the family together lies in the loyalty and perseverance of the wife. Her place is within (second line), while that of the husband is without (fifth line). It is in accord with the great laws of nature that husband and wife take their proper places. Within the family a strong authority is needed; this is represented by the parents. If the father is really a father and the son a son, if the elder brother fulfills his position, and the younger fulfills his, if the husband is really a husband and the wife a wife, then the family is in order. When the family is in order, all the social relationships of mankind will be in order. Three of the five social relationships are to be found within the family-that between father and son, which is the relation of love, that between the husband and wife, which is the relation of chaste conduct, and that between elder and younger brother, which is the relation of correctness. The loving reverence of the son is then carried over to the prince in the form of faithfulness to duty; the affection and correctness of behavior existing between the two brothers are extended to a friend in the form of loyalty, and to a person of superior rank in the form of deference. The family is society in the embryo; it is the native soil on which performance of moral duty is made early through natural affection, so that within a small circle a basis of moral practice is created, and this is later widened to include human relationships in general.

The Image

Wind comes forth from fire: The image of The Family. Thus the superior man has substance in his words and duration in his way of life.

Image Commentary

Heat creates energy: this is signified by the wind stirred up by the fire and issuing forth form it. This represents influence working from within outward. The same thing is needed in the regulation of the family. Here too the influence on others must proceed form one's own person. In order to be capable of producing such an influence, one's words must have power, and this they can have only if they are based on something real, just as flame depends on its fuel Words have influence only when they are pertinent and clearly related to definite circumstances. General discourses and admonitions have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, the words must be supported by one's entire conduct, just as the wind is made effective by am impression on others that they can adapt and conform to it. If words and conduct are not in accord and consistent, they will have no effect.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: Firm seclusion within the family. Remorse disappears.

The family must form a well-defined unit within which each member knows his place. From the beginning each child must be accustomed to firmly established rules of order, before ever its will is directed to other things. If we begin too late to enforce order, when the will of the child has already been overindulged, the whims and passions, grown stronger with the years, offer resistance and give cause for remorse. If we insist on order from the outset, occasions for remorse may arise in general social life these are unavoidable but the remorse always disappears again, and everything rights itself. For there is nothing easily avoided and more difficult to carry through than breaking a child's will.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 53 - Chien / Development (Gradual Progress). Appropriate regulation of social and family relations is neccessary if either are to function properly. Correct at the beginning means correct at the end. This must be, of course appropriate for the circumstances and not go overboard. Legge shows "the necessity of strict rule in governing the family. Regulations must be established, and their observance strictly insisted on." The outcome predicted by hexagram 53, Gradual Progress suggests that following the formalities established by society will be the road to success.

Six in the second place means: She should not follow her whims. She must attend within to the food. Perseverance brings good fortune.

The wife must always be guided by the will of the master of the house, be he father, husband, or grown son. There, without having to look for them, she has great and important duties. She must attend to the nourishment of her family and to the food for the sacrifice. IN this way she becomes the center of the social and religious life of the family, and her perseverance in this position brings good fortune to the whole house. In relation to general conditions, the counsel here is to seek nothing by means of force, but quietly to confine oneself to the duties at hand.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 9 - Hsiao Chu / The Taming Power of the Small. Follow the rules, act in accordance to your position and responsibilities and all will be well. Legge symbolizes this as the wife "...taking nothing on herself, but in her central place attending to the preparation of the food." The outcome here is hexagram 9, The Taming Power of the Small, showing that although weak the small can restrain the strong if circumstances make that appropriate. The success you seek is not yet here, but the promise is, its near.

Nine in the third place means: When tempers flare up in the family too great severity brings remorse. Good fortune nonetheless. When woman and child dally and laugh it leads in the end to humiliation.

In the family the proper mean between severity and indulgence ought to prevail. Too great severity toward one's own flesh and blood leads to remorse. The wise thing is to build strong dikes within which complete freedom of movement is allowed each individual. But in doubtful instances too great severity, despite occasional mistakes, is preferable, because it preserves discipline in the family, whereas too great weakness leads to disgrace.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 42 - I / Increase. Allowing too much laxity in discipline can cause more problems than being to strict. As Legge says "If the wife and children were to be smirking and chattering, in the end there would be occasion for regret." The resultant hexagram is 42, Increase, and it would be well to remember this can be increase in the bad as the good. I see this outcome as positive "the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude."

Six in the fourth place means: She is the treasure of the house. Great good fortune.

It is upon the woman of the house that the well-being of the family depends. Well being prevails when expenditures and income are soundly balanced. This leads to great good fortune. In the sphere of public life, this line refers to the faithful steward whose measures further the general welfare.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 13 - T'ung Jen / Fellowship with Men. A good wife manages a happy house. When people generally are happy and productive in their roles, the family, organization or country does well. Legge's interpretation concentrates on the family "...shows its subject enriching the family. There will be great good fortune." Then resultant hexagram 13, Fellowship with Men implies, in this circumstance, a happy association between all of the people involved here. "It is not the private interests of the individual that create lasting fellowship among men, but rather the goals of humanity."

Nine in the fifth place means: As a king he approaches his family. Fear not. Good fortune.

A king is the symbol of a fatherly man who is richly endowed in mind. He does nothing to make himself feared; on the contrary, the whole family can trust him, because love governs their intercourse. His character of itself exercises the right influence.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 22 - Pi / Grace. This line knows how to preserve discipline and harmony in his household and this produces good fortune. Manage those you are responsible for in the same way. As Legge has it, a good husband "...tempers the display of the strength and power." The outcome predicted by hexagram 22, Grace, is success in small matters. Such a good line seems to produce small results. Make sure you follow the example of the correct behaviour for this line discussed above or you will not get all of the good things promised here.

Nine at the top means: His work commands respect. In the end good fortune comes.

In the last analysis, order within the family depends on the character of the master of the house. If he cultivates his personality so that it works impressively through the force of inner truth, all goes well with the family. In a ruling position one must of his own accord assume responsibility.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 63 - Chi Chi / After Completion. The head of the household, business or country provides the exemplar for everyone under their authority. In this line we see the right kind of example producing good results. One must not be excessively strict for as Legge says "...the subject of it might degenerate into stern severity, but he is supposed to be sincere, complete in his personal character and self-culture." This restraint is what produces the good fortune. The resultant hexagram is 63, After Completion, which indicates that good fortune is very possible here but there may be a last minute failure if we do not continue to exercise the values described by this line.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan) translation of this hexagram.