I Ching Hexagram 55 - Feng / Abundance (Fullness)

hexagram 55
  • Above Chen the Arousing, Thunder
  • Below Li the Clinging, Fire


Chen is movement; Li is flame, whose attribute is clarity. Clarity within, movement without-this produces greatness and abundance. The hexagram pictures a period of advanced civilization. However, the fact that development has reached a peak suggests that this extraordinary condition of abundance cannot be maintained permanently.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

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Abundance has success. The king attains abundance. Be not sad. Be like the sun at midday.

Judgement Commentary

It is not given to every mortal to bring about a time of outstanding greatness and abundance. Only a born ruler of men is able to do it, because his will is directed to what is great. Such a time of abundance is usually brief. Therefore a sage might well feel sad in view of the decline that must follow. But such sadness foes not befit him. Only a man who is inwardly free of sorrow and care can lead in a time of abundance. He must be like the sun at midday, illuminating and gladdening everything under heaven.

The Image

Both thunder and lightning come: The image of Abundance. Thus the superior man decides lawsuits and carries out punishments.

Image Commentary

This hexagram has a certain connection with Shih Ho, Biting Through(21), in which thunder and lightning similarly appear together, but in the reverse order. In Biting Through, laws are laid down; here they are applied and enforced. Clarity [Li] within makes it possible to investigate the facts exactly, and shock [Chen] without ensures a strict and precise carrying out of punishments.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: When a man meets his destined ruler they can be together ten days and it is not a mistake. Going meets with recognition.

To bring about a time of abundance, a union of clarity with energetic movement is needed. Two individuals possessed of these two attributes are suited to each other, and even if they spend an entire cycle of time together during the period of abundance, it will not be too long, nor is it a mistake. Therefore one may go forth, in order to make one's influence felt, it will meet with recognition.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 62 - Hsiao Kuo / Preponderance of the Small. When the junior or less experienced joins with the senior, more experienced they can jointly bring about good things. This line being junior, is encouraged to seek out and ally itself with experienced, higher ranked, help. Legge says "...mutual helpfulness is the great instrument for the maintenance of prosperity." The resultant hexagram 62, Preponderance of the Small, suggests that the partnership will prosper as long as it sticks to achieving small things, "Small things may be done; great things should not be done."

Six in the second place means: The curtain is of such fullness that the polestars can be seen at noon. Through going one meets with mistrust and hate. If one rouses him through truth good fortune comes.

It often happens that plots and party intrigues, which have the darkening effect of an eclipse of the sun, come between a ruler intent on great achievement and the man who could effect great undertakings. Then, instead of the sun, we see the northern stars in the sky. The ruler is overshadowed by a party that has usurped power. If a man at such a time were to try to take energetic measures, he would encounter only mistrust and envy, which would prohibit all movement. The essential thing then is to hold inwardly to the power of truth, which in the end is so strong that it exerts an invisible influence on the ruler, so that all goes well.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 34 - Ta Chuang / The Power of the Great. Bad influences rule the ruler. Through no fault of his own this lines ability will not be available to a leader who could use him. All that can be done is to maintain ones dignity and in the end his influence will be felt. Legge shares this view "If he go and try to enlighten his ruler ...he will make himself to be viewed with suspicion and dislike." The outcome is hexagram 34, The Power of the Great, "...inner worth mounts with great force and comes to power." This success is accompanied by a warning "...there is danger that one may rely entirely on one's own power and forget to ask what is right." Beware!

Nine in the third place means: The underbrush is of such abundance that the small stars can be seen at noon. He breaks his right arm . No blame.

The image is that of a progressive covering over of the sun. Here the eclipse reaches totality, therefore even the small stars can be seen at noon. In the sphere of social relationships, this means that the prince is now so eclipsed that even the most insignificant persons can push themselves into the foreground. This makes it impossible for an able man, though he might be the right hand of the ruler, to undertake anything. It is as though his arm were broken, but he is not to blame for being thus hindered in action.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 51 - Chen / The Arousing (Shock, Thunder). The bad influences of the previous line have made any contribution by this line impossible. This is not our fault. Legge states this line "...has no one to co-operate with him." The resultant hexagram is 51, The Arousing (Shock, Thunder). We face terrifying times, if we stay calm and self possessed we will come through better off than we started.

Nine in the fourth place means: The curtain is of such fullness that the polestars can be seen at noon. He meets his ruler, who is of like kind. Good fortune.

Here the darkness is already decreasing, therefore interrelated elements come together. Here too the complement must be found-the necessary wisdom to complement joy of action. Then everything will go well. The complementary factor postulated here is the reverse of the one in the first line. In the latter, wisdom is to be complemented by energy, while here energy is complemented by wisdom.

Changing only this line createsHexagram 36 - Ming I / Darkening of the light. In this line the rulers are beginning to come to their senses and good advice is starting to have its effect. Meeting with leadership finds them in accord and acceptance therefore good fortune. Legge's version of this line says "Here the darkness is already decreasing, therefore interrelated elements come together." The resultant hexagram 36, Darkening of the light, shows that notwithstanding the general tenor of darkness lifting there is still much darkness and danger about. Be very careful in such times as these.

Six in the fifth place means: Lines are coming, blessing and fame draw near. Good fortune.

The ruler is modest and therefore open to the counsel of able men. Thus he is surrounded by men who suggest to him the lines of action. This brings blessing, fame, and good fortune to him and all the people.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 49 - Ko / Revolution (Molting). When power has good advisers both benefit. This line is able to achieve great success because of this. Legge is also happy here as this line "...shows its subject bringing around him the men of brilliant ability. There will be occasion for congratulation and praise. The results will be admirable." The resultant hexagram is 49, Revolution an augury that great changes are in play "On your own day you are believed. Supreme success." Go ahead with confidence.

Six at the top means: His house is in a state of abundance. He screens off his family. He peers through the gate and no longer perceives anyone. For three years he sees nothing. Misfortune.

This describes a man who because of his arrogance and obstinacy attains the opposite of what he strives for. He seeks abundance and splendor for his dwelling. He wishes at all odds to be master in his house, which so alienates his family that in the end he finds himself completely isolated.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 30 - Li / The Clinging, Fire. Seeking to aggrandize only oneself leads to lonely isolation. How can this be good? Legge says that the subject of this line has his (material)wealth greatly increased at the expense of even his family "...left to himself without any helpers. He is isolated for long, and undone." The resultant hexagram 30, The Clinging, prescribes the antidote to this stubborn fools problem, "By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world."

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 55 - Feng / Abundance (Fullness) translation of this hexagram.