I-Ching Hexagram Forty-One, Decrease

I-Ching 64 Hexagrams > 41. Decrease

I-Ching-Hexagram Forty-One, Decrease


To reduce excess.

To give up shortcomings.

To remove desire.

To sacrifice benefits of oneself.


This Hexagram (Decrease) in Chinese is “Sun” meaning to remove or to reduce.

What shall be removed?

In terms of self-cultivation, it is to remove excess desire and bad habits.

In terms of ways of the world, it is to sacrifice benefits of oneself for the good of a great number of people.


In this Hexagram (Decrease), its upper trigram is Mountain and its lower trigram is Lake.

It is the sign of destroying inferiors and benefiting superiors.

This hexagram (Decrease) describes Mountains are above the ground and Lakes are flowing underneath the ground.

The ground is located between mountains and lakes.

Therefore, mountains are on the ground and lakes (water) are flowing under the ground.

The lakes reduce their depth to increase the height of the mountains.

This situation is similar to that dukes reduce their wealth and dedicate the wealth to the emperor.


The second explanation of this hexagram (Decrease) is to reduce hardness in order to benefits softness.

This can be explained through changing of lines in a hexagram and the energy of Yin and Yang.

This hexagram (Decrease) is being transformed from Hexagram Eleven Prospering.

Hexagram Eleven Prospering sacrifices its 3rd line of Yang line to exchange it with Yin line of its 1st line becoming this hexagram (Decrease).


This hexagram also has the meaning of removing desire.

It is happiness internally and stoppage externally.

One is happy but restraints one’s behaviour meaning one cannot do something.

One is moved by emotion but stopped for courtesy.


The idea of destroying inferiors and benefiting superiors can also be applied on reality which is gifts sending from dukes to the emperor.

Subordinates are sacrificed for their superiors.

One sacrifices benefits of oneself for the good of a great number of people.

In terms of self-cultivation, one sacrifices short-term benefits (e.g. suppress desire, give up bad habits, quit promiscuity) for long-term benefits (e.g. healthiness and fortune).

If one is asking for the advice of investment, this hexagram (Decrease) means to stop loss by giving up greatly depreciating properties.

In order to survive, ditch the worthless properties to exchange for a long-term benefit.


Therefore, this hexagram (Decrease) is related to self-cultivation.

This hexagram (Decrease) is about cultivation of one’s virtue and keeping oneself from harmful things.

Hexagram Forty-Two (Increase) is to spread the wisdom of virtue and self-cultivation and creating beneficial things.


The trigrams of this hexagram (Decrease) and Hexagram Forty-Two (Increase) are totally opposite.

This hexagram (Decrease) follows Hexagram Thirty-Nine Hindered and Hexagram Forty Releasing.

One loosens his hold on one’s behaviour, speeches & mind, so self-cultivation is being slow down.

In this case, to reduce (this hexagram-Decrease) bad habits is to restore one’s virtue.



[Summary of Hexagram Forty-One – Decrease]

To decrease.

Being sincere.

Good fortune.

There will be no fault and standpoints are firm.

There will be long-term benefits.


What gifts shall be dedicated?

Foods on two simple trays will be good enough for offerings.

If one is sincere, simple offerings will serve its purpose.


This hexagram (Decrease) is not bad.

On the contrary, it is a good hexagram.

If one is willing to sacrifice one’s benefits sincerely, one will gain more in future.


1st Line

Something has happened.

One should go to see what is going on quickly.

There is no fault.

Discuss how much it should be reduced.

Don’t reduce too much.


This is the beginning of this hexagram (Decrease).

As it is related to oneself, one should go to see what is going on quickly.

Then, one can avoid faults.

Suggest not to reduce so much quickly.

It is better to discuss first and then take action later on.


2nd Line

It is better to insist one’s standpoints.

It will be misfortune if one goes to war.

One should not sacrifice oneself.

On the contrary, one should strengthen oneself.


One is better holding what one has but not to go to war or not be too active.

If one is happy for what one has right now and keeps the situation stable, it is not a bad thing.

If one goes to war rashly, it will create obstacles.
Forestall.  Good fortune.

Go to war.  Misfortune.


Originally, this hexagram has the meanings of reducing inferiors and benefiting superiors.

However, this line is the middle line of the lower trigram of this hexagram (Decrease).

It is the virtue of moderation.

Although, it matches up with 5th line of this hexagram, it should not decrease to please 5th line.

On the contrary, one should insist to strengthen one’s virtue of moderation.

Therefore, one should not decrease but increase.



3rd Line

Three people go together.

One person will be eliminated.

If one goes, things will be achieved and one will have friends.


If three people go together, they will doubt one another and will spoil the project.

It may eliminate one person.

If one goes alone, one will get friends of the same wavelength who will match up with him.

Therefore, one is better going alone but not in a group of people.



4th Line

Remove sickness.

Happy news will come quickly.

There is no fault.

This line has much to worry and it is meek due to its Yin line.

However, this line matches up with this Yin position.

This line is helped by 1st line of this hexagram (Decrease).

This can redeem the shortcoming of this line.

Therefore, it is good fortune.


5th Line

There are ten turtles coming to help.

Good fortune.


In ancient time, tortoise-shells are sacred treasure of answering questions - Ancient Chinese carried out divination using the plastrons of tortoise shells.

There is a strict procedure to choose, handle and store tortoise-shells.

Therefore, helped by tortoise-shells is similar to helped by divine.

Ten turtles mean many deities coming to help so no one violates god’s will.

Therefore, one is helped by god.



6th Line

One should not decrease but should increase.

There is no fault.

Being loyal and righteous. Good fortune will come.

There will be long-term benefits.

One has got a helpful minister and forgotten selfishness in the interest of the public.


This line is the end of this hexagram (Decrease) which will be changed into Hexagram Forty-Two, Increase.

Therefore, one shall not reduce.

This line is supported by 5th line of this hexagram (Decrease) and matches up with 3rd line of this hexagram (Decrease).

This is the situation that inferiors act to benefit superiors.

Therefore, it is getting a helpful minister.



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