I-Ching Hexagram Twenty One, Biting

I-Ching 64 Hexagrams > 21.Biting

I-Ching-Hexagram Twenty-One – Biting




Biting something in your mouth.

Justice is done.


Hexagram Twenty-First Biting is the hexagram of an image.

It is like biting food inside cheeks.

It looks like someone is going to open the month and bite food.

Therefore this hexagram (Biting) is called Biting.

Biting food implies one has obtained something.

When one has obtained something, one has to know whether it is poisonous or not.

One has to evaluate whether it is right or wrong.

Never be cheated by what one has seen.


This hexagram (Biting) also implies types of punishments.

In 1st line of this hexagram (Biting), toes are clamped to punish a criminal.

In 6th line of this hexagram (Biting), punishments are related to a head.

One’s neck was braced by a cangue so one will lose ears.

If one asks about the result of a lawsuit, one who gets this hexagram (Biting) will likely be jailed.


The upper trigram of this hexagram (Biting) is Fire whereas the lower trigram of this hexagram (Biting) is Thunder.

It means it is lighting up above and moving below.

It has a meaning that one takes rational actions and be mature.

It is Thunder insider and Electricity (Lighting up like a Fire) outside.

These represent internally one is acting positively and externally one has an acute vision to analyse things.

Therefore, one can discover the minutest detail in everything.


This hexagram (Biting) explains one has the characters and talents to make the difficult decisions related to punishments

Comparing it with this hexagram (Biting), Hexagram Twenty-Two Adornment is the situation the emperor tries not to punish the people

The situations of this hexagram (Biting) and Hexagram Twenty-Two Adornment are totally opposite.

This hexagram (Biting) follows Hexagram Nineteenth Arrival and Hexagram Twenty Beholding.

In Hexagram Eighteenth Poison, there are corruptions in a country and the emperor makes great efforts to build a strong state.

At the beginning, two methods of building a strong state mentioned in Hexagram Nineteenth Arrival and Hexagram Twenty Beholding are applied.

In Hexagram Nineteenth Arrival, one inspects subordinates and the people in person and understands the condition of the citizenry.

In Hexagram Twenty Beholding, one announces and implements the orders in the country.

Afterwards, in this hexagram (Biting), punishments are implemented to prevent criminals from turning to crime again.

In Hexagram Twenty-Second Adornment, the emperor educates people through literature, art and feudal ethics.


This hexagram (Biting) pictures a scene of biting food inside cheeks.

It talks about how to chew and swallow food.

Why is this hexagram (Biting) related to punishments?


When one is eating food, food may have fish bones, chicken bones, fibers from vegetables.

The bones and fibers are called “stalks”.

One has to take them out and spit them so that one can swallow the food.

In ancient time, this theory was applied on government affairs such as types of punishments.

In government affairs, misconducts and villains are “stalks”.

They need to be removed to rule the people effectively.


Generally speaking, the one who has got this hexagram (Biting) carries out projects successful and earns money.

However, during the process of doing a project or earning money, there are many obstacles which may put him or her in jail

If one is asking the result of a lawsuit, one likely loses or even be put in jail.


[Summary of Hexagram Twenty-First – Biting]

Encountering many difficult problems.

Only a smart decision maker can handle the problems as complicated as settling a lawsuit.

Things will go smoothly because one is active and smart discovering the minutest detail in everything using “kindness and threat” strategies distinctively.

It is very difficult to make decisions related to settling a lawsuit.

The decision maker must be clever, firm and resolute.


This is a difficult issue. 

If one uses “kindness and threat” strategies and discovers the minutest detail in everything, the issue can be settled properly.

Although this hexagram (Biting) means problems can be solved, it is not really a good hexagram at all.



1st Line

Toes are braced by instruments of torture so toes are broken.

Because one has a small punishment, one will not make big and fatal mistakes.

Therefore, there are no faults.


Because one does not have authority and a right position to go ahead, one makes mistakes at the beginning.

Therefore, one is punished and one’s toes are braced by instruments of torture to stop one from making the same mistakes again.

Toes are broken due to the punishment.

One is punished due to trivial mistakes and hence, one avoids making a big mistake.

One gets a profit from this misfortune.

If one can correct and improve, one will not regret.


2nd Line


One is suffering from the pain caused by the punishment of losing a nose.

There is no fault.

1st line and 2nd line of this hexagram (Biting) are very similar.

Both situations are ones avoid making big mistakes as they have been punished.

There are differences between these two lines.

1st line of this hexagram (Biting) is vigorous and has yang energy, so precautions are taken at the beginning.

2nd line of this hexagram (Biting) is yin energy having the golden mean and one may be an accessory to the crime as this behavior is emulated from 1st line.


It can be explained in another way.

One eats the soft, crispy and delicious part of the meat with skin on top.

Therefore, the face is covered by the meant so a nose is not shown.

There is no fault.

It implies this is a simple case.


3rd Line


Eating hard, salted and dried meat.

The fat of the meat has stinky smell of many years’ standing.

Therefore, one is unhappy.

There is no fault.


Salted and dried meat has been expired and poisonous but you think it is good and fresh and have eaten the meat.

Therefore, you have food poisoning.

This is a trivial mistake so there is no big fault.


This implies old problems which exist for a long time and knotty are difficult to be solved.


4th Line


One has eaten firm and dried meat along the bones.

One is helped by a metal arrowhead.

It is toilsome but one keeps righteous all the time.

Therefore, good fortune will come.


One has eaten dried meat on bones.

This dried meat is tasty and is difficult to be eaten even though you have a sharp and metal knife to cut meat.

It is toilsome but the process is rewarding.

It is good fortune.


It implies it is difficult, complicated and not easy to deal with.

If one is working hard and tackle it properly, one will have good fortune.


5th Line

Having eaten the salted and dried meat.

Having obtained gold.

If one is faithful and can suffer from difficulties, there will be no faults.


This salted and fried meat is very firm but it is not as hard as the meat on the bones.

It is difficult to bite but not extremely difficult to do so.

One just needs to chew the meat for several times and the meat can be swallowed.

This shows the issue is a little difficult but not very difficult.


It is more difficult to eat meat than skin but easier to eat the meat on bones.

The taste of meat is moderate.

It represents the case you are going to judge is not easy but not difficult.

Because of this, one will likely neglect the case.

Therefore, the judge must have golden mean, be impartial and be unprejudiced.

Then, the judge can avoid mistakes and will not cause any regret.


6th Line


It is the guilty of the most heinous crimes.

One is braced with a cangue leading to losing ears.


It is difficult and long lasting but one has to avoid a punishment.

Finally, one is braced with a cangue as ears are cut.

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