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25. Wu Wang [No Falsehood]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Wu Wang indicates great progress and success, while there will be advantage in being firm and correct. If (its subject and his action) be not correct, he will fall into errors, and it will not be advantageous for him to move in any direction.

No expectations.
To have no expectations is supremely blessed.
It is favorable to remain as one is.
Improper conduct brings misfortune.
It is not favorable to advance.

[Christensen] 25 - 无 妄 The Unforeseen  
无 妄 元 亨 利 貞 其 匪 正 有 眚 不 利 有 攸 往 The basic [remedy] to make unforeseen situations go well is to correct [beforehand] whatever is not in order. During an eclipse it will not be of advantage to go towards any destination.

[Pearson] (wú wàng) Not False
If you are without falsity, then your persistence will be effective. But if someone is not as they should be, you will have disasters. If you have a goal, it will not prosper.

[Redmond] 25. 无妄 Wu Wang Unexpected
25.0 Begin with an offering, beneficial to divine. Those not upright will lack vision. Not beneficial if having to go somewhere 元亨, 利貞. 其匪正有眚. 不利有攸往.

[Legge] Wang is the symbol of being reckless, and often of being insincere; Wu Wang is descriptive of a state of entire freedom from such a condition; its subject is one who is entirely simple and sincere. The quality is characteristic of the action of Heaven, and of the highest style of humanity. In this hexagram we have an essay on this noble attribute. An absolute rectitude is essential to it. The nearer one comes to the ideal of the quality, the more powerful will be his influence, the greater his success. But let him see to it that he never swerve from being correct.

Comments on the Thwan

In Wu Wang we have the strong (first) line come from the outer (trigram), and become in the inner trigram lord (of the whole figure); we have (the attributes of) motive power and strength; we have the strong line (of the fifth place) in the central position, and responded to (by the weak second):—there will be 'great progress proceeding from correctness; such is the appointment of Heaven.

'If (its subject and his action) be not correct, he will fall into errors, and it will not be advantageous for him to move in any direction:'—whither can he (who thinks he is) free from all insincerity, (and yet is as here described) proceed? Can anything be done (advantageously) by him whom the (will and) appointment of Heaven do not help?

[Legge] The advocates of one trigram's changing into another, which ought not to be admitted, we have seen, into the interpretation of the Yi, make Wu Wang to be derived from Sung (No. 6), the second line there being manipulated into the first of this; but this representation is contrary to the words of the text, which make the strong first line come from the outer trigram, i.e. from Khien. And so it does, as related, not very intelligibly, in [Appendix 5, Par. 14], Kan, the lower trigram here, being the eldest son,' resulting from the first application of Khwan to Khien. The three peculiarities in the structure of the figure afford the auspice of progress and success; and very striking is the brief and emphatic declaration, that such progress is 'the appointment of Heaven.'

Great Symbolism

The thunder rolls all under the sky, and to (every)thing there is given (its nature), free from all insincerity. The ancient kings, in accordance with this, (made their regulations) in complete accordance with the seasons, thereby nourishing all things.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The composition of the hexagram is given here in a manner different from what we have met with in the account of any of the preceding figures; and as the text is not called in question, I have made the best I could in the translation of the two commencing clauses. The application of the symbolism to what the ancient kings did is also hard to comprehend.


1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject free from all insincerity. His advance will be accompanied with good fortune.

100111 changing to 000111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.1

He advances without expectations.

[Christensen] 初 九﹕ 无 妄 往 吉 Beginning 9: To go without knowing exactly where is good.

[Pearson] Nine in the first place: If you can proceed without falsity, you will have good fortune.

[Redmond] 25.1 Unexpectedly, going is auspicious. 初九无妄, 往吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] When 'he who is free from insincerity makes any movement,' he will get what he desires.

[Legge] The first line is strong; at the commencement of the inner trigram denoting movement, the action of its subject will very much characterise all the action set forth, and will itself be fortunate. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The paragraph on line 1 is another way of saying that in the course of things real goodness may be expected to be fortunate,—'by the appointment of Heaven.'

2. The second SIX, divided, shows one who reaps without having ploughed (that he might reap), and gathers the produce of his third year's fields without having cultivated them the first year for that end. To such a one there will be advantage in whatever direction he may move.

100111 changing to 110111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.2

He reaps a harvest
   without having cultivated the land.
The fields lie ready
   without having been ploughed.
It is favorable to advance.

[Christensen] 六 二﹕ 不 耕 穫 不 菑 畬 則 利 有 攸 往 Second 6: Do not plough when the field is ready for harvest and do not break soil that is already broken; but it will be fruitful to have in view a goal to go towards.

[Pearson] Six in the second place: If you reap without plowing, or plant without preparing the earth, then you ought to have somewhere else to go.

[Redmond] 25.2 No tilling; no reaping. No clearing; no cultivation. Then beneficial if having to go someplace. 六二不耕穫. 不菑畬. 則利有攸往.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He reaps without having ploughed:'—(the thought of) riches to be got had not risen (in his mind).

[Legge] Line 2 is weak, central, and in its correct place. The quality may be predicated of it in its highest degree. There is an entire freedom in its subject from selfish or mercenary motive. He is good simply for goodness' sake. And things are so constituted that his action will be successful. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 2. 'The thought of getting rich had not risen in his mind:'—he did what he did, because it was right, not because of the gain it would bring him.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows calamity happening to one who is free from insincerity;—as in the case of an ox that has been tied up. A passer by finds it (and carries it off), while the people in the neighbourhood have the calamity (of being accused and. apprehended).

100111 changing to 101111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.3

Unexpected disaster.
Though the ox was tethered,
   it becomes the traveler's gain
   and the villagers' loss.

[Christensen] 六 三﹕ 无 妄 之 災 或 繫 之 牛 行 人 之 得 邑 人 之 災 Third 6: An unexpected disaster. A tied-up ox. A passer-by’s gain. The resident’s misfortune.

[Pearson] Six in the third place: An unexpected calamity. Since someone has tethered the ox. A traveler’s gain; a city dweller’s disaster.

[Redmond] 25.3 Unexpectedly, calamity. Their tied up ox—someone walked by and took it. Disaster for the country person. 六三无妄之災 — 或繫之牛行人之得. 邑人之災.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The passer-by gets the ox:'—this proves a calamity to the people of the neighbourhood.

[Legge] But calamity may also sometimes befal the best, and where there is this freedom from insincerity; and line 3 being weak, and in the place of an even line, lays its subject open to this misfortune. 'The people of the neighbourhood' are of course entirely innocent. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] On paragraph 3, it is said, 'The superior man seeks simply to be free from insincerity, and leaves the questions of happiness and calamity to Heaven.'

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows (a case) in which, if its subject can remain firm and correct, there will be no error.

100111 changing to 100011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.4

He may continue.
He will come to no harm.

[Christensen] 九 四﹕ 可 貞 无 咎 Fourth 9: This can be corrected so it has no faults.

[Pearson] Nine in the fourth place: If you can persist, no blame.

[Redmond] 25.4 Can divine; there will be no blame. 九四可貞; 无咎.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'If he can remain firm and correct there will be no error:'—he firmly holds fast (his correctness).

[Legge] Line 4 is the lowest in the trigram of strength, and 1 is not a proper correlate, nor is the fourth the place for a strong line. Hence the paragraph must be understood as a caution.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows one who is free from insincerity, and yet has fallen ill. Let him not use medicine, and he will have occasion for joy (in his recovery).

100111 changing to 100101

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.5

Unexpected illness
Is cured without drugs.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 无 妄 之 疾 勿 藥 有 喜 Fifth 9: For an unforeseen illness don’t use medicine, there will be happiness.

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: An unexpected illness: yet without medicine there will be joy.

[Redmond] 25.5 Unexpectedly ill; does not need medicine, happily. 九五. 无妄之疾; 勿藥, 有喜.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'Medicine in the case of one who is free from insincerity!'—it should not be tried (at all).

[Legge] Line 5 is strong, in the central place of honour, and has its proper correlate in 2. Hence its subject must possess the quality of the hexagram in perfection. And yet he shall be sick or in distress. But he need not be anxious. Without his efforts a way of escape for him will be opened. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 5. Sickness ought not to happen to one who is perfectly sincere. If it do happen, he must refer it to some inexplicable will of Heaven. As that has afflicted, so it will cure.'

6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject free from insincerity, yet sure to fall into error, if he take action. (His action) will not be advantageous in any way.

100111 changing to 100110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 26.6

He travels without expectations.
Disaster. No longer favorable.

[Christensen] 上 九﹕ 无 妄 行 有 眚 无 攸 利 Top 9: You go on without knowing exactly where to, but in [the darkness of] an eclipse there is nowhere beneficial to go.

[Pearson] Nine at the top: When the unexpected prevails, there are disasters. Nothing done under these circumstances will prosper.

[Redmond] 25.6 Unexpectedly walks into error. Not beneficial if having to go somewhere. 上九无妄行有眚.无攸利.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The action (in this case) of one who is free from insincerity' will occasion the calamity arising from action (when the time for it is) exhausted.

[Legge] Line 6 is at the top of the hexagram, and comes into the field when the action has run its course. He should be still, and not initiate any fresh movement. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 6. 'When a thing is over and done, submission and acquiescence are what are required, and not renewed attempts at action.'

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