Hexagram #28 Excess of the Great

When the great is excessive, the ridgepole bends. It is good to go somewhere; that is developmental.

 Excess of the great means there is an excess of yang energy. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Lake ☱, joyous, and below is Wind ☴ entering. Going along with what is inside, delighting in externals, following what one desires, when happiness culminates it produces grief. In the body of the hexagram, inside are four yangs and outside are two yins; yang exceeds yin, and yin does not come up to yang — therefore it is called excess of the great.

In spiritual alchemy, the path of the gold elixir, we take two times eight ounces of the polar energies and congeal them into an embryo; it requires that the great and small be undamaged, and both realms be complete. If yang energy is too strong and yin energy too weak, then yin and yang are not in harmony, and you lose the path of continual renewal; when yin culminates there will be decay, and when yang culminates there will be deterioration — going on in this way, the trouble of "the ridgepole bending" and breaking is inevitable. When the ridgepole snaps, the whole house falls down. In the same way, practitioners of the Tao who promote yang too much, who do not know when enough is enough, who can be great but cannot be small, suffer damage to their spiritual house.

What superior people see in this is that just as a great excess of moisture can destroy wood, so can a great excess of talent and intelligence in people destroy their character. Therefore they take the model of water rising above wood in the sense of standing alone without fear, and take the model of wood descending below water in the sense of concealing themselves and being free from distress; thus they accomplish the will of a person of exceeding greatness, and perfect the character of a person of exceeding greatness.

Because superior people who practice the Tao consider essence and life to be the most important matter, they look down upon all existents as empty of absoluteness, being like a clear lake unsullied by the dust of objects. They make use of the phenomena of the world to practice the principles of the Tao, playing a unique tune on an individual harp. Unmoved by the prospects of life or death, they stand aloof of all things without fear. Like the flexibility of wood, they have talent but do not presume upon it, they have intelligence but do not rely on it. Though simple in appearance, they hold a treasure; concealing their illumination and nurturing it in obscurity, they do not seek to be known to others. They are hidden in a profound privacy and have no distress.

If you can proceed like the wind without becoming too intense, being harmonious and easygoing without clinging, mastering the ability to adapt to changes, preventing danger and being aware of perils, then firmness and flexibility will correspond, yin and yang will balance each other: Though great, you can avoid excess, so that it is beneficial to go somewhere — consummating essence and perfecting life, you develop without hindrance.   -- Liu Yiming, Hexagram #28 Excess of the Great, The Taoist I Ching
Return to the Individual Hexagrams page

Hexagram #28 Excess of the Great

On the left the Liushutong characters and on the right the present shape of the characters
for Hexagram #28 Excess of the Great

The Kinkakuji, the Golden temple, symbolizing the spiritual house, Kyoto, Japan

A Harp with six strings and six women
clapping, Egypt.