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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

41: Decrease


Increase and decrease are part of the natural cycle of life. As another ancient good book put it, “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Like a reservoir used to irrigate the fields, learning to accept a temporary decrease — in position, feelings or material possessions — prepares the way for increase in the future.

We may live in materialistic times, but there is no disgrace in material decrease, if it represents an investment in future gain — even if that gain comes in the form of learning or development of personal character. Likewise, the inner strength that comes from bearing loss can be balanced by a corresponding increase in inner strength and insight. When letting go of material desires leads to greater simplicity in daily life, good fortune comes calling.

In nature, a lake evaporates to form clouds that drop rain, which nurtures the surrounding forest. As the forest grows thick, more rain is captured for the lake. Similarly, some evaporation of resources or decrease in one area of your life, will inevitably give rise to an eventual increase in another. A loss of responsibility at work can mean more free time, and more free time may generate more career options. Likewise, a decrease in material possessions can free the spirit and fill the soul.

Be mindful of the lesson of young lovers: even with minimal possessions, feelings of the heart can bring an unsurpassed richness to life. The smallest of actions, if sincere, have value. Remain confident, for a time of decrease may actually bode good fortune — especially if you remain open to that possibility.

Let go of frustration, resistance and regret over whatever may be decreasing at this time. Accept the cycle.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

If you want to be of service to others who have less, no blame. But you must be careful not to assume too much responsibility them, lest you deprive them of their dignity and a chance to advance through their own effort. Learn to be sensitive when taking on the burdens of others, and carefully avoid self-righteousness. Likewise, when the tables are turned, a mature person considers how much help he or she can accept without putting the helper at risk. Such deep consideration makes giving and receiving happen with ease over time, and without concern for decrease.

Line 2

In order to render true service to those who lack advantages, it is essential that you not compromise your dignity. A decrease in personal dignity growing out of excessive subservience to even a higher goal can lead to a decrease in performance as well as your feelings of personal worth, and is essentially counterproductive. To truly be of good service to others, you must take good care of yourself.

Line 3

If three people go off on a journey, one will drop out. If one goes out alone, a second will join up along the way. The strongest bonds and deepest relations are between two people; agreements among three people, no matter how lofty the intentions, are never as stable. Two’s company, three is a committee. Letting go of extraneous relationships at this time is called for.

Line 4

If your negative habits and personal faults are keeping others at bay, there is one solution. Straighten-up! When people let go of negative habits, new opportunities rush in to fill the void. In such a case, great good fortune will be yours.

Line 5

Natural good luck is here! Great good fortune is your destiny right now, and you need fear nothing. Enjoy. Invest. Higher energies are supporting you.

Line 6 (top line)

There are many different ways to acquire wealth, but the highest and most satisfying way is by increasing the collective good. For supremely successful and enlightened people, their increases cause no decreases for others. They have learned to advance by generating more for all -- not by maneuvering slickly to see that others get less than they do. The prosperity of such people is the good fortune of all of humankind.