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The I Ching for Android

hieroglyph Diminishing (sǔn). Decreasehexagram 41 Diminishing (sǔn). Decrease

41. Diminishing (sǔn). Decrease


Do not mourn the losses; look at them as a holy sacrifice. But do not sacrifice beyond measure. Too big gift is a product of pride.

Inital text of I Ching

The Judgement

Decrease combined with sincerity brings about supreme good fortune without blame. One may be persevering in this. It furthers one to undertake something. How is this to be carried out? One may use two small bowls for the sacrifice.

The Image

At the foot of the mountain, the lake:
The image of Decrease. Thus the superior man controls his anger and restrains his instincts.

  1. Going quickly when one's tasks are finished is without blame. But one must reflect on how much one may decrease others.
  2. Perseverance furthers. To undertake something brings misfortune. Without decreasing oneself, one is able to bring increase to others.
  3. When three people journey together, their number decreases by one. When one man journeys alone, he finds a companion.
  4. If a man decreases his faults, it makes the other hasten to come and rejoice. No blame.
  5. Someone does indeed increase him. Ten pairs of tortoises cannot oppose it. Supreme good fortune.
  6. If one is increased without depriving others, there is no blame. Perseverance brings good fortune. It furthers one to undertake something. One obtains servants but no longer has a separate home.


Much depends on you. Inner freedom is great - self-restraint is necessary, otherwise chaos will prevail, exhaustion. The inner truth is the basis of everything. You can act, but quickly and prudently. Success is in small matters, it is not the time for great things. Work moderately; do not spend a lot of energy. If you start a great thing – you have no enough energy and everything will turn into losses. Do not sacrifice a lot - just a small sacrifice made with pure thoughts.

Richard Wilhelm's commentary

This hexagram represents a decrease of the lower trigram in favor of the upper, because the third line, originally strong, has moved up to the top, and the top line, originally weak, has replaced it. What is below is decreased to the benefit of what is above. This is out-and-out decrease. If the foundations of a building are decreased in strength and the upper walls are strengthened, the whole structure loves its stability. Likewise, a decrease in the prosperity of the people in favor of the government is out-and-out decrease. And the entire theme of the hexagram is directed to showing how this shift of wealth can take place without causing the sources of wealth can take place without causing the sources of wealth in the nation and its lower classes to fail.


Decrease does not under all circumstances mean something bad. Increase and decrease come in their own time. What matters here is to understand the time and not to try to cover up poverty with empty pretense. If a time of scanty resources brings out an inner truth, one must not feel ashamed of simplicity. For simplicity is then the very thing needed to provide inner strength for further undertakings. Indeed, there need by no concern if the outward beauty of the civilization, even the elaboration of religious forms, should have to suffer because of simplicity. One must draw on the strength of the inner attitude to compensate for what is lacking in externals; then the power of the content makes up for the simplicity of form. There is no need of presenting false appearances to God. Even with slender means, the sentiment of the heart can be expressed.


The lake at the foot of the mountain evaporates. In this way it decreases to the benefit of the mountain, which is enriched by its moisture. The mountain stands as the symbol of stubborn strength that can harden into anger. The lake is the symbol of unchecked gaiety that can develop into passionate drives at the expense of the life forces. Therefore decrease is necessary; anger must be decreased by keeping still, the instincts must be curbed by restriction. By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched/


It is unselfish and good when a man, after completing his own urgent tasks, uses his strength in the service of others, and without bragging or making much of it, helps quickly where help is needed. But the man in a superior position who is thus aided must weigh carefully how much he can accept without doing the helpful servant or friend real harm. Only where such delicacy of feeling exists can one give oneself unconditionally and without hesitation.


A high-minded self-awareness and a consistent seriousness with no forfeit of dignity are necessary if a man wants to be of service to others. He who throw himself away in order to do the bidding of a superior diminishes his own position without thereby giving lasting benefit to the other. This is wrong. To render true service of lasting value to another, one must serve him without relinquishing oneself.


When there are three people together, jealousy arises. One of them will have to go. Avery close bond is possible only between two people. But when one man is lonely, he is certain to find a companion who complements him.


A man's faults often prevent even well-disposed people from coming closer to him. His faults are sometimes reinforced by the environment in which he lives. But if in humility he can bring himself to the point of giving them up, he frees his well-disposed friends from an inner pressure and causes them to approach the more quickly, and there is mutual joy.


If someone is marked out by fate for good fortune, it comes without fail. All oracles-as for instance those that are read from the shells of tortoises-are bound to concur in giving him favorable signs. He need fear nothing, because his luck is ordained from on high.


There are people who dispense blessings to the whole world. Every increase in power that comes to them benefits the whole of mankind and therefore does not bring decrease to others. Through perseverance and zealous work a man wins success and finds helpers as they are needed. But what he accomplishes is not a limited private advantage; it is a public good and available to everyone.

Barbara Hejslip interpretation

Be generous to people; in fact that you today give them, tomorrow the destiny will return to you with percent{interests}. Perhaps, now it seems to you, that you are unduly prodigal; do not think of this, do not fall up to commercialism, and you will generously rewarded. Time favours to considering of plans and intellectual activity. The majority of your desires will be executed, and you will collect much more, than sowed.