25 Wu1 Wang4 無妄

The lower: Zhen (to move, the thunder). The upper: Qian (perseverance, heaven).

Wu Wang: no pretence, or no misbehaviour, or not thinking or doing what is undeserved. 






As a result of the return (of masculinity) (Fu) there is no pretence (不妄); therefore Wu Wang is granted. Yang (masculinity) is solid; nothing will be false after the return of solidity (i.e. a firm state which is signified as a real and true attitude in Chinese culture). wang4 originally meant luan4 (disorder), i.e. those without restraint marked by wild talk, misbehaviour, excessive ambition, etc. It extends to refer to that which is unreal, presumptuous or absurd. wu1 means there is not. Therefore Wu Wang of hexagram 25 can be signified as: no pretence, falseness, misbehaviour, or not thinking or doing what is undeserved. It is the discipline after masculinity recovers in hexagram Fu (24) and before it grows strong in hexagram Da Chu (26).

The upper trigram Qian is heaven, while the lower trigram Zhen is thunder and designated to move and act. The thunder is booming under the heavens; no one dares act pretentiously while moving beneath the wrath of Heaven.

Its inner hexagram is Jian4 (53), to progress gradually and sequentially, signifying to act in a pragmatic manner, step by step, and not to have a fondness for the grandiose. This is the essence of Wu Wang. Its changing hexagram is Sheng (46), rise which relates to the promo-tion of able people, signifying that people must possess no undeserved expectation before and after promotion.


Text: Wu Wang (no pretence, misbehaviour, etc), (which will lead to) great and smooth progress; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist (in acting according to the norm of Wu Wang)(If) acting not righteously, there will be a man-made calamity, (and) it is not advantageous (or appropriate) to go somewhere.

Commentary on the text: Wu Wang (no pretence, misbehaviour, etc), (the one of) rigidity (i.e. line 1) comes externally, and then takes charge of the internal; (Wu Wang is exhibited in the form of) moving (as the lower trigram Zhen is designated) and perseverance (like the behaviour of the upper trigram Qian)(The one of) rigidity (i.e. line 5) at the core position (of the upper trigram where the principle of moderation is available) has a correlation (with the lower trigram Zhen); (it attains) great and smooth progress by virtue of acting righteously, (which is) the mandate of Heaven.  (If) acting not righteously, there will be a man-made calamity, and it is not advantageous (or appropriate) to go some-where.  The advancement of Wu Wang; where does it go?  Not to be blessed by Heaven; how could it go?

Text explanation:

Acting according to the norm of Wu Wang will lead to great and smooth progress (of what is intended), and it is advantageous to persist. On the other hand, to act without it will lead to man-made calamity, and it is not advantageous (or appropriate) to undertake what is planned.

Trigram Zhen forms when a masculine line of trigram Qian enters trigram Kun and occupies the bottom position. Therefore masculine line 1 comes externally (i.e. from an outer trigram Qian as if coming from its external trigram) creating and representing the internal trigram, Zhen. Afterward, it takes charge of the internal (i.e. motivation in terms of human behaviour) and moves by following the upper trigram Qian, heaven, so that its words and deeds accord with the rule of Heaven; therefore there won’t be any pretence or misbehaviour.



Line 5, the host line of Wu Wang and representative of the upper trigram Qian, is a strong and firm masculine line that occupies the core position and possesses the principle of mode-ration. It also stays at its right position and acts righteously. Therefore the norm of Wu Wang, i.e. the righteous and moderate rule of Heaven, will enjoy great and smooth progress, like trigram Qian correlating with trigram Zhen. If line 5 changes to feminine and does not act righteously, Qian will disappear and the hexagram will become Shi He (21), where the weak are preyed upon by the strong, like the law of the jungle. It is a calamity caused by people’s misbehaviour. Therefore it is not advantageous to go anywhere or undertake anything when the law of the jungle predominates.

People who do not act in compliance with righteousness won’t be blessed by Heaven. Without the blessing of Heaven, where could they go?

Commentary on the image: Thunder booms under heaven; (every) thing complies with Wu Wang.  The late king, in accordance with this, cultivated all life by being mindful of the best time to prosper.

Thunder booms under heaven; all life is inspired after the revival in hexagram Fu (24). The late king realised this and followed the rule of Nature to cultivate and help them prosper in accordance with the right time.


Being pragmatic rather than pretentious will lead to the great and smooth progress of what is intended; it is advantageous or appropriate to persist. On the other hand, if one thinks or does what is undeserved, this will lead to calamity caused by one’s own misbehaviour; then it is not advantageous or appropriate to undertake what is planned.

Wu Wang possesses all four virtues (origination, smooth progress, advantage, and persistence) passed down by hexagrams Qian and Kun in the form of great and smooth progress, and persistence bringing forth benefit; this signifies that a pragmatic and righteous attitude is always successful.

The changing hexagram of Wu Wang is Sheng (46), to rise, signifying that refraining from thinking or doing what is undeserved leads to promotion.

Commentary on the image suggests that cultivating life according to the right time will help things prosper.






Wu Wang signifies not to be pretentious but pragmatic, refrain from misbehaviour, and thinking and doing what is undeserved. Trigram Qian is heaven and is constituted by the solid masculine, representing the norm of Wu Wang. The line stays at a position right to it, signifying that it acts righteously in accordance with the norm which is auspicious. Otherwise, a correction must be made, or it will be ominous.

Line 1 is the founding line; it is auspicious to act with the norm of Wu Wang from the beginning. Not having undeserved expectations is instrumental for line 2 when undertaking a planned task. Line 4 will be free from calamity as long as it stops acting when hypocritical thoughts occur. The illness of Wu Wang can be cured if line 5 resists the influence of pretence. Line 6 is destitute of the norm; this will be calamitous if it can’t last to the end. The undeserved and unexpected calamity befalls line 3, signifying that even though it follows the norm of Wu Wang; this doesn't guarantee freedom from calamity.

The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Wu Wang (no pretence); to go forward is auspicious.

Text explanation:

Founding line 1 comes from trigram Qian and occupies a position right for it, signifying that it possesses the norm of Wu Wang and acts righteously. It creates the lower trigram Zhen (to move) and represents it. Therefore it strides ahead with no pretence and does everything pragmatically; this is auspicious, especially as the norm of Wu Wang is undertaken right from the beginning.

Commentary on the image: The going-forward of Wu Wang (no pretence), (signifying it will enjoy) the successful realisation of its aspirations.

Line 1 possesses the norm of Wu Wang and represents the lower trigram Zhen; therefore Wu Wang is carried out and it will enjoy what it achieves.

Enlightenment through nine one: to act without pretence and in a pragmatic manner. To act pragmatically is auspicious; one can achieve what is intended. Should this line change to feminine and not act righteously, the hexagram would become Pi (12), stagnation and blockage, which signifies adversity and must be prevented.

The 2nd line

Text: Do not (anticipate) harvest while ploughing; do not (expect) a fruitful farm while just cultivating the barren land; then it is instrumental in going somewhere.

Text explanation:

To think or do what is undeserved follows from inordinate ambition. This is the moment to undertake action, but what can be done is still limited in this phase. Therefore one must be pragmatic and proceed in a prescribed order. This will facilitate the fulfilment of what is intended.

Line 2 stays at the position right to it and correlates with line 5, the representative line of the upper trigram Qian, i.e. the norm of Wu Wang. This signifies being inspired by the norm of Wu Wang and acting righteously in accordance with its guidance.

The original lower trigram Kun is earth; a masculine line enters it and occupies its bottom position, creating trigram Zhen (to move). Zhen moves beneath earth signifying that the field is being ploughed. It also denotes a seed sprouting through its coat and growing downward into the earth. Combined with the inner lower trigram Gen, which looks like a hand, this indicates cultivation. Both images indicate that this is just an initial stage; the harvest is not yet in sight.



Commentary on the image: Do not (anticipate) the harvest while ploughing, (signifying it is) not wealthy yet.

It is not wealthy yet, signifying that it is anticipating the harvest but is advised against this.

Enlightenment through six two: to act without undeserved desire. It is the moment to under-take what is intended, and it is auspicious if the planned task can be carried out pragmatically in the prescribed order. If this line changed to masculine and didn't act righteously, the hexagram would appear in the form of Lu (10), to tread on the tiger’s tail. Here the ambitious people can't go far, as the tiger will bite those who doesn't act according to etiquette, i.e. the order of a system. 


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject suffers) the calamity of Wu Wang (no misbehaviour); as if a tethered ox (is carried off by a passerby), (it is) the gain of the passerby, (but) the calamity of the villager.

Text explanation:

An ox tethered at the roadside is led off by a passerby, but the villager is convicted undeservedly. This is the calamity of Wu Wang, i.e. an undeserved and unexpected calamity.

The original lower trigram is Kun, denoting cattle, while the inner upper trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) is rope. The inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) is the nose and stopping; these images indicate that the ox was there and tethered.



Trigram Kun denotes people as well. It changes to trigram Zhen (to move), i.e. the passerby, after the masculine line replaces its bottom line. Apparently the ox disappears when the passerby arrives.


Trigram Kun also refers to a villager. When the lower trigram was Kun, both the villager and ox were there. But they disappear when the passerby arrives. This leads to the misunderstanding that the villager led the ox away. The calamity befalls the innocent villager; this is the unexpected calamity following the undeserved desires or actions of other people.



Also, from the perspective of the line's performance, line 3 isn’t at its right position. Even if it could misbehave without feeling ashamed in hexagram Pi (13), it will be punished by Heaven when the hexagram changes to Wu Wang, and what happens to it might extend beyond the current incident.

Commentary on the image: The passerby obtains the ox, (but) calamity befalls the villager. 

Enlightenment through six three: do one’s best to act according to the norm of Wu Wang and let Nature take its course. People must always act righteously according to the norm of Wu Wang; otherwise an unexpected calamity could befall like a punishment from Heaven. On the other hand, although following the norm of Wu Wang can help one avoid self-created calamity, Wu Wang can't guarantee freedom from underserved calamity. If this line changes to masculine and acts righteously, the hexagram will become Tong Ren (13), fellowship. Here it withholds action if it feels insecure.


The 4th line

Text: (The subject is) capable of persisting (in the norm of Wu Wang); (there will be) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

Masculine line 4 steps onto the upper trigram Qian, which represents heaven and the norm of Wu Wang. Although it doesn’t stay at a position right to it (i.e. it is unable to act righteously) and the masculine tends to move, it is the representative line of the inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still) and is at the position for resting, signifying that as long as it can restrain itself and remain still whenever it is unstable in the norm of Wu Wang, it will be free from calamity or fault.

Commentary on the image: (Line 4 is) capable of persisting (in the norm of Wu Wang) and (there will be) no calamity (or fault), (which is due to its) firmly maintaining what is innately possessed.

It inhabits trigram Qian, signifying it innately possesses the norm of Wu Wang. It has the quality of no pretence, and conditions favour it remaining still. Therefore what it needs to do is to maintain the norm firmly.

Enlightenment through nine four: to act according to the intuitive ability of knowing what is right and wrong.  Pretentious thoughts and deeds can arise in anyone; therefore people must stop acting when that happens. As long as one can persist in the norm of Wu Wang, one will be free from calamity or fault. Innocence is inborn but it will change later due to undeserved desires. What one should do is to solidify what one innately possesses. While this line is activated, changing to feminine and acting righteously, the hexagram appears in the form of Yi4 (42), to enrich, where a gentleman imitate goodness when he sees it, and rid himself of wrongdoing.


The 5th line

Text: (The subject is affected by) the illness of Wu Wang (no pretence); do not take medicine, (and) there will be happiness.

Text explanation:

 Pretence, the illness of Wu Wang, is not a physical disease; therefore there is no need to take medicine. It doesn't originate from line 5 itself but rather from its neighbours. As long as line 5 can perform as usual and not be affected by others, the illness won't affect it. Happiness means that it is immune from illness. Or, a person feels no qualms upon self-examination and is content with himself; this signifies happiness.

Line 5, the host line of Wu Wang, is a masculine axle centre staying at its right position and correlating with line 2. From the viewpoint of the line’s virtue and talent, it possesses the ideal qualities that Wu Wang exemplifies, i.e. righteousness and moderation. It also engages strongly and firmly with movement. However it lives in an unhealthy neighbourhood, i.e. both lines 4 and 6 are not at their right positions and do not act righteously; they are the illness of Wu Wang. Line 5 need not correct itself but rather maintain its characteristics and act according to the norm of Wu Wang, i.e. its representing trigram Qian; then it won't be affected by its neighbours. 

Commentary on the image: The medicine of Wu Wang (no pretence), (which) doesn’t permit a trial.

The inner upper trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) denotes wood, which is taken here for an herb; the inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) denotes a stone, which is seen as a mineral. Both are medicinal materials. Additionally trigram Xun is an entrance, while trigram Gen signifies to stop; lines 3 and 4 are their representative lines. This indicates not taking medicine as the entrance is stopped.



Should line 5 take medicine and make a change, the hexagram would become Shi He (21), biting through, where the world is undergoing a ferocious battle for power and benefit, and the weak are preyed upon by the strong.

Enlightenment through nine five: to act according to what is right and not be affected. Even though the illness of Wu Wang is contagious, there is no need to take medicine. People won't be infected as long as they act according to the norm of Wu Wang. The hexagram would become Shi He (21) if this line changed to feminine and did not act righteously.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject ought to maintain) Wu Wang (no misbehaviour); actions (random, by chance) has (a cause to) man-made calamity; nothing is favourable.

Text explanation:

Line 6 doesn’t stay at its right position, i.e. act righteously when it reaches the end of the hexagram, signifying that it can’t maintain the norm of Wu Wang to the end. Wu Wang makes no exceptions. It starts from line 1 and must finish at line 6. The calamity will befall after its misbehaviour. Since the masculine tends to move, it must be discreet in its words and deeds.

Commentary on the image: The (inconsistent) act of Wu Wang (no misbehaviour), (which is seen as) a calamity due to being destitute (of the norm of Wu Wang).

Enlightenment through nine six: to last until the end. The act of Wu Wang must persist to the end. To act by chance will bring nothing favourable, only man-made calamity. If this line changes to feminine, the hexagram will become Sui (17), where people must always follow what is righteous although they are advised to act according to the occasion. 





Hexagram Fu (24), to return, is constituted by the lower trigram Zhen and the upper trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth), while hexagram Wu Wang is composed of the lower trigram Zhen and the upper trigram Qian. Both hexagrams reveal that momentum is initiated by their internal trigram Zhen, to move. However the external trigram of Fu is trigram Kun, signifying that one should follow the trend of the times with tenderness and accommodate everything with virtue. The external trigram of hexagram Wu Wang is Qian, i.e. one should exert oneself strongly and persistently.