no power so great as modesty

release and flow


The Creative acts

to empty what is full and

to offer abundance to

what is modest.


This hexagram suggests that a deepening of one’s modesty now is a sure means of improving the situation. There is no power so great as modesty for compelling the assistance of the Sage – nor one so hindering as immodesty. Those in high places who retain their modesty are loved by all and continually prosper; those below who cultivate modesty inevitably rise on the strength of their merits, without making enemies along the way.

But what does modesty mean? Certainly it entails a refusal to boast or act imperiously with others, even in small ways. But beyond this steadfast humility it also means that our effort to discern what is right and then do it is constant; we do not work against ourselves, and we do not indulge in doubts about the wisdom of correct conduct. This unwavering commitment to what is correct might be called “the modesty before the Sage”.

So there is in modesty a component of nonaction – that is, not indulging in arrogant, ego-centered behavior – as well as a component of active effort: looking for opportunities to correct ourselves, to assist justice where there is injustice, to feed where there is hunger, to give solace where there is pain.

Finally and most plainly, modesty means holding to innocence, sincerity, and openness in every situation. To do this is to empty ourself and make room for the blessings of the Creative to take root.

from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 15, Ch’ien / Modesty


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