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#12 否 Fou (Adversity)

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Fou means adversity, obstruction, misfortune and great difficulty.

What is this about?

Fou suggests impending hardship. Adversity and prominence are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. This hexagram describes the fall of the Shang dynasty.


12.0 否之匪; 不利君子. 貞—大往小來

Mean people obstruct the way. It is disadvantageous for the righteous man to insist on honesty and integrity. The great is leaving; the small is coming. During the late Shang dynasty, people lived in fear, darkness and despair. Troubled by corruption and cruelty, they allied with King Wen, who promised to free them from oppression. Powerless and greedy people, who serve only to insult, humiliate and obstruct, are blocking your development. Release yourself from their grip.

12.1 初六拔茅茹以其彙。貞吉,亨

Yin on Line 1: Remove the weeds that damage the roots. It is essential to remain virtuous and persistent. In the early days of King Shang's rule, he was a righteous and trustworthy king. He removed the devious, those who would threaten the integrity of the throne. Distance yourself from dishonest and vicious people. There will be positive results.

12.2 六二包承。小人吉;大人否。亨

Yin on Line 2: Flattery was gladly received. It was fortunate for the self-servicing and mean and discouraged for the honourable person. Later in his rule, Shang King began to embrace flatters. He separated himself from his loyal officers. Flattery is the first sign of darkness in power. Boosting a person's ego leads to corruption spirit. Be honest with yourself and others.

12.3 六三包羞

Yin on Line 3: Hiding that which is shameful. The self-serving person hid his disgraceful deeds carefully. He did not want to fall out of grace with the Shang King. Be wary of the person whose words don't match their actions. You are being fooled. Be on guard.

12.4 九四有命。无咎。疇離—祉

Yang on Line 4: Act under Heaven, and there will be no mistake. Those who share a noble goal will be fortunate. King Wen was destined to free the people from King Shang's tyranny. Assume a significant commitment. Begin revolutionary change. Make the world a better place. You and your followers will revel in the success.

12.5 休否大人吉其亡其亡 繫于苞桑

Yang on Line 5: The obstruction was about to be removed. This proves fortunate for the virtuous person. Solidarity will stay. This line refers to the rise of King Wen. Other tribes joined the uprising. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Move forward as a cohesive unit, and the bright days will come.

12.6 上九傾否。先否後喜

Yang on Line 6: The obstruction was finally removed. Happiness followed distress. King Wen's son, King Wu, killed King Shang. The agony came to an end. The removal of obstacles leads to a clear path. Success awaits you.

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