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Kim Gould from Love Your Design, asked me this question on Facebook. “I’ve always wondered why hexagram 63 is After Completion and 64 is Before Completion and I expect you know the answer. Any ideas?

I’m flattered that Kim thinks enough of me to ask. All I can do is respond with how I see this. Other I Ching devotees may have other perspectives.

Part of the answer to Kim’s question has to do with the structure of the lines and the order they are placed in which according to I Ching scholars, changed over time. Mathematicians are interested in the structure of I Ching as a binary system. I am not qualified to enter a discussion about the mathematical structure of I Ching. I will comment on what I find interesting in the structure of Hexagrams 63 and 64 and how they interrelate to each other.

Hexagram 63, Water over Fire  After Completion.

Hexagram 64, Fire over Water Before Completion.

Hexagram 63, Water over Fire, changes into Hexagram 64, Fire over Water, if all the lines change. Hexagram 63, also become Hexagram 64 if you turn the set upside down. This also happens with Hexagram 11, Peace, turning into 12, Standstill, in the same way, and again in Hexagrams 17 and 18.

However, even the nuclear hexagrams in 63 and 64 create the other. We can’t have one of these two hexagrams without the other contained within it in several ways. Perhaps these two hexagrams exemplify the basis for yin yang activity at its purest level. I’m sure mathematicians could have a lot to say about this structure from that perspective.  I invite them to comment here for us on that subject.

One of the meanings for Hexagram 64, After completion, is that all the lines; yang, yin, yang, yin, yang and then yin again at top are in the order the I Ching deems correct for perfect completion. Yang is the beginning, “creative” followed by yin, “receptive.” In the hexagram of After Completion this order occurs in a perfect way. Wilhelm writes regarding Hexagram 63, “This hexagram is the only one in which all the lines stand in their proper places.”

Of course After Completion is full of warnings just because everything is in such perfect order. According to I Ching philosophy, everything is always in change and that if things are perfect we have to expect they will not stay that way. I always like getting Hexagram 64, because then I know a whole new order or event is about to happen. The new event is contained within me already, when the order of things rearranges, all will fall into place. But not yet.

Wilhelm says in his note at the end of Hexagram 64:The hexagram After Completion represents a gradual transition from a time of ascent past a peak of culture to a time of standstill. The hexagram Before Completion represents a transition from chaos to order. This hexagram comes at the end of the Book of Changes. It points to the fact that every end contains a new beginning. Thus it gives hope to men. The Book for Changes is a book of the future.”

Does this answer Kim’s question? I don’t know. I answered it for myself so thank her for asking – made me think.

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20 Comments on A question about I Ching Hexagrams 63 and 64

  1. AldoNo Gravatar says:

    “perfect” seems to me to be all about a state in which there are no external influences since all that is becomes one whole. Good-bad, big-small, tall-short, bright-dark, hot-cold, happy-sad, courage-cowardice <– these are all extreme descriptions of possible manifestations of reality. a Tree (yang) and its shadow (ying) are still part of a bigger whole. Energy is yang and everything is can be considered ying yet we are both a manifestation of a bigger fragmented whole. Extremes are never perfect although you can strive towards perfection depending from where you are coming from.

  2. […] A question about hexagrams 63 and 64 and Discussion about the circular chart […]

  3. […] A question about hexagrams 63 and 64 and Discussion about the circular chart […]

  4. SunnyNo Gravatar says:

    I just received 63 changing to 64 after I got dumped and am totally devastated. Well, not totally, but almost totally. It freaked me out. It still is. I don’t know what to think right now.

    • AdeleNo Gravatar says:

      Your question and comment here is a big synchronicity in itself. i am about to post something on Earth Day, the 22nd, that includes an experience I had with getting all six lines changing but mine was starting with Hexagram 64, Before Completion and changed all into Hexagram 63, After Completion. It is an awesome response. Come back on the 22nd and I will post more about this. I’m not forgetting you.

      Thanks so much for sharing.


  5. Geoffrey GambleNo Gravatar says:

    This a question rather than a comment. I have read the quote “Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish to the crowd” but I can’t find it anywhere in my Wilhelm-Baynes translation of the I Ching. Can you help me find it? thanks. Geoff

    • AdeleNo Gravatar says:

      Geoff, I”m sorry that I don’t know where that quote comes from. I have read of a similar statement but in different words but don’t remember were I saw this. My memory is something to the effect that creativity begins in chaos.

  6. AdeleNo Gravatar says:

    Jaliya – Well when I get Hex 64 I always think of it as something about to happen. I like this way better than Standstill. Actually my reading today was 42 moving to 64. It’s the new moon in Aries today so maybe that is making us restless – especially me because both sun and moon are hitting my ascendant. I have a million things to do but also feel unfocused so thanks for the company. 🙂

    .-= Adele´s last blog ..I Ching Meditations News Notes =-.

  7. JaliyaNo Gravatar says:

    Adele, I feel like I’m *living* Hexagram 64 right now … lots of activity inside me, but no direction … perhaps it’s Spring Fever?! I can’t seem to get it together to post on any of my blogs … Ah, well … I can be inspired by blogs like yours 🙂
    .-= Jaliya´s last blog ..Why I love the I Ching =-.

  8. AdeleNo Gravatar says:


    I appreciate your comments. Yesterday I got Hexagram 63 with all changing lines to 64. So weird and unusual a response there. I’m still pondering this for the instance of the event. But as you know, the I Ching is never wrong, even when we think it is. Time always reveals.

    .-= Adele´s last blog ..Circular Chart of I Ching Hexagrams =-.

  9. JaliyaNo Gravatar says:

    Sometimes I think of 63 as a “tipping point” … or the instant before the tip begins …

    I read this post after viewing your circular chart, Adele, and it all makes perfect sense. Understanding 64 in part as “primordial chaos” — and the “after tipping”, when events and closures begin their transformations into new beginnings — gives a beautiful image as well. When I read the word “chaos” I also think of Hex. 3 — in this context as “chaos in form” — the chaos and turbulence inherent in a system that is brand new and in formation … the huge energy expended in creating from Yin and Yang a new being or thing …
    .-= Jaliya´s last blog ..Why I love the I Ching =-.

  10. […] this month at the request of Kim Gould, I posted a discussion about Hexagrams 63, After Completion and the issue of why did it come before Hexagram 64, Before Completion. I received a comment from […]

  11. AdeleNo Gravatar says:


    Thanks for your insight into why people prefer other translations to Wilhelm. What you say about people not reading as much never occurred to me but surely that aspect is true. I was attributing more loftey reasons. Interestingly, the more I read other translations, the more I appreciate Wilhelm’s.

    On the subject of making a circular map for the Hexagrams, you have created a challenge me that got me caught in another sink hole. It’s not a quick job and now that I started it I want to include it in the PDF I mentioned so stay tuned.

    Your input is much appreciated.

    .-= Adele´s last blog ..A question about I Ching Hexagrams 63 and 64 =-.

  12. Luis AndradeNo Gravatar says:

    I was wondering why I detected a disinterested view of Wilhelm’s translation. I didn’t understand why. I have looked at many – a stack of I Ching books here – but Wilhelm is poetic and I appreciate that.

    No disinterest from me, I assure you, but I’ll tell you why I think your observation is spot on: People are reading less and paying less attention to what they read. We don’t live in the 60’s or 70’s anymore, when that young generation seriously hit the books (and other sources) in search of spirituality and found the I Ching and Wilhelm in the process. Wilhelm’s translation and material is deep and thoughtful and, well, difficult for many. It was never intended to be a “New Age” book. That wasn’t a problem back then but it is a huge problem today, in a world where trivial answers are found with the click of a button. Nowadays people want digested (quite literally) materials and instant gratification. In short, they want either easier and watered down versions of what took you and me years of study and practice and/or, in the case of divination, “fortune tellers”.



  13. AdeleNo Gravatar says:


    I was wondering why I detected a disinterested view of Wilhelm’s translation. I didn’t understand why. I have looked at many – a stack of I Ching books here – but Wilhelm is poetic and I appreciate that. The I Ching is a subjective experience and since I can’t read Chinese I depend on other people’s translations. I still like Wilhelm the best if I were to have to pick one. I was compelled to learn how to read Chinese years ago from a set of Yale books so I could read the Ching for myself. Ha! More hubris on my part. Life interrupted that, although I got so I could read a bit but as in any language, one has to use it and the little I did learn is lost. Can you read Chinese?

    Now you have challenged me to make that circle of hexagrams. First, I’m in the middle of creating a PDF freebe that I will post soon.

    .-= Adele´s last blog ..A question about I Ching Hexagrams 63 and 64 =-.

  14. Luis AndradeNo Gravatar says:

    Laughing to myself here(and at myself and my short attention span) and for not doing justice to your post and reading it complete before commenting. I get ahead of myself a lot. Until you’ve mentioned it, I didn’t notice I was elaborating on your Wilhelm’s quote and his mention of chaos and order. My mistake, sorry. But yes, the old translator was right, IMO.

    I agree with Wilhelm more than I disagree. Wilhelm has a bad reputation among so called “seculars” in the study of the Yijing due to his mix of Christian and Confucian leanings, which can be appreciated in his comments to the translation, but I don’t find much of a conflict in it.

    I would love to see some of your circular graphics. Please do.


  15. AdeleNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Luis,

    I appreciate your comments and your elaboration on my quote of Wilhelm’s about the end of Hexagram 64, the theoretical end of the Hexagrams, by reminding us that this is not a liner concept, but circular. This explains why I always enjoy the maps of the Hexagrams that I have seen created in a circle. Maybe I should create one to post.


  16. Luis AndradeNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Adele,

    The name of both hexagrams contain the character 濟, which can be translated also as ‘cross’, ‘crossing over’, ‘to ferry across’. 63, where all the lines are in their proper place according to their nature is the metaphorical image of having reached a milestone, a goal. However, things are never stationary and the moment the peak is reached, the down slope starts. Thus 64, as in ‘before crossing’, follows 63. A goal can never be reached without the process or the path that leads to it and why we have 63 as the hex before the last one.

    It can be argued “why then 64 isn’t the first hex in the sequence?” Because 64, in a sense, represents primordial chaos. But it isn’t a linear concept. It is circular. When the wheel continues turning, it starts with the seeds of a new order in the form of Heaven and Earth hexagrams.

    Cosmologically, one way to visualize 63 is as a “singularity”. 64 can be visualized as the moment just after the Big Bang, where there is expansion and “apparent” disorder.

    Best wishes,


  17. AdeleNo Gravatar says:


    I think the explanation is understandable, to me anyway, from the psychological point of view. It makes sense that the last Hexagram starts you all over again. I am sure the mathematicians also have a reason for the structure. Anyway, I like it this way.
    .-= Adele´s last blog ..A question about I Ching Hexagrams 63 and 64 =-.

  18. KimNo Gravatar says:

    I suppose the mathematical structure is a different thing from the numerology. Like you Adele I’d never gone deeply into the idea of why 63 is AFTER and 64 is BEFORE completion when numerologically I would expect it to be the other way around. And as you say, they are actually opposites. In Human Design they are astrologically opposite, with 63 in Pisces and 63 in Virgo.

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