Hexagram 61 – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

girl in field

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Everyone has heard this saying, but I never did understand what it truly meant. After all, if one has good intentions, why would that good intention cause one to go to hell? Shouldn’t that be the fate of one with bad intentions? Shouldn’t good intentions at least get an honorable mention, or a brownie point, even if it did not bring about the desired effect or end result? After all, if we cannot trust our good intentions, we would always freeze up, for fear of being wrong or inadvertently paving the road to hell, any time there is a need for action. Yet, the option to act without good intention is not a viable option for me.

So— what the fritz do I do?

My ignorance of the answer to this perplexing puzzle, once again, propelled me back to the I Ching for guidance.
My question: How can I act upon my good intentions and not have to worry about paving the road to hell?

I Ching gave a solid and immediate answer. Inner Truth.

Inner Truth is what the man of high integrity cultivates within himself and what he utilizes as his main source of power to influence the world. His power is such that he can attempt to cross the great water in relative safety.

It sounds so great, and seems so divine in nature. I thought, surely it would be fairly simple to discern Inner Truth as opposed to say… Inner Falsehood. Sad to say, my inner-truth compass spins wildly sometimes. The lines are not as clearly delineated as I would hope they’d be. Sometimes, it is internal conflict which causes the fuzziness of the lines, and at other times, external factors impose themselves upon my judgment, coloring the two sides, similar shades of grey.

I had to dig deeper into the Oracle to figure out the answer to this.

#61 – Chung Fu – Inner Truth – Wilhelm trans.

The Judgement:

Inner Truth. Pigs and fishes.
Good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Perseverance furthers.

Pigs and fishes are the least intelligent of all animals and therefore the most difficult to influence. The force of Inner Truth must grow great indeed before its influence can extend to such creatures.

In dealing with persons as intractable and as difficult to influence as a pig or a fish, the whole secret of success depends on finding the right way of approach. One must first rid oneself of all prejudice and, so to speak, let the psyche of the other person act on one without restraint. Then one will establish contact with him, understand and again power over him.

When a door has thus been opened, the force of one’s personality will influence him. If in this way one finds no obstacles insurmountable, one can undertake even the most dangerous things, such as crossing the great water, and succeed. — Wilhelm

In other words, I can act upon my good intentions (succeed in crossing the great water without leaving that intractable person behind) without having to worry about paving the road to hell.

The Image:

Wind over lake: the image of Inner Truth.

Wind stirs water by penetrating it. Thus the superior man, when obliged to judge the mistakes of men, tries to penetrate their minds with understanding, in order to gain a sympathetic appreciation of the circumstance. — Wilhelm.

This is similar to, but different from Compassion. With Compassion, one needs only to feel what the other feels.  Inner Truth requires understanding the other’s point of view as well, and this requires both a firm and strong movement forward, into another person’s mind (yang/the easy), while firmly anchored to one’s own soul (yin/the simple).

Ta Chuan / The Great Treatise – Chapter 8:

6. Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament, but afterward they laugh.

The Master said:
Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.


The force of Inner Truth depends chiefly on inner stability and preparedness. From this state of mind springs the correct attitude toward the outer world.

Whenever a feeling is voiced with truth and frankness, whenever a deed is the clear expression of sentiment, a mysterious and far-reaching influence is exerted. At first it acts on those who are inwardly receptive. But the circle grows larger and larger. The root of all influence lies in one’s own inner being: given true and vigorous expression in word and deed, its effect is great. — Wilhelm.

So, I Ching says that to develop Inner Truth, we have to work on our inner stability and preparedness. In other words, we have to cultivate Integrity, which will keep us from being paved along the road to hell.

But that’s just the icing on the cake. The real treasure is what lies beyond this. Confucius recognized this power by stating: Through words and deeds, the superior man moves heaven and earth.

That is powerful!

I went from:  “Dear I Ching, how can I avoid being paved over on the path to hell?” to:  “If I can cultivate Integrity, which leads to Inner Truth, not only do I NOT have to worry about being roadkill, I can atually move the road so that it goes to heaven!”

33 thoughts on “Hexagram 61 – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

  1. this has been very helpful, thanks… i was worrying and questioning my good intentions, and its effect on those around me..

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  2. t, once you understand the other person’s motivation (inner truth), you can use that knowledge, combined with your integrity to do the right thing, to change minds, change directions, change movements, change the world.

    “The force of Inner Truth depends chiefly on inner stability and preparedness. From this state of mind springs the correct attitude toward the outer world.” ~ Wilhelm.

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  3. wow , this article amazes me, besides the cultivated integrity I would say every act of random kindness can change the road to heaven.

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  4. Sorry to disappoint you but the hexagram 61 has been mistakenly named “Inner Truth”, its right name should be “immobilized”, and it describes the situation of criminals, which are the most difficult humans to influence and how to make them improve.

    The image is still good:

    “Thus the superior man discusses criminal cases
    In order to delay executions”.

    The answer to your question is obvious : “when you are immobilized, like someone in jail, you cannot make further mistakes and you can start working on your intentions”, but it raises another question: “How one can immobilize themselves voluntarily?”

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  5. Hi DL, live and learn, I always say. Thanks for pointing this out to me. Could you also give me some sources for this information so that I may dig out the truth of the matter? Thanks so much.

    Tao Babe

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  6. Hi the best source is the classic text, you can just discard the title. If someone gives you a fish the best way to keep it is to put it in a closed space.

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  7. DL, what is the title to this classic text, and where can I get a copy? Also, I must disagree with you regarding the fish comment. If you put the fish in a closed space, all you get is fermented fish sauce. I prefer to share it with all those in my sphere of contact so that we all benefit. I am not interested in hoarding my knowledge because the more we share, the more that knowledge grows. Peace and light to you.

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  8. The classic text? The original Chinese text without any modern comment.

    “INNER TRUTH. The yielding are within, yet the strong hold the middle.”

    As closed space I meant a space where it won’t go away. i’m not sure what you mean about fish sauce, is this sarcasm?

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  9. Sarcasm? No, just having a little light-hearted banter. I cannot read original text, have to have translation. In any case it is all up to our individual interpretation. Your interpretation is just as good ad mine or anybody else. As long as it makes sense, it is all good. 🙂

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  10. The text I quoted can be found in Wilhelm’s book, but the long version only, in the second part about the comments.

    You are right about the interpretation, it’s when our readings make sense that we can decide if we got it or not.

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  11. DL, it is great that you use Wilhelm’s translation. I use the same book myself, so we should be getting the same information. If you browse through my Bibliography page, you will see all the I Ching books I confer upon for further information about each individual I Ching casting. I read them all, and then I boil them down into a single interpretation. 🙂

    See you on the other side of reality.

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  12. Do we have the same book? No we don’t. I’m using Wilhelm/¨Perrot, the French edition. And it has to be the long version or you won’t find the quote:

    It is in the second part after the text about the wings. I know it exists in English because I found the quote with google.

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  13. DL, thanks so much for your copy of the translated I Ching. I am looking at it right now. As for the Wilhelm translation, I have three copies of the Wilhelm I Ching. I will dig through and find the one you are referring to. Much gratitude for your pointing in the right direction on this one. I am still walking the path, still actively learning.

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  14. When I am unclear, I usually ask a Taoist Master who can read the Chinese Hanji characters for a clearer translation. It usually clears up most confusions. :). It’s a good thing that most Tao Masters aren’t secretive and trying to hide their knowledge to themselves (at least not at this level).

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  15. !?! I do trust the I Ching, why else would I consult? But there is no getting around the language barrier, and the translations have to be accurate in order to most clearly comprehend the nuances. No need to guess. We only need to ask someone who knows how to read ancient Chinese.

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  16. Because it’s not as easy as just asking what the actual words mean. For example: The characters of hexagram 61 is 中 and 孚.

    中 means ‘in’, and 孚 means ‘trust’. In Trust. If you look up this grouping of words, as it is shown in today’s dictionary, in English, it means “arrangement(s) by which something (eg money) is given to a person to use in a particular way, or to keep until a particular time…”

    But that is NOT what those two words meant, as placed together, in ancient Chinese times. Why not, you ask? Because the context of the words are missing. Back then, there were no such things as trusts and wills, as created by modern-day lawyers. It HAS TO mean something else, something that we would have to either take a time-travel back to those times and learn ancient Chinese to understand (because it’s different from modern Chinese, just as Old English is different from American English…and given that Chinese is a much older language, the difference is much larger), OR we find someone who has knowledge of ancient Chinese, a scholar of ancient texts (just like we would consult an English professor on the proper understanding of Old English words) and ask that person what the context is that surrounds the words, as written by the sages thousands of years ago.

    We are hobbled by the distance in time and space, and the difference in philosophy and language, and the context of life experiences…all we can do is our best, but I find that in the quest for knowledge, it opens up and lets us in on all the secrets. We just have to keep searching, keep trying, keep learning, and keep growing. All things eventually make sense when it is the right time for it to come to us. Keep learning, my friend.

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  17. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I don’t think it is a good idea to study the translations, I think it is better to study the meaning of the hexagrams with the I Ching because the I Ching is a spiritual Master, though you can’t follow a Taoist Master at the same time.

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  18. DL… I study the meaning of the hexagrams, just like you do. The I Ching is a spiritual master who speaks in Chinese, and so in order to understand it, I have to translate its words. The Taoist Master is not my spiritual master, he is simply my living dictionary.

    But as The Master said:
    Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
    Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
    Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
    There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
    But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
    They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
    And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
    Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.

    We all have our paths to follow. You can go as fast or as slow as you want. There are no wrong paths. They are all there to teach us something we need to know. Every path leads to the same place anyway.

    See you on the other side of reality.

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  19. The translations help for most hexagrams and lines but not all.

    You don’t have to learn Chinese, because there is a sure way to learn with the I Ching, even without a translation: it is to ask what a situation means. You can ask about pictures, songs, movies, books, dreams, real life events, anything you want. The text is here to help and it often does but it has not to be your only source of learning and inspiration.

    This my favorite method for learning. But nowadays I’m doing something else: I ask specifically what does an hexagram or a line means, or more precisely I ask the I Ching what comment I should write.

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  20. Hi Miss Tao Babe

    really liked your articles about the mao and your research on extinct cultures and stones.
    check out http://www.eichner-dresden.de/phaethon/ for ignored research on the extinction of atlantis. always like your blog, blog more about magic, feng shui and i ching! didnt find any mail adress to be more specific – feel free to drop a line by email.
    have a good day.

    A.

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  21. Hi Arne, thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for the comment. I am reading the link you sent now. It is very informative. Thanks so much!!!

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  22. Hey, I just realized that hexagram 61 describes Love, specially True Love. Immobilized is still correct because Love is a kind of jail, you are not going anywhere when you are in love. Also, you want to fix your flaws to avoid hurting your lover and you want to improve to make your lover happy.

    So Love was the oracle’s answer. I hope that clears the misunderstanding between us.

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  23. I know it has been a while since this blog discussion on Inner Truth/immobilization.
    I received the Hexagram today in response to a question where I asked the Oracle to comment on how a particularly challenging meeting had unfolded and what had been achieved.
    I interpreted the response to mean that mutual trust had been established through the capacity to speak inner truth and draw forth inner truth in the other who was being stubbornly piggish and slippery fish like, through gentle penetration to the heart of what was literally immobilizing them- in retrospect it was the fear and dread that their inner truth was not acceptable or could not be received. The outcome-we can now undertake dangerous works like ‘crossing the great water’.
    I am always puzzled by what that means. Any thoughts?
    (I had been prepared for the meeting with advice from the Oracle not to allow conflict such that there could be a parting of the ways. Abiding in this throughout also immobilized any harsh judgement or impatience or giving up on my part.)

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  24. Hi taobabe – I don’t know if you are still looking at these comments since they are from over 2 years ago. Not sure of you know but the I Ching traditionally has a very Confucian overlay which stresses his beliefs and values – not that these are bad in themselves – but the original layers are Daoist and human morality, which is a human construct and there for perfectly logical reasons, is not the main message. If you read, for example, the DaoDeChing of Laozi, you will see that human values are put into a more cosmic perspective. Also, and it may seem a banal point, but if you visit mainland china you do sense a connection and non-dogmatic pragmatism in ordinary chinese people that underpins much of the situations found in the I Ching. Hope this gets to you and you find it useful. By the way – the view that fish and pigs have very low intelligence is a VERY human-centric dogma which I think is finally being seen for what it is – pure prejudice not far removed from the stereotyping of ‘racial profiles’ of so called enlightened european thought.

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  25. Hi David,
    Even though you posted this comment last November, for some reason it arrived in my inbox this morning.
    I would like to clarify what Pigs and Fishes mean for me since I used the terms piggish and fishlish where the estimation of ‘intelligence’ according to homocentric perception and prejudice is not in question at all.
    I have respect for the stubbornness of a Pig who wants to be true to it’s own nature and not be herded by humans into pens or factory farms, whose integrity is to roam free and muck about in forests.Stubbornness as survival mechanism, as self protection is natural Intelligence.Fish too are slippery by nature for a reason.
    It is we who have lost our nature such that intelligence is reduced to disembodied mind making ‘use’ of beautiful creatures and seeing them as objects whose ‘low’ intelligence justifies our heartless and senseless abuse of their existence.
    It is our intelligence’ that is limited
    In seeing these stubborn and slippery traits in humans, as survival mechanisms,for self protection, with empathy and respect, it becomes possible to create safe space and free up the expression of inner truth.
    For me the text of the I Ching is somehow not an obstacle to the ageless wisdom behind the words. I just have to get out of the way so to speak.

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  26. Pingback: Do Tell What Ever Is In a Name – Seraphin Perihelion

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