27: Nourishment

Nourishment refers to more than just a healthy diet of food; this hexagram represents caregiving as well. Eating properly implies care for oneself; providing healthy meals in the home implies caring for the family. The writer of a great book or the composer of an inspiring piece of music also provide nourishment—to humanity in general—by caring deeply and offering the fruits of their works to the world.

You can know people by observing what they nourish in their own lives. Do they feed and take care of their bodies? Do they cultivate their spirits, their intellects, their moral values? Do they nourish and care for those around them? If so, to whom do they devote their energies? The most successful people are temperate in eating and drinking, thinking and dreaming. They strengthen the world by nurturing their higher self and then sharing it with others.

Pay heed to your thoughts and impulses, ignoring those that undermine a healthy and persevering attitude. A wise person is temperate in the consumption of food and drink, because being otherwise only leads to discomfort and disease. The fact that temporary pleasure may precede discomfort does not influence a person of mature character. In the same way, a wise person is discriminating in word and action, lest a desire for temporary advantage leads to pain for oneself or others. Enrich your character, and you will nourish everyone around you in the best possible way.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Envy is the dark underside of the rock of healthy ambition. A deeply felt covetousness, when fed by self-pity, always brings misfortune. To counter a tendency toward envy, practice self-reliance and take control of yourself.

Line 2

Those who earn their daily bread are much happier than those who subsist on the generosity of others. Continuing to be over-reliant on charity brings misfortune. They who chop their own firewood are twice warmed.

Line 3

When real nourishment is rejected in favor of the “junk food” of body or mind, natural strength wanes quickly and significant achievement becomes very difficult.

Line 4

When seeking help for a worthy cause, be as zealous as a hungry tiger. If your enterprise serves the common good, others will honor your determination. Only by generating a strong head of steam can a train’s engine scale the mountain pass. Good fortune.

Line 5

Learning to listen brings success. Personal advice, especially from wise and perceptive persons, should be sought out when you face challenging tasks. And when someone’s advice helps you through a critical situation, never delude yourself into thinking that you succeeded all on your own. Acknowledge some dependence on others or face misfortune when undertaking your next assignment.

Line 6 (top line)

A burden is borne by those in high positions, for the influence of such people is great, and they are responsible for the nourishment of those who follow them. Awareness of this should not inhibit action; the general must feed his troops daily, regardless of circumstances. A continuing awareness of the responsibility that comes with power is often the best means of preventing its dissipation. Responsible attitudes lead to good fortune, steadfast leadership, and smart decisions.