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I Ching - Hexagram 4 - Meng (Youthful Folly)

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Exploring the I Ching Hexagram 4: Meng (Youthful Folly)

The I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese divination text and philosophical treatise that dates back over 3,000 years, during the Zhou Dynasty or possibly eariler during the Shang Dynasty.

It consists of a set of 64 hexagrams, each of which represents a different state of being, situation, or energy.

In this blog, we will explore Hexagram 4, also known as Meng or Youthful Folly, and its meanings, interpretations, and practical applications.

The Hexagram Symbolism and Structure

Hexagram 4 is composed of two trigrams, each representing different elemental forces and energies. The upper trigram is Mountain, which symbolizes stillness, stability, and resistance. The lower trigram is Water, which represents fluidity, adaptability, and receptivity.

Together, these two trigrams create the image of a young person or a novice who is standing at the foot of a mountain, unsure of how to climb it or what lies beyond. This image symbolizes the theme of Hexagram 4, which is the folly or naivete of youth and inexperience.

The Meaning and Interpretation of Hexagram 4

In the I Ching, Hexagram 4 is often seen as a warning against impulsive actions, recklessness, and lack of foresight. It suggests that just as a young person may underestimate the challenges and dangers of climbing a mountain, we may underestimate the complexity and consequences of our decisions and actions.

Hexagram 4 also reminds us that youthful energy and enthusiasm can be both a blessing and a curse. While it can give us the courage to try new things and explore uncharted territories, it can also make us overconfident, arrogant, and oblivious to our limitations and weaknesses.

Therefore, the key message of Hexagram 4 is to cultivate wisdom, patience, and humility, and to seek guidance from more experienced and knowledgeable people. It advises us to think before we act, to consider the long-term consequences of our choices, and to learn from our mistakes and failures.

The Practical Applications of Hexagram 4

Hexagram 4 can be applied to a wide range of personal, social, and professional situations, such as:

  • Making important decisions: Hexagram 4 advises us to weigh the pros and cons of our choices, to consult with experts and mentors, and to consider the potential risks and rewards of each option.

  • Starting a new venture: Whether it's a business, a project, or a relationship, Hexagram 4 suggests that we approach it with caution, humility, and a willingness to learn from our mistakes. It advises us to seek feedback and support from others, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to persevere through challenges and setbacks.

  • Dealing with conflicts and challenges: Hexagram 4 reminds us that sometimes the best course of action is to retreat, to wait, and to gather our strength and resources before we engage in battle. It advises us to choose our battles wisely, to avoid unnecessary risks and conflicts, and to seek peaceful and constructive solutions whenever possible.


Hexagram 4, Meng or Youthful Folly, is a powerful reminder of the dangers and opportunities of youth and inexperience. It warns us against impulsive actions, reckless decisions, and overconfidence, and encourages us to cultivate wisdom, humility, and patience.

By applying the lessons of Hexagram 4 to our lives, we can learn to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of our journey with greater awareness, resilience, and grace.

Additional information:

The binary code for Hexagram 4, also known as Meng (Youthful Folly), is 100010. It consists of a solid line at the bottom, which represents the number 1, and two broken lines above it, which represent the number 0. When converted to binary code, the solid line is assigned a value of 1, and the broken lines are assigned a value of 0, resulting in the binary code 100010.

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