by Stefan Stenudd

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I Ching Hexagram 31.
Hsien / Influence (Wooing)


Hexagram 31

Upper trigram: Tui The Joyous, Lake

Lower trigram: Kên Keeping Still, Mountain


The Judgement

Influence. Success.
Perseverance furthers.
To take a maiden to wife brings good fortune.





The Image

A lake on the mountain:
The image of Influence.
Thus the superior man encourages people to approach him
By his readiness to receive them.


The Lines

These texts apply only for the lines that were marked, when the hexagram was cast. Note that the lines are counted from the bottom up.


The bottom line marked means:

The influence shows itself in the big toe.


The 2nd line marked means:

The influence shows itself in the calves of the legs.
Misfortune.
Tarrying brings good fortune.


The 3rd line marked means:

The influence shows itself in the thighs.
Holds to that which follows it.
To continue is humiliating.


The 4th line marked means:

Perseverance brings good fortune.
Remorse disappears.
If a man is agitated in mind,
And his thoughts go hither and thither,
Only those friends
On whom he fixes his conscious thoughts
Will follow.


The 5th line marked means:

The influence shows itself in the back of the neck.
No remorse.


The top line marked means:

The influence shows itself in the jaws, cheeks and tongue.


The interpretations above and comments below are from Richard Wilhelm's version of the I CHING.


Comments on the Hexagram

The name of the hexagram means "universal," "general," and in a figurative sense "to influence," "to stimulate." The upper trigram is Tui, the Joyous; the lower is Kn, Keeping still. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this stimulation cheerfully and joyously. Kn, the lower trigram, is the youngest son; the upper, Tui, is the youngest daughter. Thus the universal mutual attraction between the sexes is represented. In courtship, the masculine principle must seize the initiative and place itself below the feminine principle.

       Just as the first part of book 1 begins with the hexagrams of heaven and earth, the foundations of all that exists, the second part begins with the hexagrams of courtship and marriage, the foundations of all social relationships.


The Judgement

The weak element is above, the strong below; hence their powers attract each other, so that they unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent the joy from going to excess and hold it within proper bounds. This is the meaning of the added admonition, "Perseverance furthers," for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men's hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.


The Image

A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.


The Lines

The bottom line marked
A movement, before it is actually carried out, shows itself first in the toes. The idea of an influence is already present, but is not immediately apparent to others. As long as the intention has no visible effect, it is of no importance to the outside world and leads neither to good nor to evil.


The 2nd line from the bottom marked
In movement, the calf of the leg follows the foot; by itself it can neither go forward nor stand still. Since the movement is not self-governed, it bodes ill. One should wait quietly until one is impelled to action by a real influence. Then one remains uninjured.


The 3rd line from the bottom marked
Every mood of the heart influences us to movement. What the heart desires, the thighs run after without a moment's hesitation; they hold to the heart, which they follow. In the life of man, however, acting on the spur of every caprice is wrong and if continued leads to humiliation. Three considerations suggest themselves here. First, a man should not run precipitately after all the persons whom he would like to influence, but must be able to hold back under certain circumstances. As little should he yield immediately to every whim of those in whose service he stands. Finally, where the moods of his own heart are concerned, he should never ignore the possibility of inhibition, for this is the basis of human freedom.


The 4th line from the bottom marked
Here the place of the heart is reached. The impulse that springs from this source is the most important of all. It is of particular concern that this influence be constant and good; then, in spite of the danger arising from the great susceptibility of the human heart, there will be no cause for remorse. When the quiet power of a man's own character is at work, the effects produced are right. All those who are receptive to the vibrations of such a spirit will then be influenced. Influence over others should not express itself as a conscious and willed effort to manipulate them. Through practicing such conscious incitement, one becomes wrought up and is exhausted by the eternal stress and strain. Moreover, the effects produced are then limited to those on whom one's thoughts are consciously fixed.


The 5th line from the bottom marked
The back of the neck is the most rigid part of the body. When the influence shows itself there, the will remains firm and the influence does not lead to confusion. Hence remorse does not enter into consideration here. What takes place in the depths of one's being, in the unconscious mind. It is true that if we cannot be influenced ourselves, we cannot influence the outside world.


The top line marked
The most superficial way of trying to influence others is through talk that has nothing real behind it. The influence produced by such mere tongue wagging must necessarily remain insignificant. Hence no indication is added regarding good or bad fortune.



Further Reading


Here I add some perspectives on this hexagram, as well as other methods to read its meaning, in additon to what Richard Wilhelm derives from it above.


Meaning of the Trigrams Combined

Each hexagram combines two trigrams, making one the upper and the other the lower. The meaning of the hexagram is mainly derived from that combination. Here's what it means for this hexagram:


Lake upon Mountain

This part of the text is being edited. It will be added shortly.


Compare to the Reversed Trigrams

It's common to compare a hexagram to the one where the lines are the opposite: a full line is broken and a broken line full. But I find it much more interesting to compare hexagrams with the trigrams reversed: the upper trigram becomes the lower, and the lower trigram becomes the upper. That deepens the understanding of the trigrams at work - when they're not identical. Click the image to see what it means for the two trigrams of this hexagram:

I Ching Hexagram 41
The hexagram with the trigrams reversed


Compare to the Reversed Lines

You can also compare this hexagram to its opposite according to the six lines, where each broken line is full, and vice versa. In some cases it leads to the same hexagram as the one where the trigrams are switched. Here is the hexagram with reversed lines (click it to get to its webpage):

I Ching Hexagram 41
Hexagram with opposite lines


The I Ching Trigrams

Click the header to read more about the eight trigrams that are combined into the 64 hexagrams.


The 64 I Ching Hexagrams

An I Ching hexagram is composed of two trigrams. Each of the 64 hexagrams has its own name, meaning, and divinatory text. Here they all are, in the traditional order. Click on the image of an I Ching hexagram to get to its webpage.


I Ching Hexagram 1
1
Creative
I Ching Hexagram 2
2
Receptive
I Ching Hexagram 3
3
Difficulty
I Ching Hexagram 4
4
Folly
I Ching Hexagram 5
5
Waiting
I Ching Hexagram 6
6
Conflict
I Ching Hexagram 7
7
Army
I Ching Hexagram 8
8
Union
I Ching Hexagram 9
9
Taming
I Ching Hexagram 10
10
Treading
I Ching Hexagram 11
11
Peace
I Ching Hexagram 12
12
Standstill
I Ching Hexagram 13
13
Fellowship
I Ching Hexagram 14
14
Possession
I Ching Hexagram 15
15
Modesty
I Ching Hexagram 16
16
Enthusiasm
I Ching Hexagram 17
17
Following
I Ching Hexagram 18
18
Decay
I Ching Hexagram 19
19
Approach
I Ching Hexagram 20
20
View
I Ching Hexagram 21
21
Biting
I Ching Hexagram 22
22
Grace
I Ching Hexagram 23
23
Splitting
I Ching Hexagram 24
24
Return
I Ching Hexagram 25
25
Innocence
I Ching Hexagram 26
26
Taming
I Ching Hexagram 27
27
Mouth
I Ching Hexagram 28
28
Preponderance
I Ching Hexagram 29
29
Abysmal
I Ching Hexagram 30
30
Clinging
I Ching Hexagram 31
31
Influence
I Ching Hexagram 32
32
Duration
I Ching Hexagram 33
33
Retreat
I Ching Hexagram 34
34
Power
I Ching Hexagram 35
35
Progress
I Ching Hexagram 36
36
Darkening
I Ching Hexagram 37
37
Family
I Ching Hexagram 38
38
Opposition
I Ching Hexagram 39
39
Obstruction
I Ching Hexagram 40
40
Deliverance
I Ching Hexagram 41
41
Decrease
I Ching Hexagram 42
42
Increase
I Ching Hexagram 43
43
Resoluteness
I Ching Hexagram 44
44
Coming
I Ching Hexagram 45
45
Gathering
I Ching Hexagram 46
46
Pushing
I Ching Hexagram 47
47
Oppression
I Ching Hexagram 48
48
Well
I Ching Hexagram 49
49
Revolution
I Ching Hexagram 50
50
Caldron
I Ching Hexagram 51
51
Arousing
I Ching Hexagram 52
52
Still
I Ching Hexagram 53
53
Development
I Ching Hexagram 54
54
Marrying
I Ching Hexagram 55
55
Abundance
I Ching Hexagram 56
56
Wanderer
I Ching Hexagram 57
57
Gentle
I Ching Hexagram 58
58
Joyous
I Ching Hexagram 59
59
Dispersion
I Ching Hexagram 60
60
Limitation
I Ching Hexagram 61
61
Truth
I Ching Hexagram 62
62
Small
I Ching Hexagram 63
63
After
I Ching Hexagram 64
64
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