Gen (keeping still, the mountain). The upper: Kun (submissiveness,
humility (modesty); to construct and form the qualities of humility.
avoid overflowing after having gained abundant possessions (Da
You); therefore Qian1
is granted. Qian1
should be above the earth, but here it stays below. The internal
trigram Gen remains still, while the external trigram Kun exhibits
submissiveness. This signifies that one should restrain oneself
internally and appear submissive externally; this is the main aspect
and virtue of humility.
hexagram of Qian1
is Xie (40), to alleviate or
dissolve, signifying the intent of humility is to dissolve conflict
and alleviate strained relationships. Its changing hexagram is Lu
(10), to carry out tasks in accordance with etiquette which is the
consequence of humble actions. Hexagrams Qian1
and Lu are two facets of the same subject.
It won’t do
any harm if a person always behaves with appropriate humility in
accordance with his status and circumstances; hence neither the
hexagram text nor the texts of its six lines contain any ominous
(which is of) smooth progress; a gentleman carries (it)
through to the end.
Commentary on the text: Qian1
(humility), (which is
of) smooth progress. The norm of Heaven is to provide aid
downward and brighten (those below); the norm of earth is
to be lowly (at the lower position) but go upward. The
norm of Heaven is to lessen what is full and add to
the norm of earth
is to convert what is full and pour it into Qian1;
(the norms of) ghost and god signify to harm what
is full and bless Qian1;
the norm of humans
is to dislike what is
full and adore Qian1.
is dignified and
brilliant, lowly but not overtaken; it is where a gentleman
Line 3, the
representative line of hexagram Qian1,
also represents the inner upper trigram Zhen (to move, the thunder)
while the upper trigram Kun represents the plains. The plains are in
front and line 3 moves toward them; thus it will progress smoothly.
Line 3 is a gentleman and correlates with line 6, the end of
hence he can carry through Qian1
(humility) to the end.
Line 3, the
bright masculine, of hexagram Qian1
was originally line 6 of
hexagram Bo (23) which descends from the heavenly domain (see
'Commentary on the image' below for further information). It thus forms
and brightens its norm. On
the other hand, line 3 of hexagram Bo is located at a low rank then
ascends and causes the lower trigram Kun (the norm of earth) to move
to the top. This signifies that hexagram Qian1
is created by
accommodating those below while staying high. While staying low, one
should strive upwards. Hereafter hexagram Qian1
performs in such a way that
one will be neither arrogant at the top nor overtaken when lowly,
humble and dignified.
are full (i.e. proud) will overflow, which leads to loss. However,
things that are not full (i.e. humble) can take in more, i.e. a
gain. Heaven, earth, ghost and god (i.e. fate), as well as humans,
tend to lessen what is full and add to what is insufficient. This is
like the moon which wanes after it is full, and water which flows
downward to lower ground. This signifies that a proud person is
destined to fail while it is easier for a humble person to gain
assistance from others.
Commentary on the image: Within earth, a mountain; Qian1.
A gentleman, in accordance with this, lessens that which is
excessive and increases that which is insufficient,
weighing and making things equal.
Bo (23), all lines below line 6 are overpowered by feminine, so
line 6 descends as suggested by its commentary on the image: to be
generous to those below to reinforce the foundation. By moving the
mountain of trigram Gen below the earth, hexagram Qian1
mountain can remain below the earth, those with a surplus can
certainly use it to provide for those in need.
humility, things can progress smoothly. A gentleman can carry
through his mission to the end, or he is someone who can attain the
goal of Qian1.
The norm of Qian1
is to not be proud while
staying high, and to strive upward while staying low. Humility is
not arrogant but dignified, like someone keeping a low profile but
not tolerating offense.
aims to dissolve conflict and alleviate people from strained
relationships, as suggested by its inner hexagram Xie (40). When
humility is practiced, people won't be bitten even if treading on a
tiger's tail, as its changing hexagram Lu (10) indicates.
must not be keen to create benefit; it should attain goals but not
take credit for them. Thus it only possesses the virtue of smooth
progress, which leads one to one’s goal.
of hexagram Da You (14),
abundant possessions to be shared by all, the commentary on the
image of hexagram Qian1
further suggests lessening
surplus and increasing what is deficient
while weighing and making them equal.
Line 3, the
representative line of Qian1,
stands for the true humility toward which it perseveres. The other
five feminine lines behave differently according to their relations
with it. Line 1 has no connection with line 3; thus it must count on
its own humility and use it as a basic virtue for dealing with
others and accomplishing tasks. Line 2 is in the internal trigram
and occupied by line 3; thus it enhances its interior with true
humility. Line 4 is riding on line 3 and must radiate humility at
the exterior. Line 5 at the king’s position is independent from line
3; it need not be humble but neither
oppress. Then it can subdue those who are disobedient. Line 6
corrects its excessive humility by correlating with line 3.
The norm of
Heaven is to assist those below in performing with humility and
brighten the norm of hexagram Qian1.
of earth is to be at a low rank but striving upward. Therefore,
lines 1 and 2 in the earthly domain must humbly cultivate themselves
and establish their inner quality in order to develop upwards while
staying low. If they are activated together, the hexagram will
become Tai (11), (those above and below engage in) a smooth,
unobstructed, harmonious and peaceful state. Lines 5 and 6 in the
heavenly domain must correct those actions that don't conform to the
norm of hexagram Qian1
in order to manifest true
humility. If both act simultaneously, the hexagram will become Jian4
(53), the image of
which suggests amassing virtue in order to improve customs. Lines 3
and 4 in the human domain must act humbly in order to be promoted,
or avoid calamity. If they both are activated accordingly, the
hexagram will become Yu (16), wherein it is instrumental to launch a
new undertaking and take aggressive action when carrying out an
(The subject is a) Qian1
(humble and humble)
gentleman; by virtue of this
he undertakes crossing a great river; (this is of)
is humble and humbly cultivates himself. This way he can overcome
the difficulties he encounters and undertake a great task; this is
Line 1 is at
the bottom of the hexagram which stands for humility. It is a tender
feminine, but at a masculine position (i.e. a place not right for
it); it must humbly cultivate itself.
lower trigram Kan (the abyss, water) is a river. If line 1 intends
to cross it, it must change to masculine, i.e. it must cultivate
itself to become righteous and active in order to exchange positions
with line 4. After it crosses the river and reaches position 4, the
upper trigram becomes Zhen (to move, the thunder) signifying that it
can move ahead towards what is intended, i.e. to serve the king,
viewpoint of dealing with a task, behaving humbly will enable one to
easily obtain assistance from others. To humbly cultivate oneself
means admitting one's weakness and enhancing oneself accordingly.
This is the comportment and attitude required for undertaking a
Commentary on the image: (Line 1 is a) Qian1
(humble and humble)
gentleman; (this signifies) cultivating oneself by virtue of
Line 1 has
no association with line 3, the representative line of Qian1,
true humility; it counts on its own humility to cultivate itself.
Enlightenment through six one: to act very humbly at a low rank
in order to develop upward. A
gentleman is doubly humble, i.e. he is humble and humbly cultivates
himself; this enables him to overcome difficulties undertaking a great task.
This is auspicious. When this line is triggered to move, it is
advised to be
doubly humble and ready for the task. However, the hexagram will
become Ming Yi (36), brightness being tarnished, which suggesting
that people must suspend their aspirations and actions, if it ends
up as masculine. Here it flees along the timeline for life like a
bird fleeing with its wing hanging down. Then the hexagram will
become Xiao Guo (62) as indicated above, and the bird can fly freely
as long as it isn't greed for high.
(The subject is in a state of) resonating Qian1
to persist is auspicious.
simplicity (in living) (儉jian3),
and acquiescence (讓rang4)
the five elementary virtues integral to humility. If these five
virtues act together in a harmonious manner, humility will be
Line 2 stays
at its right position, signifying it acts righteously according to
what is good. It sustains masculine line 3 expressing its reverence,
and it doesn't correlate with line 5 meaning it possesses simplicity
as it is content with its lot. Additionally it is a feminine axle
centre. Feminine is tender and the principle of moderation
(neither striving to be first nor fear of lagging behind) is
available at the axle centre. These five virtues
resonate with line 3, the representative line of Qian1
and the inner upper trigram
Zhen (to move, the thunder) which occupies them and creates
Commentary on the image: Resonating Qian1
and to persist is auspicious, (signifying that to be)
moderate (in following the) heart (of humility leads
to the) attainment (of this resonance).
literally means the call of birds; it is interpreted here as
resonance as it is cooperation in harmony.
“just right” humility entails moderate cultivation in accordance
The inner lower trigram Kan denotes a solid heart. Line 3,
its representative line and the representative line of hexagram Qian1,
is the core of humility. Line 2, which possesses the principle of
moderation, sustains line 3 which occupies it. It acts justly in
following the tone of line 3, creating resonance.
Enlightenment through six two: to make use of inborn virtue (or
talent) to foster one’s humility (or ability) in order to gain
people’s recognition. One’s virtues resonate and
create humility; one becomes humble and is recognised as possessing
humility, thus it is auspicious to persist. The hexagram that forms
after this line is activated accordingly is Sheng (46), to rise,
where virtuous people will be promoted.
The 3rd line
without seeking merit; to carry
(it) through to the end is auspicious.
To work hard
(i.e. always exerting
oneself to act with true humility), or to work hard without seeking
merit (which is the utmost demonstration of humility). To exhibit
these qualities through to the end is auspicious.
Line 3 is
the only masculine line of hexagram Qian1,
i.e. it is the representative line of hexagram Qian1
exhibits its true significance. In addition, the inner lower trigram
Kan (the abyss, water) represented by it denotes hard work, i.e. it
works very hard on humility. Consequently it can carry through true
humility to the end as signified below.
statement in Xi Ci Zhuan (i.e. the commentary on the text tagging):
"To work hard but without exaggerating, (and) to attain merit but
without taking credit for it, (is) honesty and reliability reaching
the utmost, (and) refers to one who bestows achievement and merit on
those below (or, who attains achievement and merit but stays below
others). Virtue is something which must be grand, (and) etiquette is
something which must be reverent. Qian1
means (that one behaves
with) the utmost reverence at one’s post."
King Wen’s diagram, trigram Kan is winter and in the north where
people have to work hard to make a living. In addition to the
meaning of working hard,
can also be signified as
achievement or merit. Humility related to achievement or merit is
paraphrased here as someone attaining achievement or merit but not
taking credit for it.
Commentary on the image: (Like) hardworking Qian1
not seeking merit a gentleman
(acts); (so) hundreds of thousands of people obey
It is the
only masculine line sitting amongst five feminine lines. The upper
trigram Kun denotes people and is signified as submissiveness. Line
3 represents the inner upper trigram Zhen, to move. Hence, in
addition to line 2 sustaining line 3, line 3 also drives the people
who submissively stay above. Thus, hundreds of thousands of people
On the other
hand, line 3 is at the position for marching upward to the upper
trigram, i.e. elite society. It must work hard but not seek merit
which will enable it to obtain the support of those above while
Enlightenment through nine three: to bear hardship with humility
and last to the end. A
gentleman must always strive to act with true humility and work hard
without seeking merit. To carry these efforts through to the end is
auspicious, and all people will support him, including those above. The hexagram that forms
after this line acts accordingly and ends up as feminine is Kun (2), earth, which
submits to Heaven acting as an assistance and adherent.
Nothing is unfavourable; (this is due to)
like waving it (撝謙).
humility like waving a flag means to exhibit humility in an
is commonly annotated as waving, signifying that in this way
humility is flaunted and brought into full play.
worked hard with humility at position 3, the line arrives at the
upper trigram and at a position for resting. However, position 4 is
also a place for serving the king, line 5. Thus line 4 must work and
rest with humility as it is situated between line 3, the
representative line of Qian1,
humility, and line 5, the representative line of Kun,
submissiveness. Therefore there is nothing unfavourable by carrying
out what one is obligated to do.
Commentary on the image: (Line 4 is in a state of) nothing
unfavourable to manifest Qian1
like waving it, (as) it
does not offend the rule.
With all the
cultivated virtue of humility, line 4 arrives at elite society but
turns to ride on line 3, the representative line of Qian1
inner lower trigram Kan (i.e.
the rule, as water is a measuring medium used to check
levels). It waves humility as if flaunting it. However, this doesn’t
offend the rule of acting with humility, i.e. with a low profile, as
it has to exhibit humility from the interior to the exterior at the
position of serving the king.
originally meant to
can be also
paraphrased as humility splitting like a cell dividing, from one to
two, then from two to four. Line 4 stays at the courtier's position
and next to the king. One can never be too humble.
Enlightenment through six four: 1) to stick strictly to humility
and bring it into full play, or 2) to exhibit what is necessary (in
order to perform one’s job without incurring calamity). Exhibiting humility in full is nothing unfavourable.
will become Xiao Guo (62), a little excess of moderation, i.e.
being slightly overly-reverential in conduct, slightly
overly-restrained in desire and so on, if this line is
and changes to masculine.
(The subject should)
(count on its)
to undertake an invasion and
attack; nothing is
Solid masculine (Yang) is seen as one with wealth, and void
feminine (Yin) is one not wealthy. Line 5 is a
feminine axle centre at the king’s position, like a king who
tenderly engages his subjects through the principle of moderation
rather than power (i.e. wealth). However, if there is disobedience,
line 5 can use the force of power to attack and conquer it. The king
is dignified and esteemed, and while not arrogant, he is not feeble
Instead of using the word, Qian1
(humility), as the other lines do, this
line mentions “not (counting on its) wealth”. This signifies that
there is no need for the king to be humble, yet he shouldn't abuse
his power to oppress others either. However line 5 is the king,
while line 3, the duke, receives all the people’s support.
Line 5 could change to the strong masculine, move to position 2 and
exchange positions with it. Afterward, the lower trigram would
become Xun (to enter, the wind), which denotes prostration. Then all
those below would become obedient, and line 5 would remain feminine,
maintaining its former attitude. In the resulting hexagram, Sheng
(46), those below would obtain an opportunity to rise in a tender
and opportune manner.
Commentary on the image: It is advantageous (or
appropriate) to undertake an invasion and attack, (and)
to conquer the one who is disobedient.
obedience to the king is an important part of the humility of those
below. Line 2 sustains line 3 (the duke) instead of correlating with
line 5 (the king), which incurs an attack by the king.
Enlightenment through six five:
neither arrogant with one's power nor compromising with
disobedience, or 2) to forcibly correct what is wrong.
Not to associate with others based at
one's wealth signifies not abusing power to oppress others.
But if someone is disobedient, one is allowed to attack and conquer
him, i.e. to correct him forcibly. Then nothing is unfavourable.
Should this line change to masculine and remain masculine, the
hexagram would become Jian3
(39), difficulty in
proceeding. Here line 5 sits in the middle of the upper trigram Kan,
a grave crisis, and is trapped in peril.
(The subject is in a state of) resonating Qian1
it is advantageous (or appropriate) to
undertake the dispatch of troops, (and) to conquer the
becomes excessively humble, one must use rigid forces to correct
oneself to have true humility restored.
feminine line 6 stays at the feminine position and reaches the upper
extremity of hexagram Qian1,
humility, and the top of the upper trigram Kun, submissiveness. It
becomes extremely humble. It correlates with line 3, the
representative line of Qian1
and the representative line
of the lower trigram Gen, to stop. Therefore, it resonates with true
humility and is then regulated accordingly.
undertake the dispatch of troops to conquer the manor’ means ‘to
take forcible action to correct oneself’. The image which lines 2 to
6 presents resembles that of hexagram Shi (7), troops, with line 3
representing the inner upper trigram Zhen (to move). This presents a
scene of dispatching troops, and also indicates that line 6 makes
use of line 3, true humility and masculinity, to conquer its own
extreme humility and femininity.
Commentary on the image: (Line 6 is in a state of) resonating
the aspiration (of carrying out humility) can't be realized.
(It ought) to undertake the dispatch of the troops, (and)
conquer the manor.
excessive humility, true humility can't be properly carried out nor
its aspirations realised. This line must make use of rigid
masculinity to counter-balance its excessive femininity and
Enlightenment through six six: 1) too much
is as bad as too little, or 2) to reflect on and correct oneself. When one
has carried humility to its extreme, one must take forcible action
to correct oneself. Otherwise true humility can't be manifested and
the aspirations (of carrying out humility to the end) won't be realised. The hexagram that
forms while masculine appears here is
Gen (52), which stops and moves when
required. Thus, when humility acts appropriately
and at the right time, the norm of hexagram Qian1
performance of humility outlined in hexagram 15 can be seen in the
example of three men who lived at the end of the Shang Dynasty and
the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty.
honoured as the founder of the Zhou Dynasty and commonly known as
King Wen of Zhou, possessed two thirds of the states of
ancient China, yet still served the Shang as he was humble and
humbly cultivated himself. By virtue of his humility, he bravely
left his home state to respond to King Zhou’s (紂王)
summons, which is reflective of line 1. He was imprisoned by King
Zhou at You Li (羑里),
but remained humble and exhibited it through the principle of
moderation. His sincerity was recognized in the end, as seen in line
2; as a result, he was released.
assisted his brother, King Wu of Zhou (周武王),
and his young nephew, King Zheng of Zhou (周成王),
in establishing and governing the Zhou. He achieved much merit, but
did not take credit for it. He held a powerful position but always
behaved with humility. All this is exhibited in lines 3 and 4.
Chang served King Zhou with humility, which is the ultimate
expression of not
using strength in associating with neighbours. Conversely, King Zhou
was tyrannical; instead of being friendly to his neighbouring dukes, he
confiscated their lands and properties,
i.e. he used his power in associating with neighbours.
As a result of his oppression, King Wu of Zhou launched a war and overthrew him, as seen in
Wu of Zhou passed away, Zhou Gong Dan became the most powerful man,
but he still loyally served his young nephew; this showed his utmost
modesty. However, three of his brothers mistakenly suspected that he
intended to take over the throne, and allied with the ex-prince of
Shang against him. Consequently Zhou Gong Dan had to dispatch troops
to quell their rebellion.