29 Repeated Kan3 習坎



The lower: Kan (the abyss, water). The upper: Kan (the abyss, water).

Repeated Kan: multiple perils, or learning from peril






Things cannot always remain excessive (Guo); therefore Kan is granted.  Kan is the abyss. Life is a course that varies with each phase; it will decline after having reached a peak. Da Guo (28) signifies that the masculine greatly exceeds the feminine in number, while Kan is the masculine being trapped by the feminine, like getting plunged into an abyss. Kan () in Chinese is composed of two characters, short of () and the soil (); thus Kan is an abysmal trap and stands for peril. Hexagram Repeated Kan is constituted by two trigram Kans; therefore it is signified as multiple perils. 

Trigram Kan is one masculine line seated between two feminine lines, which signifies that masculinity is trapped by femininity and in peril. One solid line moves between two broken lines also indicating a river streaming over the rapids; therefore the image of trigram Kan is water (, the oracle bone scrip of water shui3). Trigram Kan also denotes sincerity and trust as its masculine line is seen as a solid heart in the middle of human body.

The reversal of hexagram Repeated Kan is itself, signifying that it is still perilous from the other perspective of viewing. The changed and next hexagram of Repeated Kan is Li (30), brightness and civilisation, which suggests that one should optimistically and faithfully undergo multiple perils. Its inner hexagram is Yi2 (27), to nourish, suggesting nourishing one's body in order to undergo multiple perils.


Text: Repeated Kan (multiple perils); (undergoing it requires possessing) sincerity and trust, keeping the heart progressing smoothly, (and) acting according to what is advocated (or anticipated).

Commentary on the text: Repeated Kan, (signifying) multiple perils.  Water continuously flows and won’t brim; it travels in peril but won’t lose sincerity and trust.  (It ought) to keep the heart progressing smoothly, and it can count on (those of) rigidity (lines 2 and 5) in the middle.  (It ought) to act according to what is advocated (or anticipated), as there is merit (obtainable) in going forth.  The peril of the heavens cannot be surmounted; the peril of the earth includes the mountain, the river and the hill.  The king and duke employ the perilous terrain to protect the country. In the time of Kan making (appropriate) use of (Kan) is momentous!

Text explanation:

Trigram Kan denotes water which flows downward. The water of the lower trigram Kan flows downward, and the water of the upper trigram Kan flows down to the lower trigram Kan; therefore it continues flowing without stop. The flowing water will brim if it is stopped and contained. The water of Repeated Kan won’t brim, signifying that it won't stop and change its instinct (of flowing downward) in multiple perils, i.e. it acts constantly and consistently, which is signified as sincerity and trust denoted by trigram Kan. So do people should not change their virtue, values, principle, commitment, etc. when encountering peril.

Lines 2 and 5 are both the rigid masculine at the axle centre, signifying that they are firm and possess the principle of moderation, as well as act sincerely and trustworthily. With these there will be nothing daunting or hesitant in the heart. To act with a fixed goal and according to the planned course, it can go forth and merit is attainable as the next hexagram Li is brightness and civilisation.

Peril in the heavens, such as wind, rain, thunder and lightning, varies capriciously and cannot be surmounted. Peril on the earth, including mountain and river, is those which are difficult to cross and favour defence. The king and duke make use of these perilous terrains to protect the country; it is meaningful when peril is used as the protective measures.

Commentary on the image: Water is uninterruptedly approaching; Repeated Kan.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, must act with his virtue as usual, and repeatedly review what is taught.

Repeated Kan in Chinese, xi2 (to review what has been learned) kan3, can be literally translated as 'learning from Kan’, i.e. to learn how to travel in the abyss but not be trapped, and to act in peril but not be hurt.

Water like peril is approaching, one after another. A gentleman should not be afraid and change his virtue, but repeatedly learn what has been experienced in peril.

Divinatory reference:

In multiple perils one must remain sincere and trustworthy (with respect to one’s virtue, values, principle, commitment, etc.), keep the heart progressing smoothly (i.e. be faithful and optimistic, not afraid of peril or affected by it), and behave firmly and moderately (i.e. neither aggressively nor yieldingly), as well as act with a fixed goal and according to the advocated life course.

Repeated Kan only possesses the virtue of smooth progress, as it is that which is required to leave the multiple perils.

One can reach civilisation and one’s future will become bright after successfully undergoing and learning form the abysmal peril. The next hexagram Li (30), brightness and civilisation, is also the changed hexagram of Repeated Kan.






Line 6 of hexagram 28 (Da Guo) walks through water (and the water) overwhelms its head, (which is) an ominous omen, (but with) no calamity. Although it can be free from calamity, it is still trapped in the river after it left hexagram Da Guo and arrives at hexagram Repeated Kan.

In Repeated Kan, all the lines are trapped in the abyss or river and must undergo peril. Line 1 lacks experience; therefore it is trapped while encountering peril. Lines 2 and 5 possess the masculine strength and the principle of moderation; they are able to make achievements not aggressively and lessen the threat with an unyielding attitude. Line 3 must halt and remain alert when peril appears one after another. Line 4 approaches line 5 for assistance and succeeds in evading calamity. Line 6 doesn’t act according to the experiences learnt in peril; therefore it is put into the dark jail. However if it can take the lesson, it will see the sun at midday in the next hexagram Li (30), brightness.  


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Repeated Kan (multiple perils, or learning from Kan); (it is) falling into the pit of Kan (the abyss and peril), (which is) an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

Line 1 enters multiple perils and falls into the pit of the abyss, like a person getting lost on his life course, arriving at a dangerous place and being plunged into peril, which is ominous. The broken line stroke of line 1 is referred to as the pit of the lower trigram Kan, the abysmal trap and peril.

The text can be also interpreted as (the subject is in a state of) learning how to tackle Kan, (but) falling into the pit of Kan, (which is) an ominous omen, and which is due to lacking experience with repeated Kan and failing to act according to its norm.

Commentary on the image: (Line 1 is in a state of) Repeated Kan (multiple perils, or learning from Kan) and falling into Kan; losing the course (or the norm) is ominous.

Though line 6 of Da Guo survived, it fails to reach position 2, of which the line represents Repeated Kan and possesses the norm of undergoing multiple perils, and falls into the pit of peril.

Line's behaviour (of six one) for divinatory reference: A person misses the right course and falls into the pit of the abysmal peril; this is ominous. Or, he is unable to act according to the norm of Repeated Kan while learning how to tackle Kan, which plunges him into peril; this is ominous. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated is Jie (60), to restrict, where one must abide by restriction as well as carry out self-restraint; this is possibly the advice. Recommendation at this stage: 1) don't risk peril, or 2) to restrain oneself.


The 2nd line

Text: Kan (the abyss) has peril, (signifying) to seek a small attainment.

Text explanation:

Line 2 reaches the middle of the abysmal peril. It isn't afraid of peril because it possesses masculine rigidity (i.e. strength and firmness). It has an opportunity to leave peril as the masculine tends to move; however it is still far from the end of the hexagram. It should not act aggressively but rather moderately, which suggests that it should engage in small achievements only.

Commentary on the image: To seek a small attainment, (which is due to) not departing from the middle (of peril, or the principle of moderation) yet.

It is still in peril although it represents the inner lower trigram Zhen (to move); thus it is only permitted to advance with the principle of moderation (i.e. neither haste nor hesitation) and step-by-step.


Line's behaviour (of nine two) for divinatory reference: Though one possesses strength and firmness, one should act moderately and make small achievements only, as the environment still is perilous. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated is Bi3 (8), intimate interdependence, which suggests mutual help or alliance. Recommendation at this stage: to secure safety and then seek a small achievement.


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) coming and going (between) Kan and Kan (the abysmal peril), (it is) in peril but tentatively taking a rest.  (It ought to avoid) falling into the pit of Kan (the abyss), do not act.

Text explanation:

One is in peril and in dilemma as well because there is no way to get out from the plight. It is better to remain still and alert; otherwise one will be plunged deeper into peril.

The feminine line 3 is at the position to leave the lower trigram Kan and for march to the upper trigram. However the upper trigram in front is Kan as well; therefore it moves back and forth between two Kans. Since the inner upper trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) signifies stop and the feminine tends to remain still, it had better take a rest; otherwise by keeping on going forth it will fall into the pit of the upper trigram Kan.

Commentary on the image: (Line 3 is in a state of) coming and going (between) Kan and Kan (the abysmal peril), (signifying) no merit is achievable in the end.

There is no access to reach position 6 and leave Repeated Kan but a possibility of falling into the pit of the upper trigram Kan, i.e. position 4 which has the same setup as position 1 of the lower trigram. Therefore it should not make a trial.



Line's behaviour (of six three) for divinatory reference: Peril lies in front and at rear; one is in peril and in dilemma. Even though one struggles back and forth but there is no way to get out of the plight, so it is better to tentatively take a rest but remain alert. No matter what is done, there is nothing achievable and one will be plunged further into peril. Should this line ignore the warning and change to the masculine (becoming active and in correlation with line 6), the hexagram would become Jing (48), the well, where the earthen bucket breaks before the rope reaches the top of the well. Recommendation at this stage: to secure safety and wait for the right time.


The 4th line

Text: One jug of wine, (and) two bowls of grains, (they are contained only possible by)  using the earthen utensil, (the subject ought) to offer a pact concisely through the window (built for ambient lighting) (納約自牖); eventually there will be no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

One jug of wine with two bowls of grains, both contained in the earthen utensils, is a simple gift. In the time of multiple perils it is difficult to prepare munificent and eye-catching gifts; therefore the gift must be presented in a notable way, through a right channel and to the right person; this signifies that the approach for assistance must be done, simply and effectively. yue of na4 (to offer in a submissive manner) 約自 zi4 (from) you3 can mean both conciseness and a pact. is a window built on the ancient house for ambient lighting; it is the brightest place in a room where things can be clearly seen.

Though line 4 has left the lower trigram Kan, it is still in the peril of the upper trigram Kan but in a position of sustaining line 5, the masculine axle centre; therefore it submits its request with the simple gift to ask for line 5's assistance. After it successfully approaches line 5, the upper Kan disappears and changes to Zhen (to move). Then it is driven by Zhen moving away from peril, and the hexagram turns to be Xie (40), alleviation of the crisis.



The upper trigram Kan, water, is taken here for wine, and the contour from line 2 to 5 is similar to that of hexagram Yi (27), nourishment, i.e. food, while the inner lower trigram Zhen is the ritual utensil. Trigram Zhen, the reversal of trigram of Gen (the mountain, the hand), also resembles a hand turning upward and moves (wine and food) upward, while the hand of the inner upper trigram Gen receives (them).




The inner upper trigram Gen denotes the door and here is taken for the window. After lines 4 and 5 exchange positions, the inner lower trigram appears in the form of Li (clinging, fire), brightness, signifying the action of presenting gift is clearly expressed.



Commentary on the image: (By means of offering) one jug of wine, (and) two bowls of grains, (line 4 breaks) the boundary between (those of) rigidity and tenderness.

By presenting the simple gift, line 4 breaks the boundary between the masculine line 5 and the feminine line 4, wins line 5's assistance and creates an opportunity to leave peril.

While divining, hexagram Xie (40) will be obtained if both lines 4 and 5 are activated and change together; this signifies that they must cooperate to solve the crisis.   

Line's behaviour (of six four) for divinatory reference: One jug of wine and two bowls of grains both are contained in the earthen utensils and presented clearly with one's request to the right person, signifying simplicity and sincerity, as well as a correct action at the correct moment. As a result those above and below work together, and one is rescued from the possible calamity created by peril. Should this line change (i.e. act without such an approach), the hexagram would become Kun4 (47), to be besieged. Recommendation at this stage: to act in a sincere and effective way to obtain alliance for leaving peril. 


The 5th line

Text: Kan (the abysmal peril or water) doesn't brim, (and) the land emerges with its flat top (祇既平), (which is of) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

The water of the abyss is ebbing; thus the sandbank emerges with its flat top. As the sand-bank is available, there is no imminent peril. gi2 of 祇既ji4 (already) ping2 (flat) is the deity of earth, which here is signified as the land. The inner upper trigram Gen denotes the mountain and line 5 looks like a sandbank emerging from the river.



Even though line 5 is masculine strength and on the sandbank, it is still in peril as the sand-bank might be deluged becoming a hidden reef. Therefore it must still exert itself unyieldingly to turn peril into safety, and then it can be completely free from calamity.

Commentary on the image: Kan (the abysmal peril or water) doesn't brim, yet the middle isn't big enough.

Owing to the principle of moderation available at position 5, the water of the abyss won’t brim. However, since the sandbank only emerges with its flat top, i.e. the masculine strength of line 5 isn't large enough and peril still exists, it must enhance itself (i.e. its masculinity) in order to enlarge the sandbank.  

Line's behaviour (of nine five) for divinatory reference: The sandbank emerges, so it is not in imminent peril. However the sandbank is not big enough, one should enlarge victories in order to secure complete freedom from peril. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated is Shi (7), the army. Recommendation at this stage: keep on doing what is right.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) being fastened by the cord and rope, (and) put in thorn bushes; (release is) not (possible) to be obtained within three years, (which is) an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

Thorn bushes here refer to those planted on the wall of a prison for preventing escape. A person is fastened and put in jail over three years, signifying he is a felon and won’t be released shortly.

 Trigram Kan represents the law as water can be used as a tool to check the level. The inner upper trigram Gen looks like a door and here stands for a house. Trigram Kan also denotes a rigid tree with lots of thorns which is taken for the thorn bushes. These construct the image of a prison.


Line 6 reaches the end of hexagram Repeated Kan. Peril is supposedly about to end and the situation will change to safty. However, contrarily peril becomes more serious and time is seemingly frozen like being put in jail; this is because it doesn’t act according to what is taught along the course.

Commentary on the image: Line 6 loses the norm (or, Line 6 gets lost on the course); (so the situation will remain) ominous for three years.

The feminine line 6 rides on the masculine line 5, signifying that it intimidates line 5; therefore the norm represented by line 5, the host line of Repeated Kan that lessens the multiple perils, is humiliated.

Since it doesn’t act according to what is taught, it gets lost in peril and is put in the dark jail. This will last till it passes three steps (i.e. three years) and reaches position 2 of the next hexagram, Li (30), where the sun at midday is seen after it pays for its missteps.

Line's behaviour (of six six) for divinatory reference: One gets lost on the journey (again) and can’t leave peril, like a repeated offender being fastened and put in jail; this is ominous. The hexagram after this line changes is Huan (59), where the wind is dispersing the water of the lower trigram Kan, signifying one can be back to the correct trend and find a way to reach the next hexagram Li, brightness, if one can learn from the experiences in Repeated Kan and behave like line 6 of hexagram Huan. Recommendation at this stage: 1) to learn from experiences and avoid the same fault, or 2) to depart, and stay far away, as well as to get out from peril.