31 Xian2



The lower: Gen (keeping still, the mountain). The upper: Dui (joy, the marsh).

Xian: telepathy or influence; to attain a common goal by the heartfelt inspiration with others






Life is created after heaven and earth are formed; the child is born after man and woman are wed.  The norms of monarch and subject follow after the relationship of father and son is established.  Etiquette and appropriateness are carried out after superiority and inferiority come into existence.

xian2 is annotated as gan3 (to arouse feelings or passions) in Tuan Zhuan (the commentary on the hexagram text) as below. In actuality is without xin (the heart), signifying it is an unintentional , i.e. telepathy. Therefore Xian covers both the meanings of telepathy and substantial influence in hexagram 31.

Xian forms after the top line of trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven), a pure masculine trigram, descends to the top position of trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth), a pure feminine trigram creating trigram Gen, the youngest son, and the top line of trigram Kun ascends to the top position of trigram Qian creating trigram Dui, the youngest daughter. After masculinity and femininity have intersected and Qi ( the invisible power circulating within the human body and Nature) is circling, each masculine and feminine line of trigram Gen and Dui at the correlation position start to communicate with each other. In this way the telepathy and influence are created.





The inner hexagram of Xian is Gou (44), to meet unexpectedly, which explains that Xian cannot be intentionally achieved. Its changing hexagram Sun (41), to diminish, advises people to lessen their desire.

The first volume of the I Ching begins with the masculine hexagram Qian and the feminine hexagram Kun which create humans and various personalities. The second volume starts with telepathy between male and female, followed by marriage, which builds the household, the society and the country.


Text: Xian (telepathy), (which will create) smooth progress; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist; it is auspicious to marry the female.

Commentary on the text: Xian, (signifying) arousing feelings or passions ()(The one of) tenderness ascends, while (the one of) rigidity descends; two Qis have telepathy (or influence) by which to communicate with each other (or to commit to each other)(The norm of hexagram Xian is) to stop (as the lower trigram Gen does with self-restraint) and then (the upper trigram Dui to express) joy; the male stays below the female (in a state of telepathy with her).  Therefore it will progress smoothly, and it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist, and it is auspicious to marry the female.  Heaven and earth have telepathy, and then all life arises.  The sage influences the hearts of people, and then the world becomes peaceful.  By observing that which creates telepathy (or influence), the sentiment of Heaven and earth as well as the whole of creation can be seen.

Text explanation:

Once Qi is activated, telepathy (or influence) exists between the masculine and feminine; things can start to move and will progress smoothly. It is advantageous to keep on interacting and it is auspicious to marry the woman with whom one shares telepathy.

Hexagram Xian is presented as trigram Gen, the youngest son, stays below while trigram Dui, the youngest daughter, stays above, like a male approaching a female. But trigram Gen stops before it reaches trigram Dui, and trigram Dui expresses joy. Though they live without physical interaction, each masculine and feminine line correlate with one another, by which telepathy occurs.

If further interaction occurs between two lines which have telepathy, the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63) (signifying a happy ending) after lines 1 and 4 exchange positions, or Heng (32) (the enduring relationship of a couple) after lines 2 and 5 exchange positions. Therefore it is auspicious to marry the woman with whom one shares telepathy.

Telepathy is not limited to male and female. The telepathy between Heaven and earth gives birth to all life. If people have telepathy with the sage and are influenced by him, the world will become peaceful. The interaction within the whole of creation can be understood by observing what the telepathy (or influence) is.

Commentary on the image: There exists a marsh on the mountain, Xian.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, accepts others humbly.

The mountain provides the marsh with an environment in which to form. In return, the marsh provides the mountain with various forms of life. A gentleman behaves like the mountain, lenient and humble in accepting others, i.e. by means of mental inspiration.


Telepathy (or influence) occurs after Qi starts circling, i.e. masculinity and femininity are communicating with each other. Things will progress smoothly after Qi is freely circling. It is advantageous to persist in maintaining telepathy (or influence), i.e. open communication. It is auspicious to marry the woman with whom one shares telepathy, signifying that it will bring good fortune once what is being developed materialises.

From hexagrams Qian and Kun, Xian inherits the virtues of smooth progress, advantage and persistence (expressed in the form of persistence bringing forth benefit), but excludes that of origination (i.e. creativity). Therefore, telepathy must be natural rather than artificial.

Its internal hexagram Gou (44), to meet (unexpectedly), suggests dissipation and adultery between male and female, which might explain the instinct or the latent crisis of telepathy. If all the lines of hexagram Xian are activated and change, the hexagram will become Sun (41), to diminish, which advises people to control emotion and desire.

Telepathy (or influence) is not limited to the male and female (in the form of love), it also exists between parents and children, colleagues who work together toward one goal, and friends who share each other's joys and sorrows.






In the hexagram text Xian is paraphrased as telepathy that occurs between male and female, which is consummated in marriage. Confucian commentary extends its connotation to substantial influence among people. The line demonstrates how it reacts in response to telepathy and influence.

One major feature of hexagram Xian is that every line has a correlation which creates the mental telepathy. The physical influence comes from the direct contact with its neighbouring line, which is regarded as foreign. Owing to the distance, a line is more easily affected by its neighbouring line than its correlate.




The line text makes use of different positions of the human body to describe the reaction to the innate telepathy and the foreign influence. Although no body part is specified for line 4, according to its text and location, it is at the heart's position.


The 1st line

Text: Xian (telepathy) (occurs) to the big toe.

Text explanation:

The bottom is the foot’s position and position 1 is the starting point of a hexagram; therefore line 1 is taken for the big toe. The toe always walks ahead of the body, symbolising that it is the most advancing part of the body, representing a kind of impulsiveness

 Line 1 engages in telepathy with line 4, the heart which is teeming with wishes, and eagerly intends to cater to the heart and realise all the wishes. However line 1 is less energetic (at the initial stage of a hexagram), and the toe must count on the leg to move but line 2, the shank, remains still (and with its life goal).

Commentary on the image: Xian (telepathy) (occurs) to the toe, (signifying) aspiration is (to develop) outward.

Line 4 in the external trigram is the one which line 1 is eager to approach. This signifies that line 1 intends to leave where it is in order to realise those wishes of the heart.

Enlightenment through six one: withhold one's impulse and wait for a better time. Telepathy occurs to the toe triggering one’s intent of striding forward to realise wishes. Although good or bad fortune is not mentioned, the hexagram that forms after this line is activated, changing to masculine and becoming active, is Ge (49), reform, where line 4 is the one to reform. On the other hand, the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63), task completed, once line 4 makes up its mind and takes action (i.e. exchanges positions) with line 1.


The 2nd line

Text: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the shank; (this is of) an ominous omen.  To remain steadfast is auspicious.

Text explanation:

The shank is the most active part of human body but it is driven by the thigh, signifying that it is very active but can’t act of its own accord; thus every outside influence might affect it causing it to become disorderly and blindly follow.

Line 2 correlates with line 5, the inactive muscles of the back, but also stays next to friendly line 3, the thigh. Obviously, it will be easily affected by line 3 and follow line 3, which is ominous. On the other hand, if it can moderately and righteously remain steadfast at the core position (of the lower trigram and those below) and the position right for it, and remain in correlation with line 5, the king, the situation will change from misfortune to good fortune.

Should line 2 move to position 3 in following line 3, the lower trigram would become Kan (the abyss, water) which is perilous, and the hexagram would become Kun4 (47), to be besieged. 




Commentary on the image: Although it is ominous, to remain steadfast is auspicious; (it will) not get hurt if (it can be) submissive.

If line 2 can remain steadfast in correlation with line 5, i.e. to be submissive to the telepathy of line 5, the king; it won’t be hurt since line 5 is moderate and righteous as well.

Enlightenment through six two: remain still and maintain the relation with line 5, the king. Both the remote telepathy (such as a long term goal) and the neighbouring influence (short term concerns) affect the active, but less self-governing shank, signifying that it will be easily affected by instant results, and blindly follow the wrong targets; this is ominous. One must remain steadfast, and remain as one ought, then it will change from misfortune to good fortune. Should this line change to masculine, disconnect correlation from line 5 and move with line 1, the hexagram would become Da Guo (28), large excess, where a ridgepole bends and threatens to break. Once telepathy with line 5 is realized by exchanging positions, the hexagram will become Heng (32), endurance, which is also signified as marriage.  


The 3rd line

Text: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the thigh and hip; (the subject ought) to hold on to that which it follows; to go forth will be resented.

Text explanation:

Line 3 is at the top of the lower trigram, i.e. the position of the thigh and hip. The thigh is the one that drives the shank while the hip remains still and connects with the upper body. Line 3 is the representative line of the lower trigram Gen, which stops or moves when required or appropriate, i.e. a kind of self-restraint. Line 3 has telepathy with line 6; however line 6 is merely a sweet talk, therefore it should remain unaffected. As line 3 occupies line 2, the shank, and the thigh drives the shank, it should move with the shank and away from line 6.

Should line 3 go forth to position 6, the hexagram would change back to Pi (12), stagnation and blockage, wherein there is no interplay between the masculine and feminine; therefore going forth instead of keeping a distance will lead to resentment.




Commentary on the image: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the thigh and hip, (signifying) not to remain motionless (even if the telepathy occurs).  Aspiration is to follow (other) people, (signifying) that which to hold on to is the one below.

By virtue of the masculine and feminine intersecting, lines 3 and 6 create hexagram Xian, as well as trigrams Gen and Dui. Therefore line 3 is designated to stay below with lines 2 and 1, so that two Qis can have telepathy and associate with each other.

Enlightenment through nine three: to be prudent in acting and selecting the right partner. Both innate telepathy and foreign influence occur to the thigh and hip; the thigh and hip are the most sensitive areas from the viewpoint of the male and female interacting, where rationality and sexual passion are struggling with each other. One shouldn't act rashly but retreat. If this line stays put instead by changing to feminine, it will be influenced by line 4 and join it in hexagram (45), to gather together. This will also plunge it into a difficult condition.


The 4th line

Text: To persist is auspicious (and) regret will be gone; (the subject is in a state of) back and forth, moving unstably; the fellows will follow your thoughts.

Text explanation:

Line 4 is at the heart's position; the heart in Chinese culture is signified as the place where all thoughts originate. The heart must know what to do, and then the rest of body has a direction to follow. If the heart becomes unstable, other parts of the body will grow uncertain.

Line 4 correlates with line 1, so it should persist in telepathy with line 1 and guide the toe in the right direction. Should it change to feminine, it would be affected by lines 3 and 5, and line 1 would lose the guidance. Also, the upper and the inner lower trigram would become Kan (the abyss, water), the heart, which would lead the upper and the lower body to act in different ways. Therefore to persist is auspicious, and the regret that the body will follow the toe in the wrong direction is gone.




In Xi Ci Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the text tagging), Confucius remarked, "What does the world think of and what is its concern? The world moves toward one destination via different routes, and one goal with different thoughts. What (else) does the world think of and what (else) is its concern? The sun goes and then the moon comes, the moon goes and then the sun comes; the sun and the moon push each other, by virtue of which light is created. Cold goes and then heat comes, heat goes and then cold comes; cold and heat push each other, by virtue of which a year is formed. The one leaving signifies retreat while the one coming signifies advance; that of which retreat and advance have telepathy is instrumental in creation (of day and night, as well as four seasons). The earthworm’s drawing back is for advance; the hibernation of the dragon and the snake is for continuing life the next year. With proficiency at its true significance, one can bring this into full play in one's life; this is that with which one lives and by which one enhances virtue. That which is beyond this has not yet been experienced but might be understandable; to endlessly seek (the rule of) god and understand all changes is the highest virtue."

Life in the world appears in different behaviours, but all aim to one goal. Human behaviour becomes disorderly when we are confused by too many thoughts and desires.

Commentary on the image: To persist is auspicious (and) the regret will be gone, (signifying) no intentional telepathy (i.e. no aspiration, or no fixed thought, or no firm mind) is harmful.  Back and forth moving unstably, (which is due to the norm of Xian) having not been manifested widely.

People must have a fixed aspiration; then the aspiration will guide them to realise what is intended. The disorderly acts are due to the fact that the norm of Xian has not been carried out accordingly, i.e. one can't maintain firm telepathy (or mind) but moves according to outside influences.

Enlightenment through nine four: to focus thought and correct action in accordance with the thought; on the other hand the thought needs the momentum of the toe to realise it. It is auspicious to persist in a fixed thought and act according to the thought; then regret (of disorderly or wrong action) will be gone. If the thought flies back and forth, the rest of body will follow it, which will cause disorder. Should this line change to feminine, the hexagram would become Jian3 (39), difficulty in proceeding.


The 5th line

Text: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the muscles of the back, (which causes) no regret.

Text explanation:

One at a high-ranking position should not be affected by others but righteously remain in the middle (impartial); as no fault is possible, there will be no regret. No regret usually follows after regret was gone at the preceding position, signifying that it has successfully undergone what occurred at position 4, wherein one's mind was made and action was correctly guided.

Line 5 is at the back's position, i.e. the opposite side of the heart and a place without passion. Line 6, the representative line of the upper trigram Dui (joy), rides on line 5. However its approach is like pleasing the inactive muscles of the back. Line 5 at the king’s position should remain neutral to all those around him, and impartially take care of people far (at the correlation position, line 2) and near (i.e. line 6) without preference. Although line 6 is friendly next to it and trying to please it, it turns its back on line 6.

Commentary on the image: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the muscles of the back, (signifying) the end of aspiration.

Line 6 is at the end of the hexagram and line 5 turns its back to it, signifying the pleasing of line 6 is the last priority of line 5.

Enlightenment through nine five: to disregard personal preference and act righteously, and moderately, i.e. impartially. Indulgence in being pleased will make a person ignore impartiality. Outside influence is applied to the inactive muscles of the back signifying that it won’t be affected. If one can maintain no preference and deal with tasks according to what is right, it won't cause regret. If this line is affected and changes to feminine, the hexagram will become Xiao Guo (62), a little excess, suggesting a little bit of over-compensation in order to be back to righteousness.


The 6th line

Text: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the jaw, the cheek and the tongue.

Text explanation:

The jaw, the cheek and the tongue are all the organs of speech. Telepathy should be done via the heart; the telepathy of the jaw, the cheek and the tongue means that there is no true telepathy, only talk.

Line 6 is the representative line of the upper trigram Dui, which signifies joy and denotes the mouth; therefore it is sweet talk. It correlates with line 3, but line 3 leaves with those below. Even though it rides over line 5 and intends to influence line 5 by pleasing talk, line 5 remains inactive. It can't elicit true telepathy, saying nothing of physical influence.

Commentary on the image: Xian (both telepathy and influence) (occur) to the jaw, the cheek and the tongue, (signifying one is) good at pleasing (others) by talk.

Enlightenment through six six: to approach others with evidence that what is said will come true. The mouth pleasing means that it is not heartfelt, lots of talk and nothing else. This won't be acknowledged by others. A person is all talk and no action. Therefore the hexagram will become Dun (33), to retreat, and he will run away when this line is activated and trigram Dui disappears, as what he said must now be realized.





 Xian is constituted by the upper trigram Dui which represents the youngest daughter and the mouth, and the lower trigram Gen, the youngest son and the hand. Therefore, it often refers to the telepathy between a young man and woman, and the telepathy between the mouth and the hand, i.e. teasing and flirting between male and female. Therefore as stated above, its internal hexagram Gou (44), to meet unexpectedly, signals a crisis of adultery; its changing hexagram Sun (41), to diminish, advises to lessen one’s desire.

From the viewpoint of the human body represented by each line, the lower trigram: line 1, the toe, represents impulse; line 2, the shank, signifies blind following; line 3, the thigh and hip, suggests the struggle between rationality and sexual passion as line 3 represents trigram Gen, self-restraint.

 Line 4 denotes infidelity like thought moving back and forth; line 5, the muscles of the back, are immune from flattery and line 6, the mouth, symbolizes teasing. If both lines 1 and 4 change (to staidness and fidelity, respectively), the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63), a happy ending. If both lines 2 and 5 change (to single-mindedness and passion, respectively), the hexagram will become Heng (32), i.e. the enduring relationship of a spouse. Provided that both lines 3 and 6 change, the hexagram will return to the original Pi (12), stagnation and blockage, which signifies no teasing and flirting, and no interplay between the masculine and feminine.