41 Sun3

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

Sun: loss, or to diminish (or to decrease); the conception of hexagram Sun is to diminish a surplus in order to augment what is in short supply, and to carry on in accordance with the actual status; its manner is to economise on what is available (out of consideration for those below); in an era of diminution, one should rein in one's anger and lessen one's desire.






Alleviation (Xie) will definitely cause certain losses; therefore Sun is granted. What is done in haste will lead to mistakes, whereas excessive alleviation (i.e. slackness) will result in missing the right time to attain full achievement. The meaning of Sun is to diminish or to decrease, and it suggests loss.

Hexagram Sun is formed after the masculine line 3 of hexagram Tai (11) ascends to position 6. It is a condition where the masculinity of the lower trigram decreases, while increasing that of the upper trigram. In other words, the one below (i.e. the lower or the one ruled) is diminished for the benefit of the one above (i.e. the one of higher status or the ruler). Hence hexagram Sun is also signified as loss as it is the reduction of what belongs to the people, and this diminution must be minimised.


The next hexagram Yi (42), (to diminish those above so as) to enrich (those below), is the reverse hexagram of Sun. The inner hexagram of Sun is Fu (24), to recover, wherein masculine returns to the bottom position and will gradually grow stronger. Its changing hexagram is Xie (31), telepathy, signifying that balancing the uneven masculinity and femininity can trigger an interaction between them, leading to the everlasting relationship of hexagram Heng (32).

After the drought was ended and the villain repelled in hexagram Xie (40), both the Court and the people were in need. How to economise on the resources below to enrich those above is the subject of hexagram Sun. 


Text: Sun (to diminish), (with) sincerity and trust, (which must be of) great auspicious-ness, (and then there will be) no calamity (or fault); (if) it can persist, it will be instrumental to go somewhere.  How can Sun be used?  Two cups of grain are used as the offering in a sacrificial ceremony.

Commentary on the text: Sun, (signifying) to diminish the one below and to enrich the one above; its course (or norm) is to go upward (like line 3 of hexagram 11 ascending to position 6).  Sun with sincerity and trust, (which must be of) great auspiciousness, (and then there will be) no calamity (or fault); (if) it can persist, it will be instrumental to go somewhere.  How can Sun be used?  Two cups of grain are used as the offering in a sacrificial ceremony.  Two cups of grain must be (offered) in well-timed manner (i.e. according to the ritual procedure); to diminish (the one of) rigidity and enrich (the one of) tenderness is (that which is carried out) in a well-timed manner (i.e. according to their status at each particular moment), (so) to diminish a surplus and augment a deficit take place in accord with time.

Text explanation:

The contour of hexagram Sun is similar to that of hexagram Zhong Fu (61), sincerity and trust radiating from the heart. Therefore the diminution of hexagram Sun is done in accordance with sincerity and trust, i.e. to diminish what can be diminished and according to what is planned. Owing to sincerity and trust, the diminution is limited to an acceptable and controllable extent, which is greatly auspicious; so there will be no calamity (or fault). If this can persist, it will be instrumental to undertake what is intended.

How to carry out diminution? It can be done like offering two cups of grain in the sacrificial ceremony, i.e. to simplify the ritual procedure by eliminating the unnecessary elements while keeping those that are essential. Sincerity and trust are to be desired when worshipping; offering a sacrifice is just a formality. Usually the number of cups offered at the ceremony can number up to eight; normally it is four cups, with two cups being the minimum. Two cups of grain is a diminution but doesn't affect the effectiveness of the sacrificial ceremony.

The original lower trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven), the one of rigidity, is expressly masculine, while the original upper trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth), the one of tenderness, is in need of masculinity. The lower trigram Qian diminishes its masculinity so as to enrich the upper trigram Kun, i.e. it reduces a surplus in order to augment a deficit, thereby regaining the correct status. Additionally, diminution must be done at the right time as over-abundance and scarcity will vary in their mutual reductions and gains. If diminution can be appropriately carried out, the norm of hexagram Sun will ascend along with the rising line 3 of the original lower trigram Qian.

Commentary on the image: The marsh at the foot of the mountain; Sun.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, restrains his anger and lessens his desire.

The lower trigram Dui is the marsh, and the upper trigram Gen is the mountain. To dig the mud out of the marsh at the foot of the mountain and put it on top of the mountain makes the marsh cleaner and the mountain higher; so must a gentleman reduce his character defects and increase his virtue.


The act of diminishing must be sincere and trustworthy, i.e. to sincerely evaluate what can be diminished (from below) and what can't, and to responsibly diminish according to plan. This is greatly auspicious and will be free from calamity or fault. The task must persist appropriately in the right way as this approach is instrumental to undertake what is intended. Additionally the reduction must be done in the spirit of offering two cups of grain in a sacrificial ceremony, i.e. with sincerity and trust (which is vital while worshiping) and in a simple and reduced way (to avoid alarming the people and causing their loss). The true diminution is to reduce a surplus in order to add to that which is in need, and to do it according to the changes between over-abundance and scarcity.

Hexagram Sun can be regarded as a circumstance that one should avoid, or minimize if it is unavoidable. Its changing hexagram is Xian (31), telepathy, which is non-physical contact. 

The virtues of hexagram Sun appear in the sequence of origination (expressed in the form of greatness), persistence, and advantage (expressed in the form of being instrumental) or appropriateness; this signifies that one must augment that which is diminished, and then preserve it; in this way what follows will be done appropriately.

Sun of hexagram 41 is signified as loss (of those below) and suggests thrift in the use of what one obtains. While diminution relates to self-cultivation, it is referred to as an act of restraining one’s anger and lessening one’s desire.






From the viewpoint of the hexagram's form, Sun is signified as loss as the lower trigram, i.e. those below, decreases its masculinity with a view to increasing that of the upper trigram, those above.

In addition to that, and from the perspective of viewing each individual line, hexagram Sun is also signified as: to decrease surplus masculinity and increase that lacking masculinity. Line 3 is the founding line and emphasizes balance. Therefore line 1 must evaluate its capability and the effectiveness of enrichment. Line 2 must do what is necessary according to norm of hexagram Sun and act with the principle of moderation. Line 4 will be happy if its defect, i.e. its lack of masculinity, is quickly relieved; such an expectation should not be faulted. However, the result must also be good for the one that enriches it.

Line 5, the king, deserves to be enriched and must value the enrichment which nominally comes from the shrine (i.e. worshiping his ancestors), but actually from those below, the people. Line 6 enriches those below instead of diminishing them; it is instrumental to undertake what is intended with the people's appreciation and support. 

Lines 1 and 4 express the attitudes of different positions, while lines 2 and 5 reveal the correct attitude with respect to the king and those below, respectively. Even in the time of those below diminishing themselves with a view to enriching those above, the masculinity of line 3 goes to the country, i.e. position 6 at the shrine's position.  


The 1st line

Text: (The subject ought) to complete the job (and then) to go forward quickly (已事遄往); (this is of) no calamity (or fault); (it is better) to weigh Sun (diminution).

Text explanation:

The original text of yi3 (to end) shi4 (an affair) chuan2 (quickly) wang3 (to go forward) signifies that after having accomplished the task of diminishing oneself and enriching those above, one should leave as soon as possible, i.e. not do it endlessly. Since one has evaluated one’s ability and performed effectively, no calamity or fault will befall.

Line 1 is masculine at the position of masculine; seemingly its masculinity is sufficient to enrich feminine line 4 at the feminine position. However line 1 in the initial phase is less energetic in performing its job, and the tender position of feminine occupied by line 4 can't maintain the enrichment; therefore it should avoid overdoing this. In the event that its masculinity moves to position 4, the upper trigram will become Kan (the abyss, water), peril; therefore it would be better to proceed further to position 5.




Commentary on the image: (Line 1 ought) to complete the job (and then) to go forward quickly, (signifying it) can still satisfy (its) aspiration.

After the masculinity of line 1 moves further to position 5 and becomes the masculine at a masculine and powerful position, it can enrich line 4 at the adjacent position and with greater efficacy, i.e. still complying with its original aspiration, but without hurting itself. The hexagram now appears as Huan (59), to disperse. Here things are scattering, but its line 5 reunites them.

Enlightenment through nine one: do what one must, without over-doing it. In the time of Sun, although one is obligated to diminish oneself to enrich others, one must be careful with what one possesses so as to not run short; one should also be responsive to prevailing conditions in order to attain the best result. Then there will be no fault or calamity. Should this line change to feminine, the hexagram would become Meng (4), ignorance, since it lost all its masculinity. 


The 2nd line

Text: It is appropriate (or advantageous) to persist; it is ominous to undertake a venture; (the subject ought) not Sun (to diminish) (for the sake of) enriching (the one above).

Text explanation:

Even if those below are designated to diminish themselves to enrich those above, and line 5, the correlate of line 2, is the king, it is appropriate (or advantageous) for line 2 to persist in doing what it can, but it is ominous to do it aggressively. According to the norm of Sun, what it is required is to carry out one's duty in a simple and reduced way, like offering two cups of grain in a sacrificial ceremony. One need not deliberately diminish oneself for the sake of enriching the one above.

Line 2 is masculine but at the tender position of feminine, signifying its masculinity isn't solid and firm enough; it is appropriate to persist in maintaining its masculinity and doing what it can (through correlation), instead of devoting itself completely to enriching line 5. Should its masculinity move to position 5 to enrich those above, line 2 would become feminine at the feminine position. That would completely decrease its masculinity and line 5 would become overly masculine; as a result, the hexagram would turn out to be Yi (42), wherein line 2 needs enrichment from those above. Therefore it is ominous.


In actuality, there already exists a masculine line 6 which comes from the original trigram Qian, those below, and is delegated to enrich those above; line 5 can be enriched by the masculinity shed by line 6 (see line 5).

Commentary on the image: It is appropriate (or advantageous) for line 2 to persist; (the principle of) moderation is set as aspiration.

The aspiration of the one below is to fulfil the mission following the principle of moderation (i.e. neither surplus nor deficit).

Enlightenment through nine two: do what one can, not necessarily what is nominally requested. It is appropriate (or advantageous) to persist in the norm of Sun with the principle of moderation, i.e. to do it according to the actual status; it is ominous to take aggressive action, i.e. to do more than is necessary. Even in the time of Sun, those below need not intentionally diminish themselves for the sake of enriching those above. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated becoming feminine (as if using up masculinity) is Yi2 (27), to nourish, wherein those below must seek nourishment from those above.


The 3rd line

Text: Three people journey together; as a result, their number Sun (decreases) by one.  One person journeys, which results in obtaining one's friends.

Text explanation:

Line 3 is the founding line by which hexagram Sun is formed. Originally the lower trigram was Qian, which consists of three masculine lines. After its top line left for the upper trigram Kun, it decreases by one. Line 6 is the one delegated to enrich those above and wins the support from the feminine below. In the meantime the lower trigram is created in the form of Dui and represented by line 3; Dui is symbolic of friendship as the waters of marshes supplement one another, like friends supplying what the others need.




Confucius’s remarks in the commentary on the text tagging (Xi Ci Zhuan): Heaven and earth interact with each other, by which the whole of creation comes into being; the male and the female mate so that all life is given birth, which signifies that they share the same goal. The masculine and the feminine of hexagram Tai (11) begin to associate, which engenders life and its continuance.

Commentary on the image: One person journeys; three will become doubtful.

Should all three lines of trigram Qian go upward together, the upper trigram would become Qian, all masculinity, while the lower trigram would become Kun, all feminine. The hexagram would change to Pi (12), blockage and stagnation, wherein no interplay exists between the masculine and feminine; therefore it is doubtful when diminution is done this way.

Enlightenment through six three: to seek a balance. Three people journey together and their number will decrease by one, signifying surplus is destined to be reduced. One person journeys, which will lead to making a friend, i.e. the minimal deserves to be enriched. Heaven and earth, masculine and feminine are all in twos; two between one and three is a number neither of surplus nor insufficiency; in fact decrease and increase are just for balancing. Should this line not abide by its mandate and change to masculine, the hexagram would become Da Chu (26), large storage and great restraint (of masculinity). This will lead to an over-abundance (of masculinity), Da Guo (28), through hexagram Yi2 (27), to nourish (by means of masculinity).


The 4th line

Text: (The subject needs) Sun (to diminish) its disease (or defect), to expedite this will make it happy; (this is of) no fault (or blame or calamity).

Text explanation:

To diminish one’s disease or defect signifies to enrich one’s health or essence. It is taken for granted that one will feel happy if one's disease or defect can be remedied quickly.

Line 4 is the feminine at the position of feminine, which is a kind of disease or defect, as it is excessively feminine; therefore it badly needs masculinity. However it is better for line 1 to enrich it from position 5, i.e. line 1 goes to position 4 and then moves to position 5, which is a comparatively long process. From the standpoint of line 4, it would be happy if this could be done quickly, which shouldn't be faulted.




Commentary on the image: Sun (to diminish) its disease (or defect), (which) also can be (a) happy (thing for the one who enriches others).

From the viewpoint of line 1, if it can enrich line 4 without hurting itself, this will be a happy event for it as well (also see line 1).

Enlightenment through six four: to seek a win-win solution. One in need of enrichment will feel happy if the enrichment can be done quickly; this should not be faulted. However if the task can be accomplished with benefit for both, the one who diminishes himself to enrich others will feel happy as well. Those above and below should undertake reconciliation for common interests or goals, as the hexagram will become Kui (38), alienation, after this line changes to masculine.


The 5th line

Text: As if to enrich (by endowing) one with a very valuable tortoise, (which one) cannot refuse, (and which is of) great auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Line 5 stays in the upper trigram at the king’s position. In an era of diminishing those below to enrich those above, it is entitled to be enriched. It is a feminine axle centre in a masculine place. Its essence is feminine, i.e. void or weak; therefore it is entitled to be enriched. Its position is masculine, i.e. solid and firm; therefore it can strongly preserve what it obtains. The tortoise is a sacred animal which cannot be refused and must be cherished.

In ancient China the tortoise shell was used for reading oracles. As a means of communicating with Heaven, it is sacred and highly valued.  A tortoise has a hard shell and tender flesh, similar to the image formed by lines 2 to 6. The upper trigram Gen looks like a hand and line 6, its representative, holds the tortoise, while line 5 sustains line 6. The inner upper trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth) is signified as receptiveness. Therefore, line 5 is receiving the tortoise handed to it from line 6.




Commentary on the image: Great auspiciousness of line 5, (which is due to) a blessing from the one above.

Line 6 is the one that originally came from trigram Qian of hexagram 11, i.e. those below enriching those above; therefore feminine line 5 is blessed by masculine line 6, the one above, signifying that line 5, the king, is right to accept the enrichment as it comes from the one above, i.e. the country (line 6 at the shrine's position). But line 5 must cherish it, as it comes as a result of the diminution of those below.

Enlightenment through six five: be humble in receiving and cherish what is given. One should receive enrichment with a devout attitude, as if receiving a valued tortoise which cannot be refused and must be cherished; it is a blessing nominally from the one above but actually from those below, and is greatly auspicious. The hexagram that forms after this line is enriched and changes to masculine is Zhong Fu (61), sincerity and trust radiating from the heart; its image expresses a humble and devout attitude.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject ought) not Sun (to diminish) (but) to enrich (those below), (which is of) no fault (or calamity); to persist is auspicious; it is instrumental in going somewhere; (the subject is entitled) to acquire subjects without the limits of boundaries.

Text explanation:

In the time of diminishing those below to enrich those above, one at the top is entitled to be enriched. However he, occupying the shine position and acting as a government, doesn’t diminish those below but enriches them. This will facilitate him carrying out his plans as he will receive support from all subordinates in every direction.

Masculine line 6 came originally from the lower trigram Qian to enrich the upper trigram Kun. It stays at the top. Instead of asking those below to diminish themselves, it enriches the feminine lines below; this won't cause any fault or calamity, and to persist is auspicious.

The inner upper trigram Kun represents the subjects; the three feminine lines from it cover the upper, lower, inner upper and inner lower trigrams, signifying that subjects exist every-where, i.e. without the limitation of boundaries. Line 6 enriches them instead of diminishing them; therefore he wins the hearts and support of subjects worldwide.



 Commentary on the image: (Line 6 ought) not Sun (to diminish) (but) to enrich (those below); aspiration will be largely achieved (and it will enjoy what is achieved).

Enlightenment through nine six: to enrich those below like a government taking care of its people. Do not diminish those below, but enrich them; there will be no calamity or fault even if this isn't in compliance with the designated task of hexagram Sun. To persist is auspicious, and it is instrumental in undertaking what is intended, as support will come widely from every corner. One’s aspirations will be fully realised and one will enjoy what is achieved. After this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram becomes Lin (19), (the one large or above) approaching (the one small or below), which is seen as the sovereign descending into the world.