44 Gou4 姤
The lower: Xun (to enter, the wind). The upper: Qian (perseverance, heaven).
Gou: to meet (unexpectedly) (a vigorous female, i.e. an encounter of seduction and danger)
After things break and burst (Guai), they will come to meet; therefore Gou is granted. Gou signifies to meet (unexpectedly). The original meaning of Gou is counterpart (偶ou3), such as one's image or spouse, signifying things that appear in pairs. In the I Ching it is annotated as the (unexpected) meeting of the masculine and feminine. Gou is the reverse hexagram of Guai (43), (the one of) rigidity getting rid of (the one of) tenderness (with determination but peacefully) (so) the norm of the gentleman begins to prevail while the norm of the villain diminishes. Gou means to meet (unexpectedly), which is signified as (the one of) tenderness coming to meet (the one of) rigidity.
The unsubdued feminine line of hexagram Guai comes (down to position 1) and meets the masculine lines at their backs signifying an unexpected meeting. One feminine line challenges five masculine lines exhibiting the vigour of the feminine, which signals that a crisis is emerging.
Everything under the sky moves when the winds blows; this unintentional and brief contact is regarded as an encounter in hexagram Gou. Therefore the relationship between the male and the female in Gou usually refers to an unconventional meeting, such as a one-night stand or an extramarital affair, i.e. an unexpected encounter with a female that will create a crisis.
Its inner hexagram is Qian (1), perseverance, signifying that the will of the feminine in conflict with the masculine is hard-hitting. Once the vigorous feminine is subdued and the crisis resolved, the hexagram changes to Fu (24), to return, wherein masculinity recovers.
Text: Gou (coming to meet), the female is vigorous; do not marry such a female.
Commentary on the text: Gou, (signifying) to meet (unexpectedly); (the one of) tenderness comes to meet (those of) rigidity. Do not marry such a female, as it is not possible to get along (with her) for any length of time. Heaven and earth come to meet; the whole of creation becomes brilliant (as all can exhibit their talents). (The one of) rigidity (i.e. line 5) comes to meet moderation and righteousness; the world starts to stride. In the time of Gou an appropriate action is momentous!
One feminine line stays below and approaches five masculine lines indicating that the feminine is vigorous. Feminine line 1 isn't at its right position, i.e. it doesn't act righteously, signifying the male will be bullied when the female becomes powerful. Therefore it isn't suitable to marry the female as the marriage won’t last.
Although conventional Chinese thought emphasises that the female must be submissive to the male and demonstrate the virtues of compliance and elegance, feminine power is equally important in nature. Life cannot be created without both of them. Therefore the feminine coming to meet the masculine is conducive to new life. If the masculine and feminine can co-operate like heaven and earth, i.e. Qian and Kun (the equal powers of the masculine and feminine), their contribution will be momentous.
Line 5, the host line of hexagram Guo, is the masculine axle centre at its right position, i.e. it acts moderately and righteously at the core position; this means that it is able to drive hexagram Guo to a vital and rich world, even though the feminine is vigorous.
Commentary on the image: Under the sky, the wind is blowing; Gou. The ancient (female) ruler (后), in accordance with this, promulgates (her) commands in all directions.
The wind blowing under the sky reaches everywhere; in accordance with this, the ancient female ruler issues her orders. 后hou4 can be annotated as either the ancient ruler or the queen. Here it should be regarded as a female ruler because line 1, the vigorous female, represents trigram Xun.
The female is vigorous; it is better not to marry her as she has a tendency to dominate the male. However from the perspective of giving birth, the more vigorous the female, the better the outcome; this signifies that an even match (of the masculine and feminine) can produce a fruitful result.
Hexagram Gou signals a crisis emerging and suggests immediate action to resolve the crisis. If the warning is ignored, the vigorous feminine will overpower the masculine lines, one by one, and the hexagram will become hexagram Bo (23). Only after that will the masculine start to recover in hexagram Fu (24). Fu is the changing hexagram of Gou.
Hexagram Gou possesses none of the four virtues, i.e. origination, smooth progress, advantage and persistence, signifying the wind of Gou leaves no marks.
According to the commentary on the image, in the time of Gou Woman's rights prevails and the female is in power. Hexagram Gou is also taken for an abnormal relationship between the male and the female, like adultery, and suggests making friends cautiously.
Line 1, the representative and the founding line of Guo, is a feminine line sneaking in and then approaching five masculine lines above, which becomes a kind of seduction as well as a crisis as this vigorous feminine will be growing up and overpowering the masculine, one by one. Thus the desire of the masculine line is to mate with line 1, while the duty of the masculine line is to subdue it in order to suppress the crisis.
Contrary to the annotation of Guo, coming to meet, the masculine lines are moving upward along the timeline and away from line 1. It is good from the viewpoint of leaving the seduction and crisis. However this will result in that the hexagram becomes Dun (33), wherein the gentleman has to retreat as the crisis isn't suppressed in time so that evil powers begin to prevail. That leads to Pi (12), blockage and stagnation.
The wind of line 1 comes and goes quickly, like a fleeting opportunity. As regards timing, line 2 is just in time; the opportunity of line 3 disappears through its feet; line 4 seemingly regains it but actually the opportunity is no longer there; line 5 bides its time; but time won't wait for line 6.
The 1st line
Text: (The subject is in a state of being) fastened to a gold stopper (柅), to persist is auspicious. (If it intends) to go somewhere, misfortune will appear. A lean pig very unstable is moving back and forth.
Line 1 is the female who is vigorous and not suited to marry. It is auspicious if she can maintain fidelity to the one to whom she is engaged. On the other hand it will lead to misfortune if she becomes unstable and difficult to control. Line 1 also signals a tendency of femininity to increase, i.e. an emerging crisis and the activated norm of the villain; it must be suppressed before it becomes too strong and overpowers the masculine lines above.
Feminine line 1 is occupied by masculine line 2, like being fastened to a gold stopper; it is auspicious for it to remain still at position 1, occupied by line 2. However position 1 is not a place right to it (i.e. it doesn't act righteously) and it correlates with line 4; therefore it is unstable and moves back and forth as if intending to mate with line 4. Should it move to position 4, this would become ominous since the inner upper trigram would become Li which denotes armour and weaponry, symbols of fighting. The hexagram, Xiao Chu (9), that appears signifies the small feminine serving the large masculine; however it suggests that the feminine is not dependable.
柅ni3 is a piece of wood put in front of a wheel to act as a stopper (brake). The upper trigram Qian denotes gold and the heavens are round, while the lower trigram Xun is wood, indicating the wood, beneath the gold wheel, acting as a stopper. Line 1 is fastened to the stopper by the rope of trigram Xun.
Trigram Kan (the abyss, water) denotes the pig; lines 1 and 2 comprise half Kan; therefore it is a lean pig. The lower trigram Xun moves back and forth like the wind. Usually pigs have difficulty in moving because of their size; but the lean pig can move freely and therefore becomes unstable.
Commentary on the image: (Line 1 is in a state of being) fastened to a gold stopper, (signifying) the norm of tenderness (i.e. feminine) is restrained.
Enlightenment through six one: 1) to curtail the crisis at the beginning, or 2) be patient as regards marriage; it is better to be safe than sorry. A crisis is emerging; it must be subdued before it gets out of control. The crisis is fastened to a gold stopper, signifying it is restrained and under control; to persist is auspicious. By going somewhere, i.e. the crisis continuing to grow and expand, misfortune will appear like a lean pig, very active and unstable. The hexagram forms after this line is converted into masculine is Qian (1), perseverance, which is composed wholly of masculine lines, i.e. the crisis disappears.
The 2nd line
Text: (The subject ought) to wrap fish, (which will result in) no calamity (or fault); it is not advantageous (or appropriate) to entertain the guest.
The shadowy feminine (line 1) is seen as a fish, as fish live in water without sunlight. Line 2 occupies line 1, signifying it is entitled to possess the fish and can control the crisis. It is inappropriate or disadvantageous to use the fish to entertain a guest, i.e. line 4. This signifies that one should not let the crisis expand externally as line 4 is in the external trigram, i.e. not a family member of the internal trigram. Should line 1 go externally to position 4, the inner upper trigram would become Li (clinging, fire), armour and weaponry which are symbols of fighting.
Commentary on the image: (Line 2 ought) to wrap fish, signifying it shouldn't be extended to the guest (i.e. the exterior).
Enlightenment through nine two: to stop the crisis from expanding. To wrap fish signifies containing and controlling the crisis, so that there will be no calamity; it is disadvantageous or inappropriate to let the crisis expand externally. One must take immediate action to suppress the crisis. Otherwise, should this line change to feminine, the trigram would become Dun (33), to retreat. Dun in Chinese depicts a small pig (i.e. the lean pig of line 1) running away. In hexagram Dun, the masculine, the norm of the gentleman, will be retreating.
The 3rd line
Text: (The subject is in a state of) the hip without flesh, (so) its walking is difficult; (this is of) sternness and cruelty, (but) no great calamity.
Line 3 has no access to line 1 but is at a position for marching upward; therefore its walking becomes difficult and slow, like the hip without flesh. It is unable to discharge its desire to mate with line 1 which causes it to suffer sternness and cruelty. However there will be no great calamity, as it is moving away from the crisis.
Line 3 at the top position of the lower trigram is akin to the hip of a human body. Flesh is tender, like the feminine, but line 3 is masculine and can't obtain femininity. Therefore, it is the hip without flesh.
Commentary on the image: Its walking is difficult, (but) walking is not restrained.
It will act freely if it can rid itself of the obsession with line 1, and will be free of the crisis if it avoids fighting (with lines 2 and 4) for the favours of line 1.
Enlightenment through nine three: 1) one can be upright if one is free of unwarranted desire, or 2) to keep a distance from trouble. The hip without flesh signifies that one has difficulty in walking but can still progress; although the situation is stern and cruel, there will be no great calamity as it is leaving the crisis. If this line changes to feminine, remaining still rather than marching upward, the hexagram will become Song (6), litigation due to conflict.
The 4th line
Text: (The subject is in a state of) wrapping no fish, (which) creates misfortune.
Line 4 correlates with line 1, but line 1 is firmly occupied and wrapped by line 2. It is entitled to mate with line 1, or to suppress the crisis, but it fails to do that; this causes misfortune.
Commentary on the image: The misfortune of no fish, (which is due to the fact of) being aloof from the people.
Line 4 fails to mate with line 1 due of the distance, like one above who can neither resolve crisis nor obtain the people's support because he remains aloof and fails to understand their suffering and wrath.
Enlightenment through nine four: be close to the subject. Wrapping no fish signifies that one fails to win favour, or that the crisis is beyond one's control due to a lack of direct contact, which is the cause of the misfortune. When this line changes to feminine as if femininity expands to outside (see line 2), the hexagram becomes Xun (57), to penetrate like the wind. Here the feminine is going to seize the dominant power from masculine line 5.
The 5th line
Text: (The subject ought) to wrap the melon with medlar (leaves), (and) to contain brilliance inside; it will fall down from the sky.
Line 5, the host line, is masculine and at the core position (which is right to it), signifying it possesses the dominant power (as well as righteousness and the principle of moderation). It is able to subdue the crisis and the vigorous female as stated in the commentary on the hexagram text: (The masculine) heaven and (the feminine) earth come to meet; the whole of creation becomes brilliant. However for the moment it has no access to line 1; therefore it climbs on the medlar tree, covering itself with medlar leaves (i.e. containing its brilliance) and waiting for the right time. Once the melon is ripe, it will fall to the ground, i.e. position 1.
The lower trigram Xun is wood, i.e. the medlar tree, while the upper trigram Qian is the fruit on the tree. Line 5 in the sky (domain) is the melon wrapped by the medlar leaves, like a person righteously and moderately cultivating himself and biding his time; he will be rewarded when his day comes. Medlar is a nutrient that can prolong life.
Commentary on the image: Line 5 contains brilliance inside (含章), (which is the principle of) moderation and righteousness. It will fall down from the sky; aspiration doesn't deviate from fate (i.e. the ordinance of Heaven).
章zhang1 of 含han2章 (to contain brilliance inside) originally signified a movement in a musical composition. To treasure a movement instead of performing it, like the melon containing its brilliance inside, implies that a person possesses talent but isn't yet ready to perform.
The wish of line 5 is to mate with, and to subdue, line 1; however there is no practical access to line 1, signifying that it is unable to realize its aspiration for the time being. However, when the melon is ripe, it will fall to the ground, i.e. the position of line 1 which is the earthly domain. Its aspiration is in accordance with what heaven ordains, and this is a matter of time.
Enlightenment through nine five: 1) to cultivate oneself and bide one's time, or 2) to prepare for the crisis beforehand and strike at the right time. Wrapping the melon with medlar leaves signifies to contain brilliance inside while waiting for the right time. If this line is activated accordingly, the cauldron of hexagram Ding (50) will be cast when feminine appears here, signifying a new regime is established after reform (49), and the melon will reappear as the upper trigram becomes Li (brightness). This signifies that one's day comes.
The 6th line
Text: (The subject is in a state of) Gou (coming to meet) the horn, (which is of) resentment, (but) no calamity.
Line 6 reaches the top of the hexagram, like entering the end of a horn, where it remains apart from line 1; therefore it can neither mate with line 1 nor suppress the crisis. This can cause resentment if it still wants to do something, as lost time can never be found again. On the other hand, if it can disengage from its previous fixation and keep a distance from line 1 (the female unsuitable for marriage and the emerging crisis), it will be free from calamity or fault.
The horn is seen as the highest point (of an animal) or the dead end. It is also referred to the sexual desire as a ram will engage in horn wrestling with the other for access to a nanny goat.
Commentary on the image: (Line 6 is in a state of) Gou (coming to meet) the horn, (signifying) the one above is destitute (of opportunity or solution) and is resentful.
Line 6 at the top of hexagram Gou can neither move ahead nor step down. This is due a lack of timely action at the beginning resulting in no solution in the end.
Enlightenment through nine six: let time heal. It is in dire straits because it missed the window to solve the crisis, or the opportunity to mate with the female; this is resented. However, as long as it can extricate itself, and keep a distance from trouble, there will be no calamity. The hexagram becomes Da Guo (28), a bending ridgepole which is due to excessive masculinity and in bad need of balance with feminine, when this line is activated and feminine appears. Along the sequence, hexagram Gou will move to Cui (45), to gather together, where the feminine will gather around the masculine.
From the viewpoint of marriage or adultery with a vigorous female, the line texts can be paraphrased as follows.
Line 1 is fastened to a gold stopper. The stopper can be taken for the brake, i.e. the control device of a weaving machine. The text means that the female should be bound to her assigned duties, responsibilities and virtue; to persist (or be faithful) is auspicious. Failure to comply with what is proper, or if her fidelity wavers, would result in misfortune. This highlights the importance of female virtue, especially fidelity.
包 of 包bao (to wrap up) 有yu3 (to have) 魚yu2 (fish), to wrap fish, is also paraphrased as 庖 pao2 (the kitchen). Fish in the kitchen at position 2 signals that there will be a wedding party or a candle-lit dinner; however it is not advantageous for a male to marry into the female's household or to be the lover. Remarks: the guest in the text can be taken for a son-in-law who lives in the house of the bride's parents, or the boyfriend of a married woman.
The hip without flesh and difficulty in walking at position 3 expresses the stern and cruel state that a male encounters after marriage or adultery at position 2.
No fish in the kitchen at position 4 signifies no wedding party. Usually the relationship of correlation (between lines 4 and 1) stands for a formal marriage; however the adultery already exists between lines 1 and 2.
The melon of line 5 can be referred to as a gourd; a dried gourd is cut in half and used as a drinking cup for the young couple at the wedding party. The gourd creeps on the medlar tree; its colour changes from green to yellow, and then it falls to the ground when ripe. This signifies that a cultivated gentleman will be rewarded with a heaven-sent marriage when the right time comes. From the viewpoint of adultery, to surround the melon with the medlar tree and to contain brilliance inside can be taken for keeping a mistress in a splendid abode.
The horn of line 6 can imply the horn of a male goat wrestling for access to the female. When hexagram Gou reaches its upper extremity, it will become dissipated which will cause fighting and injury. However, if the male goat can realise that it has no access to line 1 and retreat, this will end up without calamity, despite being resentful.