56 Lu3

The lower: Gen (keeping still, the mountain). The upper: Li (clinging, fire).

Lu: to journey; to develop outwardly and in adversity






Ceaseless enlargement (Feng, like its line 6) will result in no room to accommodate (it); therefore (it starts to wander and) Lu is granted. Lu signifies to travel, which refers to a long journey beyond one's homeland. In ancient times, due to the difficulty and discomfort of travel, people were inclined to stay home; for this reason travel was seen as a grave undertaking. Lu is the reverse hexagram of Feng. Feng has many old friends as it is in a grand and abundant state, while Lu signifies a lack of relatives, as it travels abroad, away from home.

The lower trigram Gen is a mountain and the upper trigram Li is fire; fire is spreading over the mountain, place after place, like people travelling. The mountain is the journey, up and down, while fire is the traveller.

The inner hexagram of Lu is Da Guo (28), a bending ridgepole. Due to the internal tension, it must develop outwardly. Its changing hexagram is Jie (60), to restrict, signifying that one must behave oneself while travelling abroad. Conversely, one embarks on a journey in reaction to bitter restriction.


Text: Lu (the journey), (which offers) somewhat smooth progress (or, the small one will progress smoothly) (小亨); it is auspicious to persist during Lu.

Commentary on the text: Lu (the journey), (which offers) somewhat smooth progress (or, the small one will progress smoothly); (Lu exhibits its norm in the form that the one of) tenderness attains the core position (or the principle of moderation) and stays externally, (as well as) submits to (those of) rigidity, stops (like the lower trigram Gen) and then clings to brightness (of the upper trigram Li). Therefore it is somewhat smooth progress (or, the small one will progress smoothly), (and) it is auspicious to persist during Lu.  In the time of Lu an appropriate action is momentous.

Text explanation:

To travel abroad not only entails difficulty, it also ensures that one is no longer besieged; therefore hexagram Lu represents somewhat (jiao3) smooth progress (heng). However one must persist in the norm of the traveller for it to be auspicious.

Line 5, the host line of Lu, was originally line 3 of hexagram Pi. It goes from the internal trigram to the external trigram and occupies position 5 of hexagram Lu, becoming the feminine axle centre and staying in a place of masculine as well as being surrounded by the masculine (lines 4 and 6), which means that the tender one with the principle of moderation travels externally and submits meekly to adversity (amidst the masculine rigidity). Therefore the small one (jiao3), or the one with the low profile, can progress smoothly (heng). The lower trigram Gen is signified as to stop, while the upper trigram Li is clinging and brightness, which suggests clinging to brightness (i.e. civilisation) whenever it stops. A traveller must persist in the norm of Lu for it to be auspicious.




In ancient times people preferred staying home to travelling abroad. However at times talented and able people had to travel among the ducal states to find virtuous dukes who would employ them when they could not realise their ideals at home. Therefore, an appropriate action according to the norm of Lu is momentous when travelling, for whatever reason, can't be avoided.

Commentary on the image: On the mountain, there is fire; Lu.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, must be clear-minded and cautious when imposing punishment, (and) not draw out a lawsuit.

Fire on the mountain is easily seen, and it travels quickly from one area to another. A gentleman realise that he is being watched by others; he thoroughly investigates a legal case, before promptly and judiciously imposing punishment.


Hexagram Lu refers to a journey in adversity; therefore only somewhat smooth progress is possible. The traveller must maintain a low profile in order to progress smoothly and must persist in the norm of the traveller; that way, it will be auspicious.

Lu possesses the virtues of smooth progress and persistence. Therefore maintaining the norm of the traveller is the criterion determining smooth progress. This means that one must be tender and act moderately, as well as submit meekly to adversity. One should also stay near civilisation, i.e. far away from the beacon fire of war. Smoke from beacon fires on a hill warns that the enemy is approaching and that war is imminent.

Journeying is a state of unbalance and uncertainty as a person is far from home and predictable routines. A person unable to occupy a position suited to him and work according to plan signifies that he is in a state of losing power and the opportunity to achieve what is intended, hexagram Lu reflects this. Its changing hexagram is Jie (60), to restrict, signifying that the journey can end with appropriate self-restraint.






On the journey of hexagram Lu, there exists a great deal of difficulty and peril. The traveller must act tenderly (keep a low profile and adapt himself to unfavourable surroundings), He must also act moderately (neither too meekly nor too aggressively) and stay in a place of greater ease (not masculine rigidity).

The journey fluctuates dramatically. The traveller loses everything at the end of the lower trigram, then becomes arrogant and deviates from the norm when he reaches his destination with great achievements attained at position 5. As a result he loses everything again. From that point on no one hears of him as he enters hexagram Xun (57) to retrieve humility and submission, like its feminine line prostrating itself beneath the masculine. 


The 1st line

Text: Lu (the journey) (starts but the subject is in a state) of lowliness and dwelling upon trivial things (瑣瑣); this is what incurs calamity.

Text explanation:

Travelling with low status and a nit-picking character will result in calamity, as lowly status will incur aggression, and nit-picking will provoke others.

Line 1 is feminine and at the bottom of the hexagram; therefore it is lowly and busies itself with trivial things. Feminine tends to remain still and position 1 is a phase of reduced energy; therefore line 1 isn't suited to taking a long journey. It correlates with line 4. Should it move to the external trigram and exchange positions with line 4, the inner lower trigram would become Kan (the abyss, water), peril, which signifies that calamity will arise on the journey.




Commentary on the image: Lu (the journey) (starts but line 1 is in a state) of lowliness and dwelling on trivial things, which is calamitous due to a lack of aspiration.

suo3 is the sound created by jade items rubbing together; its extended meaning is jade cuttings which commonly refer to trivial things. 瑣瑣 here refers to a lowly and grumbling person who busies himself with trivial things. Therefore he lacks the vision to establish his aspirations. As a result, he will wander throughout his life like a traveller without a destination.

Trigram Kan is also signified as aspiration (with risks); a person won't go far and develop if his aspirations are too limited, i.e. if they prevent him from venturing forth and reaping the rewards (at position 5).

Enlightenment through six one: 1) to act with a goal in mind, or 2) to qualify oneself for the assigned mission. Focusing on trivia and minor aspirations results in failure when undertaking a journey. Or, the traveller’s nit-picking and complaining character will result in calamity. While this line is activated, changing to masculine and acting righteously, the hexagram appears in the form of Li (30), clinging, suggesting 1) like fire needing wood to cling, people must have aspirations, and like a journey aiming to its destination, they must run after their aspirations, and 2) nourishing tenderness thereby strengthening clinging.


The 2nd line

Text: Lu (the journey) arrives at an inn (), (and the subject is in a state that) it possesses money (for the journey), (and) obtains the loyalty of a young servant.

Text explanation:

On the journey the traveller arrives at an inn and has money; more important he hires a young servant who loyally serves him.

Position 2 is a place for feminine; therefore feminine line 2 lodges at an inn. The inner lower trigram Xun signifies profit earned at a rate three times higher than market value, i.e. a fortune. The lower trigram Gen is the youngest son, while the inner lower trigram Xun presents a feminine line prostrated beneath two masculine lines, which exhibits the loyalty of a young servant.


Line 2 is a tender feminine, acting righteously and possessing the principle of moderation; therefore it obtains the loyalty of the young servant.

Commentary on the image: (Line 2 is in a state of) obtaining the loyalty of a young servant; (there is) no discontent in the end.

The traveller has all the conveniences needed for a journey, including a loyal servant. He is content with what he has achieved. Apart from a comfortable journey to the final destination, travelling without calamity is what a traveller should always seek. However none of the lines in hexagram Lu are free from calamity.

Enlightenment through six two: 1) acting righteously and moderately provides favourable circumstances, and 2) value what has been obtained. On the journey, the traveller arrives at an inn, has money and hires a loyal servant, signifying that he attains preliminary success. The journey might be hard but he feels no discontent. If this line is activated, the hexagram will become Ding (50), a cooking cauldron, suggesting that food will be served as well. Ding is also used to recruit and nourish virtuous and able people, signifying that he should treat his servant properly.


The 3rd line

Text: Lu (the journey) (encounters flames of war that) burn down its inn, (and the subject is in a state of) losing the loyalty of its young servant, (which is of) cruelty and sternness.

Text explanation:

The inn where the traveller stays burns down. All his belongings turn to ash, and the young servant leaves him as well. He is now a vagrant.

Masculine line 3 is not tender and exceeds moderation (i.e. the middle of the lower trigram); it arrives at a place of masculine rigidity, and it falls helplessly into adversity.

Commentary on the image: Lu (the journey) (encounters flames of war that) burn down its inn.  This hurts (line 3) as well.  (Due to) treating the one below in the way of Lu (i.e. treating the young servant as a passing traveller), that which is appropriate is lost.

Enlightenment through nine three: to resign oneself to adversity and regroup for what is to come. The traveller now has no place to stay and no money. Making matters worse, his servant has left him. The traveller suffers a setback on his journey, which is stern and cruel. If this line changes to feminine and acts tenderly, the hexagram will become Jin (35), to advance toward brightness, i.e. civilisation, as suggested by the commentary on the hexagram text. Hexagram Jin also demonstrates the norms of the king and subjects through loyalty and contribution as well as recognition and bestowal.


The 4th line

Text: Lu (the journey) is at a place for an extended stay (), (the subject is in a state that) it obtains a sharp axe (or a beneficial axe); my heart is unhappy.

Text explanation:

The inn burned down at position 3; the traveller now has no money and lives without a servant. He finds a place where he can settle temporarily. He is in an uncertain state; even though he obtains a useful tool, i.e. he has been vested with power, or has been financed, he is not truly happy in the situation.

chu4 signifies a place, or to be located, while ci4 of line 3 means to stop advancing. They both suggest a temporary stay but (chu4) is a place where it remains longer since to “stop advancing” doesn't mean it won't continue on in a changed direction. But being “located at” signifies that it is essentially fixed, especially when closer to the destination.

Position 4 is a place for resting (after the line has marched up from the lower trigram) but line 4 is masculine, i.e. it tends to move, and position 4 is not the right place for it. Therefore it feels uncertain and unhappy.

The upper trigram Li denotes weaponry which can be taken for a sharp axe. The inner lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind, wood) here refers to bushes, while the inner upper trigram Dui (joy, the marsh) is signified as to destroy. These indicate that the traveller obtains a sharp axe to cut the bushes around his encampment to make it more hospitable.



Although the inner upper trigram is Dui (joy, the marsh), there is no trigram Kan, the heart. Comfort without heart is not true happiness.



In ancient China, copper coins were the major currency, with some being in the shape of an axe. Receiving an axe-shaped coin can mean that one obtains financial support.

Commentary on the image: Lu (the journey) is at a place for an extended stay, (but) is not at an appropriate position (to it)(Line 4) obtains a sharp axe (or, a beneficial axe), (but) the heart is not happy.

Masculine line 4 stays in the place of feminine; even if the traveller can do what he likes, this is only a temporary place for him. The axe is sharp but one’s emotions are dull.

Enlightenment through nine four: be content with what one has attained and bide one's time for the next move. The traveller arrives at a place for an extended stay but it is not suited to him, so he is in an uncertain state. Even though he has power and is well financed, he is not truly happy (as this is not his ultimate destination, nor have his aspirations been realized.). The hexagram that forms after this line is activated and changes to tender feminine is Gen (52), to keep still, which suggests stopping or moving when required. Gen is also a hexagram of cultivating self in order to attain a peaceful mind, and its commentary on the image suggests that a gentleman mustn't allow his thoughts to stray beyond his position (or status).


The 5th line

Text: (The subject is capable of) shooting down a pheasant with one arrow; (the journey should be planned) to end up with praise and a (high) charge.

Text explanation:

Shooting down a pheasant with only one arrow is a marvellous skill, which when recognized results in the reward of a good reputation, and employment. Line 5 is a feminine axle centre in a rigid place, signifying it is tender and moderate, and attains achievement under difficult circumstances.

The upper trigram Li denotes the pheasant and the arrow, signifying that it shoots and takes down the pleasant with one arrow.


The arrow is shot and the pheasant is down, which changes line 5 to masculine and provides a correlation with line 2. Position 2 is a place of good reputation and where the order of the inner lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) is located. This signifies that it will attain both a good reputation and a government post in an accommodating way.




Commentary on the image: To end up with praise and a (high) charge, (signifying that) (line 5) has reached the climax.

Ending up with praise and a reward signifies that one should feel content with one's achievements and halt ambition when the journey has reached its climax, i.e. the peak of hexagram Lu, especially when the hexagram changes to Dun (33), to retreat.

Enlightenment through six five: quit while you're ahead. When the journey reaches its climax, the traveller’s talent is recognised and he is rewarded accordingly. The hexagram that appears when this line is activated and changes to tough masculine is Dun (33), to retreat, which is wise and safe as there will be no room for it at the next position.


The 6th line

Text: The bird burns its nest; the traveller laughs first, then cries later.  (The subject is in a state of) losing cattle in Yi () (i.e. in changes or easiness), (which is of) an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

Line 6 reaches the end of hexagram Lu, i.e. the destination. It becomes proud of what it has achieved and laughs out loud, so that it loses the submissive character (like that of cattle) required for the traveller. Position 6 is a tender place of feminine; however line 6 is masculine. A person gets used to travelling abroad, forgets it is not his homeland and gets dizzy with success. Sorrow follows hard on the heels of extreme joy (of the inner upper trigram Dun); he finds his house has burned down (i.e. no room for him) and bursts out crying.

The inner lower Xun, wood, is a tree, while the upper trigram Li is fire and the pheasant; fire on top of a tree burns the bird’s nest.



If line 6 could change to feminine (i.e. one with a tender character), it would descend to position 3 as suggested by hexagram Xiao Guo (62). Then the hexagram would become Jin, to advance (35), while the lower trigram would become Kun (submissiveness, earth, the cattle), signifying line 3 would regain submissiveness and advance again.



Commentary on the image: Lu (the journey) stays on top, that which is appropriate burns up (like trigram Li)(Line 6 is in a state of) losing cattle in Yi (), (and) not being heard of until the end.

The traveller reaches his destination and becomes arrogant. His submissiveness is lost, and he starts to wander. From that moment on no one hears of him again.

yi4 literally means easiness and is also signified as change (between the masculine and feminine). Submissiveness can be easily lost due to the related changes from hard journey to easy life (i.e. from the rigid masculine to the tender feminine).

Enlightenment through nine six: don't be too proud of what has been achieved, rather act submissively. The nest burns so the bird has no place to rest. The traveller reaches his destination becoming arrogant, and loses his submissiveness. Sorrow will follow joy. This is ominous. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated and changes to tender feminine is Xiao Guo (62), a little excess, which suggests that people should keep a low profile, like the fledging bird flying low to avoid being hurt while making a mistake.  





The original text of line 6, sang4 (to lose) niu2 (cattle) yu2 (in) yi4 (Yi), probably reflects what Wong Hai (王亥) experienced. He was the ancestor of Shang Tang (商湯 the founder of the Shang dynasty). As a trader, he travelled by ox cart among the tribes and engaged in livestock husbandry when he lived with the You Yi (有易) tribe. He demonstrated talent in archery and as a result obtained a good reputation and was revered, like line 5. However, due to his licentiousness, he was later killed by the chieftain of You Yi and all his oxen were forfeited.

Regarding the young servant mentioned in the text of lines 2 and 3, it is believed that business travellers like Wong Hai always had armed guards with them for protection. Some believe those business travellers would also attack small tribes and take the youths as slaves, either to use themselves or trade.

The commentary on the image of hexagram Lu suggests that a gentleman must be clear-minded and cautious when imposing punishment; he must show respect during trials and not draw out lawsuits.

Three other hexagrams relating to jurisdiction are:

Shi He (21), Biting Through, where the late king framed penalties with clear definitions and promulgated them refers to the attitude relating to legislation.

Bi4 (22), To Grace, suggests that a gentleman must administer public affairs with a clear mind, and not decide lawsuits vaguely. This refers to the attitude of making judgments.

Feng (55), A Grand and Abundant State, suggests that a gentleman must decide lawsuits and apportion punishment with exactness, which is the attitude of declaring a sentence.