2 Kun 坤

2 Kun1

The lower: Kun1 (submissiveness, earth). The upper: Kun1 (submissiveness, earth).

Kun1: submissiveness and receptiveness, earth; the qualities of a follower and assistant.





Hexagram Kun1 is composed of two Kun1 trigrams. It is pure feminine Yin, which is the opposite of the masculine hexagram Qian2, yet they are symbiotic. Qian2 (perseverance, heaven) originates the world while Kun1 receives the world as earth sustains the heavens and accommodates the whole of Creation. Kun1 follows Qian2 in the sequence of 64 hexagrams stepping onto the stage of the I Ching, symbolising the primacy of Qian2 and the secondary nature of Kun1.

The image of trigram Kun1 is earth and its instinct is submissiveness and receptiveness. , the Chinese character for Kun1, means tu3 (earth) at the position of shen, the ninth branch of the twelve Earthly Branches which is 15:00 to 17:00 on a 24-hour clock, i.e. the southwest where trigram Kun1 is positioned in the Wen Wang diagram.

Kun1 is the changing hexagram of Qian2. According to Za Gua Zhuan (i.e. the commentary on the paired hexagrams), Qian2 is rigid, while Kun1 is soft. In addition to these features, Qian2 as the first hexagram leads, shows perseverance (i.e. strength and firmness), exhibits largeness (like the heavens) and roundness (like the heavens endlessly circling). Hexagram Kun1 acts in a supporting role, tenderly and submissively, and is signified as wideness (like the earth accommodating all creatures). It also exhibits a square shape, which is motionless like the earth we inhabit.

Hexagram Qian2 is characterised as a dragon which flies in the heavens of Qian2. Hexagram Kun1 is a mare, which gallops on earth and follows the stallion.


Text (of Zhou Yi): (origination) (smooth progress)(be advantageous or appropriate)牝馬(mare)(a preposition to mark preceding phrase as the possessive of)(fidelity)君子(gentleman)(have)(place)(go)(at first)(go astray)(later)(attain)(master)利西南(southeast)(attain)(friend)東北(northeast)(lose)朋。安(feel satisfied and remain steady with the situation)(persist)(be auspicious)

Kun1 (submissiveness and receptiveness, earth): Origination (i.e. a great and new start full of executive power), smooth progress, it is advantageous (or appropriate) to possess the fidelity (i.e. the persistence) of a mare.  A gentleman goes somewhere; he loses his way at first but later will attain (the recognition of) the master.  It is advantageous (or appropriate) to go southwest in attaining friendship, while going northeast leads to losing friends.  To contentedly persist in the norm of hexagram Kun1 is auspicious.

Commentary on the text (Tuan Zhuan): Kun1 (submissiveness and receptiveness, earth): The utmost of Kun1’s origination!  The whole of Creation relies on it for nurturance and growth, in this way it sustains the heavens.  Kun1’s sturdiness bears the load of all creatures, and its combined virtue (with Qian2) is unlimited.  It possesses all resources and brings them into full play, whereby all classes of substance attain smooth progress.  The mare acts as Kun1, galloping on earth without limit; tenderness and submissiveness are advantageous in its fidelity.  A gentleman goes somewhere.  He gets lost at first when he loses the norm of hexagram Kun1 (or, the course); but later after he becomes submissive like hexagram Kun1 following Qian2, he attains normality.  Friends will be made on a trip to the southwest, as it goes with those who are similar.  Friends will be lost in the northeast, but this will end in celebration when Qian2 appears as the desired goal.  The auspiciousness of contented persistence, which is due to its conforming without end to the norm of earth.

Text explanation:

Hexagram Kun1 is the start of femininity, a great and new start full of executive power. Like hexagram Qian2 (perseverance, heaven), its feminine lines appear one after another, advancing in a straightforward way to the top; therefore Kun1 is the smooth progress (of feminine). However the advantage or the appropriateness of Kun1 differs from the unconditional advantage of Qian2. The advantage or appropriateness of Kun1 comes from its submission to Qian2. Hence, Kun1 must submit to Qian2, like the mare tamely following the stallion; like the adherent loyally supporting the leader; and like the earth submissively sustaining the heavens.

Trigram Kun1 locates in the southwest; Kun1 will find friends, i.e. increased submissiveness, in going southwest. Trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) in the northeast is a masculine trigram (i.e. a trigram consisting of an odd number of line strokes). Although feminine Kun1 is designated to mate with the masculine in order to give birth to life, Kun1 will lose its submission to Qian2 if it goes northeast to Gen.  

Celebration is a joyous occasion for all concerned. A masculine line denotes brightness which is symbolic of happiness as there is no somber shade. Once the happiness of an individual extends to all others, it becomes a celebration. Qian2 is a convergence of masculine and here represents a celebration. This signifies that if Kun1 remains submissive to Qian2, there will be a celebration at the end of hexagram Kun1 with all lines starting to change to masculine (i.e. the desired goal of feminine). Qian2 and Kun1 mate; all creatures are given life. Hence, contentedly persisting in the norm of hexagram Kun1, i.e. submitting to Qian2, is auspicious.

Commentary on the image (Da Xiang Zhuan): Earth is shaped according to Kun1.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, accommodates all things with a breadth of virtue (which signifies receptiveness).


Hexagram Kun1 emphasizes submissiveness. It will become more submissive (but nothing else) if it joins with Kun1 in the southwest. And it will lose its submission to Qian2 if it goes northeast to Gen. To persist in following and submitting to Qian2 is auspicious as it will result in a joyous occasion celebrating (the birth of all creatures). Kun1 also highlights receptiveness, i.e. following the trend of the times with tenderness and accommodating everything with a breadth of virtue.

Hexagram Kun1 has the same virtues of origination and smooth progress as hexagram Qian2, but its appropriateness or advantage must come from its persistence in remaining submissive to Qian2.

Qian2 denotes a founder and leader. Kun1 follows it as the next step in the I Ching, designating its role as an adherent and assistant which must loyally support the founder and leader. When all the feminine lines of Kun1 start changing to masculine at the end of the hexagram, it signifies that Qian2 is the desired goal of Kun1.

Does hexagram Kun1 really conform to its norm and submit to Qian2 rather than Gen (which is a masculine trigram but consists of only one masculine line)? Yes or no? Along the sequence the feminine will be seeking masculine (momentum) in order to give birth in the next hexagram Zhun (3).




(The earth of) Kun1 is designated to sustain (the heavens of) Qian2 and submit to Qian2, as adherents and assistants must submissively follow founders and leaders. The lines of hexagram Kun1 follow this rule and present their different characteristics in three domains: earth, humanity and heaven, in sequence, until Kun1 reaches its final goal. Lines 1 and 2 in the earthly domain exhibit the feature and norm of Kun1. Lines 3 and 4 in the human domain perform their roles according to the norm of Kun1. Lines 5 and 6 reach the heavenly domain and their full development revealing different self-cultivation in relation to Qian2. When all the lines of Kun1 start changing to masculine, the changing Kun1 reaffirms that masculine is the desired goal of feminine.

The 1st line

Text: (tread or walk on)(frost)(solid, hard)(ice)(reach)

Once stepping onto the frosted ground, the hard ice is coming next.

Text explanation:

When a person first steps onto frosted ground, he is aware that according to the order of Nature cold weather is ahead. shun4 (submissiveness in Chinese) also signifies to move along a designated route. The text uses the natural law to illustrate that the submissiveness () of Kun1 is possible if it abides by its designated role until the end.

 The arrogant dragon (of hexagram Qian2) seeks more after having achieved success and won dominant position. This leads to regret. However it becomes auspicious when Qian2 is changing to Kun1. All the dragons possess the quality of submissiveness and live together in peace. Submissiveness is the course paved in front of hexagram Kun1.  

Commentary on the image (Xiao Xiang Zhuan): Line 1 is in a state of stepping onto the frosted ground and the hard ice is coming next, which signifies Yin (feminine, coldness) starting to freeze.  In moving submissively along its route, it will reach the hard ice.

Line 1 is the first of the six feminine lines in hexagram Kun1. If the first line yields to the submissiveness assigned to it, and deepens (like coldness), heartfelt submission (hard ice) will form at the end.

Enlightenment through six one (i.e. line 1 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): 1) there is definitely a cause for what has happened, and the outcome unfolds gradually from it, or 2) one should abide by what is assigned and be submissive in following the course; in the end one will achieve what is assigned. Line 1 must learn what submissiveness means and be submissive in following the course assigned to it; then it will be led to the end right for it. Should line 1 not abide by the advice and change to masculine, the hexagram would become Fu (24), return of masculine.

The 2nd line

Text: 不習无(nothing)(not)(advantage)

The subject is in a position to become straight, square, and large.  Not to review (i.e. not to focus on) what has been learned (不習) in hexagram Kun1 but follow Qian2 is nothing unfavourable.

Text explanation:

Hexagram Qian2 consists of six masculine lines which are straight and tend to move. Qian2 moves and Kun1 follows. Movement in two dimensions forms the square of earth, or Kun1. When Qian2 continues moving to the third dimension, the square expands and becomes large. The masculine is large and Qian2 signifies the largeness (of the heavens); this is what Kun1 needs to learn to enhance itself.

Kun1 is earth which stays below. Therefore line 2, the representative line of the lower trigram Kun1, is the representative line of the hexagram and exhibits Kun1's norm and what it means to be submissive in following. As line 2 already possesses the principle of moderation and righteousness, and all the other lines of Kun1 are feminine as well, it has no need to learn from them. What it needs to do is simply follow Qian2 in receiving what it creates; then it can become straight (i.e. to be righteous internally), square (i.e. to rectify behaviour externally) and large (in order to accommodate the whole of Creation).

Commentary on the image: The movement of line 2, which is to go straight with the square (i.e. earth, Kun1) Not to review (i.e. not to focus on) what has been learned (不習) in hexagram Kun1 but follow Qian2 is nothing unfavourable, as the norm of earth radiates.

xi2 of 不習 signifies to review what has been learned. bu4 (not) , not to review what has been learned, is paraphrased as “not to focus on what has been learned before but follow Qian2 in accordance with the submissiveness of Kun1”. 

Enlightenment through six two (i.e. line 2 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): 1) to learn everything from whom one is designated to follow, or 2) be submissively receptive in order to properly perform one's job. When this line is triggered to move, this signifies that in following and learning from someone to whom one is designated to submit, one can become capable of performing one's job. Nothing is unfavourable as one's natural endowments can be fully brought into play. After this line gets through with its assignment, the hexagram changes to Shi (7), troops, wherein it becomes a marshal who royally correlates with the king. This brings him no calamity but good fortune.

The 3rd line

Text: 含章可(permit)(persistence)(as if)(engage in)(king)(affair)(no)(achievement)(there be)(ending)

The subject in a state that possessing brilliance internally (含章) can properly persist with the norm of hexagram Kun1.  As if serving a king, it ought to seek no achievement for itself but perform its job with a good ending.

Text explanation:

Line 3 should act like a duke serving the king. This signifies that it has the talent but doesn't boast. It fulfills its duty, completes the job but does not seek merit. This is because all  achievement belongs to the king, Qian2. This is the code of conduct for hexagram Kun1.

Kun1 (i.e. earth) sustains and submits to Qian2 (i.e. the heavens) as if serving the king. Line 3 is at the position of a duke who has his own dukedom and functions like the king; this brings merit. Position 3 is a place of masculine, i.e. brightness. Therefore, feminine line 3 should conceal masculinity, i.e. be brilliant internally and maintain feminine Yin (i.e. darkness) externally.

What would occur if masculine appeared at position 3? The inner lower trigram would become Kan (the abyss, water) signifying peril, and line 3 would remain in the middle.


zhang1 of han2 (to hold in the month) originally meant a movement in a musical composition. To contain a movement instead of performing it implies that a person possesses talent but does not show it off.

Commentary on the image: Line 3 in a state that possessing brilliance internally can properly persist with the norm of hexagram Kun1, which signifies to carry out its talent in an opportune manner.  As if serving the king it is in a position of knowing how to bring its actions into full play.

Line 3 is at the position for marching upward from the lower trigram to the upper, as if entering a higher society; the text advises how to act in order to move forward and upward.

Enlightenment through six three (i.e. line 3 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): to conceal one's brilliance, act in an opportune manner and achieve what has been assigned, all without seeking merit. Possessing talent to achieve without self-aggrandizement must be done properly and persistently. This signifies that one must act in an opportune manner to accomplish one's task without seeking merit, as in serving the king. The hexagram that appears when this line acts accordingly is Qian1 (15), humility.


The 4th line

Text: (enclose, embrace)(bag)无咎(fault or calamity)无譽(praise)

The subject is in a state of hiding in a tied bag, which is of neither fault (nor calamity) nor praise.

Text explanation:

One must be discreet in word and deed, like hiding in a tied bag. This won’t bring praise but neither will it result in fault or calamity.

Line 4 arrives at the courtier’s position, a position full of fear as it is next to the king. Here Kun1 sustains and submits to Qian2 like a courtier serving the king, line 5. Position 4 is a place for resting after its line has expended all effort and reaches the upper trigram (i.e. a higher society). Line 4 is feminine and feminine tends to remain still; therefore it should prudently remain still at its post.

The inner upper trigram Kun1 can be taken for a bag as Kun1 is receptive. Once line 5 changes to masculine, i.e. the master of feminine, the bag is fastened by the inner upper trigram Gen, to stop (keeping still, the mountain). Then line 4 sustains line 5, like a courtier concealing his intent and acting submissively, according to the will of the king.


The upper trigram would become Kan (the abyss, water) if line 5 changed to masculine. Kan, represented by line 5, signifies peril which will cause calamity. Line 4 doesn’t in fact sustain line 5, signifying no praise. Neither does trigram Kan exist, i.e. no calamity or fault. Even so, it must always behave prudently, like hiding in a bag and preparing itself to serve the masculine.

Commentary on the image: Line 3 is in a state of hiding in a tied bag, which is of no fault (or calamity).  Prudence can prevent harm.

After having sought no merit at position 3, here one should pursue freedom from calamity. Freedom from calamity, or fault, is the basic and most important concern in the I Ching.

Enlightenment through six four (i.e. line 4 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): to conceal one's intent and act submissively in accordance with what is assigned. When what is done might easily get blamed, to behave prudently like tying a bag and hiding inside causes no praise and no fault (or calamity) either. Should this line change to masculine, the hexagram would appear as Yu (16), taking precaution against calamity, as it becomes a person staying next to the king and wining all people's support. 


The 5th line

Text: (yellow)(the lower garments, skirt)(great)

The subject is in a state of wearing a yellow skirt, which is of great auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Yellow is the colour of the centre (or the middle) where the principle of moderation is available. A skirt is for dressing the lower part of the body suggesting that it keeps a low profile. Kun1 reaches the domain of the heavens, i.e. the realm of Qian2, and the king’s position. However line 5 still behaves moderately and with a low profile, like a person occupying a high-ranking position but acting moderately and humbly according to the norm of hexagram Kun1. This is greatly auspicious.

Commentary on the image: A yellow skirt is greatly auspicious, which is due to those of culture in the middle () of the upper trigram (or within it).

Culture is a quality attained through self-cultivation and self-restraint and demonstrated through noble and decent behaviour. Line 5 possesses not only the norm of Kun1, but also the principle of moderation, which allows it to behave properly at its position.

zhong (the middle) also means within, inside, etc and refers to the principle of moderation (i.e. the Doctrine of the Mean) available at the middle position of a trigram.

Enlightenment through six five (i.e. line 5 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): to be humble at the core position in order to receive support from others. To occupy a high-ranking position with a low profile, i.e. in submission to Qian2 (heaven), the dominator, through the principle of moderation is greatly auspicious. The hexagram that forms when this line acts accordingly and changes to masculine is Bi3 (8), intimate interdepen-dence, where a competent king gathers all people around him.


The 6th line

Text: (battle)(dragon)(in)(the wild)(a word acts as the pronoun of a third person or its possessive case)(blood)(dark blue)

The subject is battling dragons in the wild; their blood is a blend of dark blue and yellow.

Text explanation:

Qian2 is heaven and the leader. The heavens are where the dragon of hexagram Qian2 soars to demonstrate its prestige and claim its sovereignty. Dark blue is the colour of the heavens, and yellow is the colour of earth.

Line 6 is approaching to the end of hexagram Kun1 and is losing the norm of hexagram Kun1, submissiveness. It reaches the top of the hexagram and proclaims itself the leader. It is in the heavenly domain and encounters Qian2. These two are in battle and bleeding; their blood blends together.

Commentary on the image: Line 6 is battling dragons in the wild, as it is destitute of the norm.

Enlightenment through six six (i.e. line 6 when it is cast as the old feminine (6) and starts changing to masculine): forsaking arrogance to avoid calamity. When this line starts changing to masculine, it signifies that the feminine is losing its norm and starts to fight the masculine. Should it change to masculine, the hexagram would become Bo (23), to peel off, where line 6 is the only masculine line remaining after all others have been overpowered, one after another, by the feminine lines. This is a potential outcome and must be prevented.


The changing Kun1 (as named in the Zhou Yi: using all lines in 6): Like hexagram Qian2, Kun1 also has this extra text. If all six lines are cast as the old feminine, it is known as the changing Kun1. All six lines now start changing to masculine and hexagram Qian2 emerges.

Text: 利永(forever)

It is advantageous (or appropriate) to everlastingly persist in the norm of hexagram Kun1.

Text explanation:

The appropriateness or advantage of hexagram Kun1 is seen in the persistence and steadfastness in its norm. Though all the lines start changing to masculine, the norm of hexagram Kun1 must remain unchanged.

Commentary on the image: The everlasting persistence of using six, which means to end in largeness (i.e. the masculine).

The masculine Qian2 is the desired goal of the feminine Kun1. This reaffirms that Kun1 is destined to submissively follow Qian2.

There are two different roles in the world: one is that of a leader and founder like Qian2, the other is the role of an adherent and assistant like Kun1. In this case, it is inevitable that people designated to be adherents or assistants must perform their role to the end.

Enlightenment: to always behave with the norm of hexagram Kun1. It is advantageous or appropriate to maintain the norm of hexagram Kun1 (i.e. submitting to Qian2) constantly to the end as Qian2 is the desired goal of Kun1.



The commentary on hexagram Kun1 (Wen Yan Zhuan)


Kun1 is extremely tender but it is able to act with rigidity like submissive earth persisting in sustaining the heavens.  It is extremely still but its virtue spreads worldwide like motionless earth nourishing all life.  It attains normality after it acts submissively behind the master (Qian2); it accommodates the whole of Creation and makes it brilliant.  The norm of Kun1 is submissiveness, to sustain the heavens (Qian2) and perform in an opportune manner.

A household that constantly practices charity will definitely experience many joyous occasions; a household that doesn't constantly practice charity will definitely face many calamities.  A courtier kills the king, or a son kills his father. This is not an event that happens in a single day and night, but definitely accrues from causes over a long period of time.  This is because it was not prevented timely in the early stages. Yi says: "Once stepping onto the frosted ground, the hard ice comes next."  This signifies submissiveness in following the course of Nature.

Kun1 cultivates itself to straighten in accordance with what is righteous and to square itself in accordance with what is appropriate.  A gentleman sincerely rights himself internally and rectifies his behaviour externally according to appropriateness.  With sincerity and appropriateness, his virtue won’t be his alone.  Straight, square, large; not to review what one has learned and nothing is unfavourable.  There won’t be any doubt about what must be done.

Although the feminine possesses good talent, it keeps it internally; thereby it serves the king and dares not seek achievement for itselfThis is the norm of earth, the norm of a wife, and the norm of a courtier.  The norm of earth is not to seek achievements for itself but to accomplish the mission assigned by heaven.

When heaven and earth vary with the seasons, grasses and trees flourish.  When variations between heaven and earth are blocked, the virtuous person becomes a recluse.  Yi says: 'A tied bag: neither fault (or calamity) nor praise.'  This signifies to be discreet in word and deed.

A gentleman possesses the principle of moderation and behaves reasonably, as well as righteously occupies a position at the core (i.e. the power centre).  This way the good talent is conceived internally, carried out through his body, and exhibited in his undertakings; this is the utmost virtue.

Once the feminine is suspected by the masculine, the masculine will definitely battle with it in order to quell it. Because of its discontent with the state of having no masculinity (i.e. no longer satisfied with being an assistant and intending to be the leader), it proclaims itself a dragon.  It is still feminine; therefore the engagement of the feminine and masculine is called blood.  Dark blue with yellow is the blend of the heavens and earth; the heavens are dark blue and the earth is yellow.