3 Zhun1 屯
The lower: Zhen (to move, thunder). The upper: Kan (the abyss, water).
Zhun: difficult to initiate; the mission of hexagram Zhun is to store up momentum and make a breakthrough.
After formation of heavens and earth (Qian2 and Kun1), the whole of Creation comes into being. The world between the heavens and earth teems with the potential of life; therefore Zhun is granted. Zhun is that which will overcome all difficulties in populating the world with all creatures. It is newborn life.
The above is quoted from Xu Gua Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the sequence of 64 hexagrams). 屯zhun depicts the difficulty of grass (屮) sprouting from the ground (一). It is the first hexagram created by Qian2 and Kun1; therefore it starts to sprout. However its lower trigram, Zhen (to move, thunder, and the dominator of life), booms under the water and struggles beneath peril, the upper trigram Kan, indicating that life has formed in the ocean but encounters peril while emerging from the water (to reach the ground). Thus Zhun is signified as difficulty in initiating.
Hexagram Zhun is the moment when the world starts to form but is still obscure and disordered. All life is on the brink of Creation, the air is rife with origination, but the birthing is arduous.
屯also means to stockpile but is pronounced tun2. Therefore, in addition to the difficult initiation, the newly sprouting grass must accumulate energy, to make a breakthrough and grow high.
The inner hexagram of Zhun is Bo (23), to peel off (the masculine), signifying that it can’t build sufficient masculine momentum internally. Its changing hexagram is Ding (50), to innovate. This indicates that after it makes a breakthrough, a new world or regime will be formed.
Text: 屯：元亨，利貞。勿(not)用(act, use)有(there be)攸(place)往(go)，利(be advantageous or appropriate)建(establish)侯(ducal state)。
Zhun (difficult to initiate): It entails great and smooth progress (元亨); it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist (利貞). Do not take action in going somewhere; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to establish a ducal state.
Commentary on the text: Zhun (difficult to initiate): Rigidity (hexagram Qian2) and tenderness (hexagram Kun1) have just mated but it is difficult to give birth to new life. While moving in peril, great and smooth progress entails persistence in the norm of Zhun. Thunder and rain repeat and pervade the newly created world, which is still disordered and obscure; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to establish a ducal state with no laxity.
The virtues of hexagram Zhun are represented by the same characters as those of hexagrams Qian2 and Kun1 (元yuan2, 亨heng1, 利li4, 貞zhen1: origination, smooth progress, advantage or appropriateness, and persistence). However the virtues of hexagrams Qian2 (heaven) and Kun1 (earth) create and nourish the whole of Creation, while the virtues of Zhun are generated by Qian2 and Kun1, i.e. the virtue of creatures. Therefore they are expressed in the form of 元 (also signified as greatness) 亨 which means great and smooth progress, and 利貞 which means it is advantageous or appropriate to persist.
Hexagrams Qian2 and Kun1 mate and give birth to hexagram Zhun. The lower trigram Zhen signifies to move, while the upper trigram Kan is peril. To move while facing peril signals that there will be myriad difficulties if one intends to act under such circumstances. Therefore it is not the right time to carry out what is planned when the world is still in turmoil. Rather it is a time to consolidate all available resources and reinforce one’s foundation, i.e. to establish a ducal state and prepare for great achievements in the future.
In the time of hexagram Zhun (difficult to initiate), one should persist in attaining one’s goal (i.e. to make a breakthrough and become prosperous) by enduring all difficulties and enhancing one’s ability. Persistence will lead to great and smooth progress.
Commentary on the image: The cloud and thunder, which comprise the image of Zhun. A gentleman, in accordance with this, shall establish (by arranging in order all resources and forming them into) a network.
Water above thunder is a cloud; clouds gather and thunder booms; a thunderstorm is forming but has yet to rain. A gentleman realizes the difficulty of initiation, such as launching a new undertaking. So he exerts himself, shows great fortitude, makes use of all available resources and channels them into one joint force.
Hexagram Zhun symbolizes the difficulty of forming rain. If thunder moves on top of water, it will become hexagram Xie, to alleviate (40) which depicts thundering above and raining below. This signifies that a drought is alleviated and a crisis resolved.
Though Zhun inherits all four virtues from Qian2 and Kun1 and converts them into great and smooth progress, and persistence bringing forth benefit, they are still young shoots.
Difficulty in initiating requires enhancing oneself in order to make a breakthrough. This is the course to great and smooth progress, so it is advantageous to persist. Do not carry out in haste what is planned; at this phase it is advantageous to enhance and prepare oneself by building a healthy and solid foundation for the future endeavor. The changing hexagram is Ding (50), to innovate, signifying an entirely new world after it succeeds in making a breakthrough.
Hexagram Zhun often refers to the creative spirit required for establishing new undertakings. Even though they are difficult to initiate, one must enhance oneself and firmly commit to making a breakthrough.
According to the sequence, Zhun is generated after hexagrams Qian2 and Kun1 mate. However in hexagram 2, Kun1 didn't follow Qian2 but went northeast to trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) which is a masculine trigram with only of one masculine line. Therefore, hexagram Zhun is difficult to birth.
In the time of Zhun, the line must persist in attaining its goal (of being born) through reinforcing or collecting the momentum (of masculine); it must engage itself in breakthrough according to its ability and in an opportune manner.
Like the mare of hexagram Kun1 submissively following the stallion in order to mate with the masculine, feminine lines 2, 4 and 6 of Zhun ride on horses seeking the momentum (of masculine) to be born. The two masculine lines are the master lines; they offer momentum as masculine tends to move. Line 1, the representative line, builds foundation for the forthcoming mission. Line 5 at the king’s position, the host line, makes the best use of limited resources and takes the most effectual measures to accomplish the mission. Their relationships with lines 2, 4 and 6 are indicated as follows, respectively. The correlation between the feminine and masculine is signified as marriage (see hexagram 53) which results in new life. The feminine rides over the masculine (marked with an x below) signifying that it oppresses the masculine and distorts the momentum.
Line 2 keeps to the commitment of marriage and makes a breakthrough eventually. Line 3, marching from the lower trigram to trigram Kan above without a guide, will get trapped in peril. Line 4 seeks an alliance in sustaining line 5 and forming joint force. Line 6 reaches the end; it will perish if it fails to be born.
The 1st line
Text: 磐桓，利居(live at, i.e. remain constantly at one place)貞，利建侯。
The subject is in a state of hovering (磐桓); it is advantageous (or appropriate) to remain steadfast and persist; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to establish a ducal state.
In the time of hexagram Zhun (difficult to initiate), there is significant peril and difficulty in going forth. At the early stage it is appropriate or advantageous to remain steadily where one is, and enhance oneself to become the bedrock for the assigned mission..
Line 1 is masculine which tends to move, and it also represents the lower trigram Zhen, to move. Therefore it is very active and intends to move forward. However position 4 which it will land through correlation is in the peril of the upper trigram Kan. Peril is ahead and line 1 is less energetic as hexagram Zhun has just formed. This results in line 1 hovering between its own position and position 4. The representative line of the upper trigram Kan also represents the inner upper trigram Gen, stop; this signifies to stay away form peril. Therefore it should remain steadily in the place appropriate to it, i.e. a place of masculine.
The inner lower trigram Kun1 (submissiveness, earth) denotes people and the land, i.e. a state, while the inner upper trigram Gen looks like a door. Line 1, the representative line of the lower trigram Zhen, drives the state indoors as if engaging in its interior affairs, to establish a ducal state.
Zhou originally had its dukedom at Bin (豳). Due to the constant harassment from northern tribes, Duke Ku-kung Tan-fu (古公亶父) led his clan to the plains at the foot of Mount Qi (岐山) which was closer to the central plains, i.e. the most civilised area in ancient China. They cultivated the desolate land and built a new capital. From that point on, they left the nomadic life behind and gradually established a prosperous and strong dukedom.
磐pan2 is a large rock which can be used as a base for a house. 桓huan2 is a wood pillar. However, 磐桓 is commonly annotated as 'to linger or hover' when they appear together.
While line 1 is moving upward, it also urges the feminine lines above to leave hexagram Zhun. It enhances itself and cooperates with line 4 to assist 5 in accomplishing the mission of Zhun (see lines 4 and 5). All its actions are fundamental to making a breakthrough.
Commentary on the image: Though line 1 is hovering, its aspiration is to carry out righteousness (正). While possessing prestige but descending humbly to a lower position, one can obtain tremendous support from the people.
Although line 1 is hovering back and forth, its moving forward is to seek a breakthrough; moving back is to enhance itself. 正zheng4 (righteousness) here refers to the norm of hexagram Zhun. A line can act righteously in accordance what it is assigned when it stays at its right position.
Line 1 is masculine; in contrast to the feminine, the masculine represents prestige. It stays at the lower position, humbly below the feminine lines. It also represents the lower trigram Zhen, to move, which drives the inner lower trigram Kun1, submissiveness and the people. This signifies that the people support it and move in the same direction (leaving hexagram Zhun).
Enlightenment throughnine one: to enhance oneself for the upcoming mission. Like one's ambition moving back and forth as difficulties lie ahead, one intends to act but with less ability, so it is advantageous to persist in maintaining the status quo. As strong support from others is possible, it is advantageous to prepare oneself by building a healthy and solid foundation for the future mission. The hexagram that appears when this line changes to feminine and then remains still is Bi2 (8), intimate interdependence, where a leader is advised to be benevolent and consistent in righteousness to gather people, and a freshman is advised to build credit so as to establish the intimate and interdependent relationship.
The 2nd line
Text: 屯如邅(difficult to process)如，乘馬班如。匪(not)寇(bandit)婚媾(marriage)。女子(female)貞(chaste)不(not)字，十年(ten years)乃(only then)字。
The subject is in a state of Zhun (being difficult to initiate) and difficult to progress which appear one after another (as what 如 does); it rides a horse but the horse stops moving as if encountering a herd of horses gathering side-by-side (乘馬班如). It is not a robbery but a wedding parade. The female is chaste and not pregnant (字); after ten years she gets pregnant.
It is a formal marriage, regardless of the girl’s wish; she will get pregnant after ten years. Marriage and pregnancy (i.e. both initiation and progress) encounter difficulty, like riding a horse to move forward but encountering a barrier of many horses in front. In the time of hexagram Zhun, people should maintain determination and fortitude because making a breakthrough requires commitment and must be achieved; that way the mission will eventually be accomplished. Ten represents one complete unit; ten years here means at last.
Trigram Kan is a horse with a beautiful spine. Line 2 correlates with line 5, the representative line of the upper trigram Kan, signifying that line 2 can ride on it. However line 2 encounters interruption from feminine lines 3 and 4 crowding in front, eager to move forward and leave hexagram Zhun. Because of this, line 2 has difficulty progressing. 班ban1 depicts jade 玉yu4 being cut into two pieces; it can also mean a group of similar objects. 班 of 乘cheng2 馬 ma3 (riding a horse) 班如ru2 (as if) means a herd of horses, side by side, which appears to be a robbery, but is actually a wedding parade.
Although line 5, which is in correlation with line 2, proposes marriage, line 1 is friendly next to line 2 and easily affects it. This leads to the misunderstanding that line 5 is a bandit (as the image of the upper trigram Kan which line 5 represents is a bandit) and creates difficulty in initiating.
The inner lower trigram Kun1 denotes a belly, the site of conception, while the inner upper trigram Gen signifies stop. Pregnancy is forbidden at the moment. Feminine line 2, the girl, must disregard the influence of line 1 and maintain chastity in correlation with line 5. As long as it can abide in the marriage (i.e. keep its commitment) with fortitude, it will overcome all difficulties to move forward and become pregnant (i.e. progressed) after passing through position 5..
The feminine mating with the masculine by means of correlation is regarded as a formal marriage (see hexagram 53, Jian). The robbery and the wedding parade are both mentioned. Apparently, in the time of Zhou Yi one tribe would attack another and capture young women; thus, robbery here is taken for a forced marriage.
如ru2 (like, if) means the status is like that which is described when it is at the end of a sentence or behind an adjective and acts as an auxiliary word. If it requires being literalised, it can be interpreted as“ as if” as all sights said in the text are images. 字zi4 depicts a son (子) under the roof (宀) and is seen here as pregnancy.
Commentary on the image: The difficulty of line 2, which is due to its riding on rigidity. After ten years the female gets pregnant, which signifies that she returns to normality.
Line 2 is the feminine riding on rigid masculine line 1; it is a scene of the feminine oppressing the masculine. This signifies that line 2 will abuse the momentum ofmasculine if it counts on line 1. This is because line 1 is behind it and will guide it in the opposite direction, i.e. further difficulty in initiating.
Line 2 should move forward along the timeline seeking momentum and a breakthrough, despite difficulty in progressing. All difficulties will be overcome and the mission will be achieved eventually, like the girl becoming pregnant. Moving forward ten steps past position 5 of hexagram Zhun, it will arrive at position 5 of the next hexagram Meng (4). Here the ignorant child defers to the teacher in order to be educated.
Enlightenment throughsix two: to remain committed and do the best to accomplish one's mission. One encounters difficulties in initiating and progressing as there are many barriers ahead. Regardless of whether one has willed it or not, one must commit to it. It requires determination and fortitude; combined with time, that can bring success. Endurance is the winner. Even if the hexagram becomes Jie (60), to restrict, after this line changes to masculine and loses access to line 5, it is advised to act according to what is permitted and at the right time.
The 3rd line
Text: 即(come near to)鹿(deer)无(no)虞(forester)，惟(alone)入(enter)于林中(wood middle)。君子(gentleman)幾(contemplate)不如(not better than)舍(give up)，往(go forward)吝。
The subject is in a state of chasing (即) a deer with no guide, and entering the forest. A gentleman evaluates the situation and realises that he had better give up, as going forward will be resented (吝).
A hunter is running after his prey; he enters a forest but has no guide. The forest is dim, obscure, full of uncertainty; he should carefully consider the situation. The outcome is clear and depends on whether or not he is willing to accept the situation and give up.
Line 3 stays at the position for marching upward but has no masculine correlate in front. It is moving without a guide (or momentum). Since the feminine tends to remain still, it should remain at position 3. Otherwise it will be led to calamity as the upper trigram Kan in front is peril.
即ji2 depicts卩(a man sits) 皀 (food ware) and originally meant to come near to eat. It is extendedly to mean to approach or be near, or immediately, etc.
Commentary on the image: Line 3 is in a state of chasing a deer with no guide; it is indulging in the hunt and is being led by the animal. A gentleman should give up; going forward will be resented and plunge one into plight.
If line 3 indulges in hunting, an illusory image (of the prey in the forest of the upper trigram Dui, wood) might appear in the form of masculine line 6. Should line 3 pursue it and exchange positions with line 6, it would ride on the upper trigram Kan, peril, as signified below. The hexagram seemingly becomes Ji Ji (63), completion, but is actually still Zhun.
Enlightenment through six three: to enhance oneself and bide one's time. The future is unknown, hard to control and without a guide. This is risky, so one should consider all the unfavourable factors. It is better to give up since continuing forward will cause resentment. Resentment (吝lin4) means that if a correction is not made timely when there is a fault, then the situation will lead to calamity.One day when this line changes to masculine, acting with full momentum and a guide in front, the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63), completion.
The 4th line
Text: 乘馬班如，求(beseech, request)婚媾，往(go forward)吉，无(nothing)不(not)利(advantage)。
The subject is in a state of riding a horse but the horse stops moving as if encountering a herd of horses gathering side-by-side; it ought to propose marriage; to go forward is auspicious, and nothing is unfavourable.
In the time of hexagram Zhun (difficult to initiate), one should seek alliances (i.e. consolidate all available resources) and support the major force to make a breakthrough; this is auspicious.
Line 4 correlates with line 1, the representative line of the lower trigram Zhen, which is a horse raising its front legs and neighing. In this way line 4 rides on the horse of line 1; but there are two feminine lines, 2 and 3, gathering in front and blocking its forward motion.
Nevertheless line 4 should propose marriage (or an alliance) to line 1 as it is masculine which creates momentum. If the masculinity of line 1 can be obtained, line 4 will be able to go forward and sustain line 5, the king and the host line of hexagram Zhun. This is auspicious with nothing unfavourable.
Commentary on the image: Line 4 ought to propose marriage and then go forward, which shows cleverness.
Line 4 needs masculine momentum to be born but masculine line 5 which could lead it to leave hexagram Zhun is engaged to line 2 and only possibly lifts line 2 up. Therefore it is clever to get masculine reinforcement (from line 1) and go forward to sustain line 5 in accomplishing the mission of hexagram Zhun.
Enlightenment through six four: Unity is strength. When all are suffering difficulty, one must ally with others to support the major force to make a breakthrough. It is auspicious to achieve a mission through concerted effort and there is nothing unfavourable. Auspiciousness is a type of good luck and will facilitate the achievement of what is intended. Nothing unfavourable signifies that everything will be of benefit afterward. Should this line not abide by the advice but change to masculine, the hexagram would become Sui (17), to follow, wherein line 4 will be led to misfortune if it doesn't follow a righteous course to attain achievement.
The 5th line
The subject is in a state of Zhun (difficulty in initiating with) or Tun (storing up) its fat (屯其膏). To persist on a small scale is auspicious; to persist on a large scale is ominous.
屯zhun or tun2 其gi2 (its)膏gao (fat) can be annotated as: difficulty in initiating with its fat, or storing up its fat. Fat forms when there is enough food to eat, and it can be used to support the body through lean times.
In the time of hexagram Zhun all are facing difficulties (in initiating). The one above should not burden those below to undertake what is intended, or carry it out on a large scale.
Masculine line 5 at the king’s position is in correlation with line 2 and sustained by line 4. This seems that it can make use of both supports; however lines 2 and 4 are feminine and lack momentum themselves. Therefore it should only count on line 4, which has support from masculine line 1. This way it can reinforce its strength without weakening the other.
On the other hand, when all are eager to leave Zhun but face difficulties, the one above must not give in to grandiosity but rather act according to the situation in an effective way. The upper trigram Kan which makes initiating difficult will vanish when line 5 lifts line 2 by exchanging positions with it. Should line 5 also exchange positions with line 4, the upper trigram Kan would disappear, but would re-appear as the inner upper trigram. This means that it is only auspicious to lift line 2 (on a small scale) but not line 4 as well (on a larger scale).
As line 5 is at the middle position (of the upper trigram, where the principle of moderation is available), it must be able to perform moderately.
Commentary on the image: Line 5 is in a state of Zhun (difficulty initiating with) or Tun (storing up) its fat, as what it engages in does not radiate yet.
Line 5, the host line of Zhun, reaches the peak of the hexagram and should exert all strength for a breakthrough. However its masculine momentum isn't sufficient to support it in its task. In light of that, it should join forces with line 1 (through line 4) and assist line 2 in moving forward. That way it can achieve the mission of hexagram Zhun.
Enlightenment through nine five: to reinforce oneself gradually according to limited resources, and to achieve what is intended according to one's ability. Collecting resources from others to build up strength and make a breakthrough must be done on a small scale; then it will be auspicious. Acting on a large scale will be ominous. If this line follows the advice changing to feminine and then acts in a conservative way, the hexagram will become Fu (24), return of masculinity, where masculine returns and will be growing strong, step by step, with more masculine joining it.
The 6th line
Text: 乘馬班如，泣(weep)血(blood)漣(flowing water)如。
The subject is in a state of riding a horse as if getting stuck in a herd of horses gathering side-by-side (none of which can move); it is crying with bloody tears as if they never stop.
It reaches the end but also the upper extremity of hexagram Zhun (difficult to initiate). It is in a state of readiness to leave Zhun but receives no masculine support. At the most critical and difficult moment it lacks momentum, so it is deeply saddened.
The upper trigram Kan is a horse with a beautiful spine. Feminine line 6 rides on its representative line, masculine line 5. Feminine is designated to follow masculine to mate. Line 6 here rides over masculine line 5, signifying it oppresses it. Although masculine tends to move and creates momentum, line 5 stops as the inner upper trigram Gen (stop) represented by it and won't provide momentum.
Alternatively itseeks a masculine correlate (for marriage, which leads to the birth of new life). But the masculine correlate exists only fictitiously here in the imaginary inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire). Li denotes the eyes, while the upper trigram Kan is water and a blood trigram, signifying tears of blood. Line 6 looks for the imaginary masculine (line 3), which makes it cry without end, with bloody tears.
Commentary on the image: Line 6 is in a state of crying with bloody tears ceaselessly. How can it last long?
Zhun has missed all opportunities for initiation along its path and reaches the end; it won’t last very long unless a quick breakthrough is made. It must seek a way to be birthed, or it will perish.
Enlightenment through six six: Making a change can lead to a breakthrough.Staying at the extremity of difficulty and the end of initiation is sorrowful; one will perish if one can't make a breakthrough. It's clear that a change must be made as the hexagram after this line changes to masculine is Yi1 (42), to enrich (by means of increasing one's masculinity).