16 Yu4

The lower: Kun (submissiveness, earth). The upper: Zhen (to move, thunder).

Yu: comfort and pleasure, or to submit from deep admiration, or to take precautions against calamity.






Possessing largeness (Da You) with humility (Qian1) is definitely Yu; therefore Yu is granted. Yu () originally meant a giant elephant which refers to things that are large but harmless. Therefore Yu of hexagram 16 is signified as: comfort and pleasure (as feeling content leads to feeling happy); submission due to deep admiration (as the power is strong but harmless); and foresight and precautionary action (because what one is dealing with is large). Yu is the reverse hexagram of Qian which signifies humility, i.e. to lighten (self-importance). Yu of hexagram 16 stands for laziness, i.e. idling time, as people become less active in their duties while indulging in comfort and pleasure.

Trigram Zhen stays above and is signified as to move, while trigram Kun below is submissive. The one above moves in front in a loud and exciting way; the one below is cheered and submissive in following its movement. This indicates an inspiring and joyous tempo.

Thunder booms above the earth. It arouses the world and inspires people. Line 4, the representative line of hexagram Yu and the upper trigram Zhen, creates enthusiasm in people (the lower trigram Kun) and is heartily sustained by them. It is entitled to undertake a great mission.

The inner hexagram of Yu is Jian3 (39), difficulty in proceeding; this insight into difficulties results in precautionary measures. Its changing hexagram is Xiao Chu (9), little storage or restraint. Once one has taken precautionary measures and feels at ease, little else needs to be done when dealing with the large, especially when exhibiting submissiveness through heartfelt admiration.


Text: Yu (to submit from deep admiration); it is instrumental in establishing a ducal state, and dispatching troops.

Commentary on the text: Yu (to submit from deep admiration); (the one of) rigidity (i.e. line 4) gets a response and thus aspiration can be carried out; (the lower trigram Kun is) submissive in following the movement (of the upper trigram Zhen), (which is the norm of) Yu.  Yu moves by virtue of submissiveness; so do the heavens and earth (act) like this, to say nothing of establishing a ducal state, and dispatching troops!  The heavens and earth perform in accordance with submissiveness (of Kun following Qian); hence, sun and moon won’t rise and set in a disorderly way, and the four seasons won’t circulate in the wrong sequence.  The sage behaves in accordance with submissiveness (of Nature); thus, the penal code is suspended but the people are (still) obedient.  In the time of Yu an appropriate action is momentous.

Text explanation:

From the perspective of the lower and upper trigrams, hexagram Yu presents the one below (i.e. the lower trigram Kun) submissively following the movement of the one above (i.e. the upper trigram Zhen). On the whole, the movement of hexagram Yu (expressed by the upper trigram Zhen) is based on the submissiveness (of the lower trigram Kun).    

The upper trigram Zhen is the eldest son who inherits, and carries out, the unfulfilled will of his ancestors. The lower trigram Kun denotes people. When a leader gains popular support, people will submissively follow him. Masculine line 4 is the representative line of hexagram Yu, the upper trigram Zhen, and the inner upper trigram Kan (the abyss, water, aspiration). This shows that his aspiration is sustained by all the people of the lower trigram Kun and can be carried out with their support. Therefore it is instrumental in establishing a ducal state (or a new undertaking) and aggressively carrying it through with hard measures, as if dispatching troops.



However from a Confucian perspective, the inner upper trigram Kan represented by line 4 also denotes rules, i.e. the penal code (enacted by a leader), as water acts as a level indicator. Trigram Kun is designated to submit to trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven) and follow Qian as earth sustains and submits to the heavens. In this way the sun and moon and four seasons operate in the proper way. In view of this, a sage will carry out his aspirations submissively according to the mandate of Heaven (or the wishes of the people, see line 6 of hexagram 14, Da You); thus the people will obey him even in the absence of a penal code.

The representative line of Yu, line 4, isn't at position 5, the king's position. This differs from the representative line of hexagram Bi (8), (to build) intimate and interdependent relationships. Therefore Yu of hexagram 16 is also signified as foresight and precautionary measures against a latent crisis (due to lacking legitimacy).

For this reason, it is crucial to take appropriate action when one is in the time of Yu.

Commentary on the image: Thunder is booming and the earth is being inspired; Yu.  The late king, in accordance with this, composed music to revere virtue (and performed it while) paying lavish tribute to Heaven and offering a sacrifice to his ancestors.

The image of earth echoing with thunder illustrates how music and sacrificial ceremonies are used to please those who are respected.


Those below deeply admire and submissively follow those above suggesting the availability of tremendous support. Therefore it is instrumental in establishing a ducal state and dispatching troops, i.e. initiating an undertaking and taking aggressive action. Commentary on the text suggests doing that which submits to the mandate of Heaven and catering to the wishes of the people to win admiration and support.

Yu possesses only the virtue of benefit (expressed in the form of being instrumental), i.e. what it exclusively aims for. Therefore foresight and precautionary measures are needed to avoid a crisis (i.e. hiding different intentions behind the semblance of accord). In fact, hexagram Yu is constituted by the inner upper trigram Kan, the bandit, and the inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) which represents a door. According to Xi Ci Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the text tagging), Yu defends itself against the bandit by using multiple doors and night guards.

Yu of hexagram 16 also signifies comfort and pleasure, a pleasant life. Its commentary on the image suggests that this should be carried out only in the right manner.

In contrast to its reverse hexagram Qian1 (15), humility, Yu is a hexagram full of self-centredness and hero worship. Its changing hexagram is Xiao Chu (9), wherein the small one serves, and plays games with, the large. Hexagram 9 is a battle of wits, while hexagram Yu is a contest of force.






According to the conventional Confucian paraphrasing of the line text, hexagram Yu is mainly referred to as a condition of comfort and pleasure, i.e. enjoying oneself and having fun. Enjoyment is normal; however, it must unfold properly. Whether a line is entitled to enjoyment depends on whether it stays at its right position and acts righteously. Line 4 is the representative line and source of Yu, which pleases others. Thus when a line is linked to line 4, it signifies excessive and inappropriate enjoyment.

According to the commentary on the hexagram text, line 4 is responsible for establishing a ducal state and dispatching the troops. It is requested to win people's support through deep admiration rather than the penal code. In actuality, any line linked with it will experience unpleasant consequences as line 4 shows a person possessing political charisma whose leadership is a cult of personality. Further, it isn't located at the fifth position of the king. Once line 5 changes to masculine and the hexagram becomes Cui (45), to gather together, line 4 will step down and line 5 will regain the support of the people. 

Confucius admired the virtue of line 2, as it is independent from line 4; its insight and foresight, as well as its immediate precautionary action, will lead to auspiciousness.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) cheering Yu (鳴豫); (this is) an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

Enjoyment usually takes place after a task is completed, or a goal attained. Line 1 is just in the beginning phase; it isn't in a position that deserves enjoyment, but teams up with Yu (enjoyment); this is ominous.

Line 1 is the only feminine line in correlation with line 4, the source of Yu; therefore it cheers joyously like a bird. ming2 of 鳴豫yu4 signifies the call of a bird. Line 1 isn't at its right position and position 1 is the beginning (of the hexagram), so it is clearly not entitled to receive enjoyment. It engages with line 4 and becomes smug. Line 4 also represents the inner upper trigram Kan (the abyss, water), peril, which will lead to calamity. These are all ominous signs.



Position 1 is a place for commoners. Line 1 can be also understood as ignorant commoners correlating with a leader who creates a personality cult and feeling cheered; this is ominous.

Commentary on the image: Line 1 cheers for Yu (enjoyment); it is destitute of aspiration (which is) an ominous omen.

From the perspective of establishing a ducal state and dispatching troops, it is engaged in amusing itself right from the beginning; it has no aspiration at all.

Enlightenment through six one: not follow blindly but attend to one's duty. To amuse oneself right from the beginning and not attend to one’s duties (i.e. establishing a ducal state and dispatching troops) is an ominous sign. If this line is activated changing to masculine, acting righteously and disconnecting correlation from line 4, the hexagram will become Zhen (51), where the oldest son faces challenges while protecting legitimacy. Here it is advised that one who succeeds in overcoming all difficulties and accomplishes assigned tasks is entitled to possess what is deserved.


The 2nd line

Text: (The subject is) firmly upright like a rock (which enables it to engage in Yu) not a whole day; to persist is auspicious.

Text explanation:

Firmly upright like a rock means that one won't be affected by enjoyment. Not a whole day signifies to enjoy but not to indulge in revelry. One behaves moderately; to persist is auspicious.

The lower trigram Kun is earth, while the inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, mountain) is taken here for a rock. Line 2 is deeply rooted in the earth; thus the rock can stand firmly upright on the ground.


Line 2 is a feminine axle centre at a position right to it. This signifies that it is entitled to enjoyment, and acts righteously and moderately. As there is no correlation with line 4, the source of happiness and the person creating a personality cult, line 2 won’t be affected by it. Therefore it will not indulge in revelry or wild enthusiasm, and it will be auspicious to persist in maintaining this status.

Confucius’s remarks in Xi Ci Zhuan (i.e. the commentary on the text tagging) are related to foresight and precautionary action. (If one is) capable of being aware of things while they are still being incubated, (one's foresight) is like that of a god! A gentleman deals with those above without flattery and associates with those below with neither scorn nor neglect (signifying he won't be affected by their social status but will watch their motivation); he is able to notice things while they are still at the initial stage. Things at the initial stage display very slight movement; it is fortunate for the one who can see it. A gentleman takes action once he sees it and doesn’t wait until the end of the day. Firmly upright like a rock; how could it take a whole day? (It is in a position) to judge in accordance with what is known. A gentleman is aware of how things will turn out by observing them when they are still small, and he is aware of what is rigid through observing what is soft. (Thus) all people admire him.

Commentary on the image: Not a whole day and to persist is auspicious, (which is done) by virtue of moderation and righteousness.

Enlightenment through six two: When this line is triggered to move, it has several meanings: to enjoy but not to indulge in enjoyment; to be independent from a leader with political charisma; or to observe cautiously to detect trouble and take precautionary action immediately. It is auspicious to persist. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated accordingly is Xie (40), to alleviate, which can be understood as relaxation, or trouble and a crisis being resolved.


The 3rd line

Text: Looking up at Yu causes regret; late (action or correction) has (cause to) regret.

Text explanation:

Line 3 sustains line 4 and looks up at it, the host line of Yu. It doesn’t stay at its right position for Yu but yearns for it which will lead to regret. Additionally, although feminine has the ability to remain still, it is at the position for marching upward. If it doesn't control itself and runs after line 4, it will lead to further regret.

The above-mentioned can be understood as follows: one is not in a position for receiving enjoyment but is still eager to pursue it, which will cause regret. One hesitates to make a correction, which will lead to further regret. Or, from the perspective of following a leader with political charisma, it causes regret if one follows the wrong target, and there will be further regret if one adheres obstinately to the error.

Commentary on the image: Looking up at Yu has (cause to) regret; (this is due to the fact that) the position (where one stays) is inappropriate (to it).

Enlightenment through six three: not to follow the wrong target and not to miss the right time to make a correction. Being eager to pursue enjoyment, or follow a leader who creates a personality cult, causes regret. One hesitates and can’t make corrections in time, which will be further regretted. While this line is activated and changes to masculine, the hexagram appears in the form of Xiao Guo (62), slightly over-compensating in correcting oversteps. Here a newly fledged bird should fly low instead of high (in following line 4 in the upper trigram).


The 4th line

Text: (The subject is) the source of Yu; there will be great attainment; do not suspect; friends will gather (like) hair (bound by a) clasp.

Text explanation:

Line 4 is the only masculine line; masculine Yang is symbolic of happiness as it is bright, i.e. without shade or sadness. Therefore it is the source of happiness and all will be pleased and inspired by it. By virtue of this, line 4 can achieve greatly as described in the hexagram text. Do not suspect others (i.e. those who have been affected by unpleasant experiences) or wonder if this will happen, rather be receptive and bring benefit to the people instead of creating a personality cult; friends will come and gather around.

It is the host line of hexagram Yu and represents the upper trigram Zhen, to move. Because of that, it inspires the three feminine lines below and drives lines 5 and 6, the king and the shrine (i.e. the country).

There is no need to be suspicious. Although the inner upper trigram Kan is illness of heart, i.e. suspicion, the inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, mountain) signifies to stop. Masculine line 4 passes through the feminine lines like a hair clasp, symbolising that friends gather and form bonds.


Line 4 is the one with political charisma and is responsible for establishing the ducal state and dispatching troops. All people will offer their submission in following him and he will bring forth great achievements.

Duke Ji Fa (姬發, King Wu of Zhou) planned to topple King Zhou of Shang (紂王) and reviewed his troops. It was said that 800 dukes had joined the parade and unanimously asked him to take immediate action. After he verified that he had the full support of the dukes, he launched a war the following year. He was to lead 300 chariots and 45,000 infantry, joined by 4,000 chariots sent by the supporting dukes.

What he intended to do was to topple tyranny and release people from misery (i.e. submitting to the mandate of Heaven and catering to the wishes of the people); he did not need to be suspicious or worry whether he would get support. Once he took action, the dukes and the people gathered around him.

Commentary on the image: The source of Yu attains greatly, (as) aspiration is widely carried out.

All the feminine lines gather around line 4. Its representing trigram Kan (the abyss, water) is signified as aspiration, and trigram Zhen as to carry out, thus aspiration can be widely carried out.


Enlightenment through nine four: to consolidate all available forces and undertake what is intended. It is the source of Yu which pleases and inspires people, and the one who can lead people to undertake a great mission and realize tremendous achievements. But one must have confidence, as well as being receptive and bringing benefit to the people, so that friends will gather together in support. After this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram becomes Kun (2), Earth, which accommodates and nourishes all life. Kun also denotes the land and people, signifying that a ducal state is established.


The 5th line

Text: To persist (leads to a kind of) illness; for a long time it won’t die (i.e. it will last for quite awhile).

Text explanation:

Although line 5 is at the king's position, it isn't in the right position for being entitled to enjoyment. It rides on line 4, the source of Yu, i.e. it abuses enjoyment; persisting in this leads to a kind of illness. As it is at the axle centre which possesses the principle of moderation, it won't be damaged or destroyed if it is able to compose music to revere virtue (like the late king mentioned in the commentary on the hexagram image).

To adhere obstinately to an ineffective plan (i.e. taking precautions against line 4's growing strength), and to be positioned in such a way that backing down is difficult (as it rides on the masculine rigidity of line 4) is a kind of illness, although not a physical one. It will suffer this way for quite awhile. The inner upper trigram Kan (the abyss, water) is an illness of the heart and peril. Line 5 rides on Kan but it won’t die as it occupies the core position of the upper trigram and possesses legitimacy. Thus it might tackle difficulties with line 4 through the principle of moderation.

Commentary on the image: (It is a kind of) illness for line 5 to persist (because it is) riding on (the one of) rigidity.  For a long time it won’t die (i.e. it will last for quite awhile) (as) the principle of moderation won't perish.

Enlightenment through six five: making a great effort to build up one's strength. Line 5 is at the king’s position, but line 4 achieves greatly and obtains widespread support. Therefore line 5 becomes a puppet and suffers a kind of illness which isn't physical but rather a condition caused by a troublesome and difficult problem. If this line can change to masculine, staying at a position right for it and acting independently from line 4, the hexagram will become Cui (45), to gather together. Here people gather around it based on righteousness; this way it can dismiss line 4 from its position.

The 6th line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) obscure Yu; it has been formed (but) there is a change (coming); (this will lead to) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

Line 6 reaches the upper extremity of hexagram Yu, wherein revelry is indulged in day and night. On the other hand, after one has experienced all the pleasures available along the way, they lose their appeal and one becomes disconnected from them. The hexagram is going to change and if line 6 can take this opportunity to change (to masculine), it can evade fault and calamity. That's because masculine Yang is bright and position 6 is no longer the right place for it to be entitled to enjoyment. 

From the perspective of following a leader with political charisma, the excitement starts to fade after passing through position 5 and separating from line 4. It is possible to get out of the predicament and arrive at the next hexagram Sui, if one has insight into reaching the end and knows what is right to follow.

Commentary on the image: Obscure Yu is (dizzy) at the top; how can it last long?

Enlightenment through six six: to make a change and follow the right direction. Revelry reaches its peak; fortunately the curtain is coming down and the audience is leaving. There is an opportunity to make a change, and one can be free from calamity if one chooses to do so. Or, a person reaches the end of what he has been doing (through political fanaticism) and there is no way to go further. If he can make a change, this will lead him away from calamity. The hexagram that forms after this line changes is Jin (35), to advance with brightness. It is a positive advance by virtue of contribution, and shows the sun lighting up the world to dispel depravity.