17 Sui2

The lower: Zhen (to move, the thunder). The upper: Dui (joy, the marsh).

Sui: to follow; to make adjustments at the right time in accordance with the occasion (while always following what is righteous).






People will definitely follow after having been pleased (Yu); therefore Sui is granted. The submissiveness of hexagram Yu in moving according to the intentions of those above creates following. Sui signifies to follow.

The lower trigram Zhen is a masculine trigram and signifies to move, while the upper trigram Dui is a feminine trigram and signifies joy. Masculine rigidity moves below the tender feminine which expresses joy. This is the image of following in hexagram Sui. The one above must express kindness with a pleasant countenance; then the one below will be willing to follow.

The inner hexagram of Sui is Jian (53), to progress gradually and sequentially. This signifies that following must be done gradually, step by step, by watching carefully and making sure that every step is correct. Its changing and reverse hexagram is Gu (18) which means luring by glossing over one’s intentions while Sui signifies following without expressing an opinion.

Sui can also mean to adjust at the right time and perform correctly in accordance with the occasion which focuses on what must be done now. Hexagram Yu (16) signifies to be properly prepared for the future, while hexagram Gu (18) means to remove long-standing bad practices. They represent what should be done in accordance with the sequence of time.


Text: Sui (to follow), (which will lead to) great and smooth progress; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist; (there will be) no calamity (or fault).

Commentary on the text: Sui (to follow); (the one of) rigidity comes and stays below (those of) tenderness; (Sui exhibits its norm in the form of) movement (like the lower trigram Zhen) and joy (expressed as the upper trigram Dui), (which signifies) Sui. Greatly smooth progress (entails) persistence (in righteousness), (which will result in) no calamity (or fault).  The world Sui (follows) time; the appropriate action of Sui (following) time is momentous.

Text explanation:

As described by its commentary, Sui is created after a masculine line from trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven) descends and stays at the bottom of trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth). (The one of) rigidity (i.e. the masculine line of trigram Qian) comes and stays below (those of) tenderness (i.e. the feminine lines of trigram Kun).


Masculine line 1 is the founding and representative line of hexagram Sui. Its descent creates the lower trigram Zhen (to move) and the upper trigram Dui (joy). Afterward, the one below moves and the one above appears joyous. This indicates that the strong one agrees to stay at a lower position representing trigram Zhen. It moves according to the step taken by the one above, not its own; its following pleases the one above. Therefore hexagram Sui will attain great and smooth progress. However its following must persist with righteousness, and then it can be free from calamity or fault.

From the perspective of Nature, all creatures act in accordance with time, i.e. the changes of day and night, as well as the four seasons. Therefore hexagram Sui also means to adjust at the right time and perform correctly in accordance with the occasion; but the persistence of following what is righteous should never change.

Commentary on the image: Within the marsh, the thunder; Sui.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, goes indoors to rest after nightfall.

Trigram Zhen is in the east and trigram Dui is in the west; the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In this way a gentleman follows time, i.e. the changes of day and night, working and resting.


To move according to the preference of those above, thereby pleasing them, will lead following (or what one intends) to great and smooth progress. All the lines that are inspired by line 4 of Yu (16) i.e. a person with political charisma who creates a personality cult, are ominous omens as they ignore the legitimacy of line 5, the king. Therefore one must be prudent in selecting what is right to follow.

When one makes adjustments at the right time and performs in accordance with the occasion, one will progress greatly and smoothly; it is advantageous to persist and follow what is right so that there will be no calamity or fault. Its inner hexagram is Jian4 (53); therefore one must follow step by step, gradually and sequentially. Its changing hexagram is Gu (18), a long-standing bad habit or practice caused by unconscious following. The mission of Gu is to remove them.

Sui inherits all four virtues (origination, smooth progress, advantage and persistence) from hexagrams Qian and Kun. Although it converts them into great and smooth progress, and persistence bringing forth benefit, it must follow righteousness as what it pursues is freedom from fault or calamity. Additionally, the virtue of advantage is excluded in the commentary on the text. From a Confucian perspective, this means that appropriate action to avoid fault or calamity is more important than the pursuit of benefit.

Further according to Xi Ci Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the text tagging), Sui is a hexagram suggestive of land transportation. By driving an ox cart and riding a horse, carrying heavy loads and traveling distances it brings benefits to the world.






Sui signifies to follow and also means to adjust at the right time and perform correctly according to the occasion, i.e. to act in accordance with the different phases at each line position. Therefore, one should accept changes and adjust oneself accordingly at position 1. Line 2 chooses and follows the one suited to an immediate demand. Line 3 has grown up; it must avoid short-sightedness and pursue its life's goal. Once one is in office and at a high-ranking position, one must avoid following vested interests and ignoring legitimacy or righteousness as line 4 does. Line 5 is the one that others follow; it must be sincere and trustworthy. Line 6 is exempted from its obligation after having accomplished its mission; therefore it must be treated reverently in order to have it follow.

Following is effected by friendly relations with a neighbouring line rather than by a distant correlation as following at the right time requires immediate action. In the text, a feminine line following a masculine line is described as being fastened to (xi4) the masculine. A masculine line following a feminine line is described as associating with (Jiao) the feminine. The word Sui (to follow) is used when an appropriate action must be taken in accordance with what is correct to follow.


The 1st line

Text: The governmental post has changed; to persist (in following) is auspicious; by going outdoors to associate (with others) there is merit obtainable.

Text explanation:

Line 1, the founding and representative line of hexagram Sui, arrives at a new hexagram. Therefore it follows the new circumstances and acts according to what is newly assigned, i.e. to adjust at the right time and perform correctly in accordance with the occasion.

Normally, feminine is designated as submissive to masculine, like trigram Kun submitting to trigram Qian which appears before Sui is formed. Masculine line 1 here follows feminine line 2 symbolising that what was originally assigned has changed. Line 1, at a position right to it, acts righteously according to its new assignment. It is auspicious to persist in following line 2 which correlates with line 5 at the king’s position, a place full of merit. Thus, there is significant achievement possible by following line 2. 

The inner lower trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain) looks like a door; line 1 stays outside it. To go outdoors signifies not isolating oneself but adjusting and acting in accordance with changes in the surroundings. It is in this respect that it follows line 2 along the timeline, i.e. takes an available opportunity for new growth with good results.



Commentary on the image: The governmental post has changed; to comply with righteousness is auspicious.  By going outdoors to associate (with others, i.e. to follow feminine line 2) there is merit obtainable; (then one) won’t lose (the opportunity).

As line 2 is in correlation with line 5, it is auspicious for line 1 to follow it according to the norm of hexagram Sui. Line 1 acts righteously at its right position, thus it won't miss the opportunity to achieve merit when the right time comes.

Enlightenment through nine one: to adjust at the right time and act according to the occasion. The environment or assignment has changed; following the change and persisting is auspicious. The governmental post is a general term for ruling; it can be a leader or regulation, a principle or standpoint, etc. It is auspicious to be flexible, but what is righteous requires persistence. One should leave behind what one used to be (i.e. adjust at the right time and act in accordance with changes) and start a new life (by following the tendency and dealing with the new and potential); merit is thus achievable. The hexagram that appears when this line is activated and changes to feminine is Cui (45), to gather together, where the feminine lines are designated to join those who call for a gathering.


The 2nd line

Text: (The subject is) fastened to a young child; (this causes it) to lose a mature man.

Text explanation:

In the phase when one is ready to start taking action, it is important to decide which steps to take and which to avoid; otherwise one will be led in the wrong direction, with consequences. Line 2 shows a person losing sight of what is right to follow in favour of an immediate solution; he is unable to take into account long term considerations.

A mature man and young child represent long term and short term plans, or a good and bad choice respectively. Line 2 is the neighbour of friendly line 1 and correlates with line 5 at the king's position. Line 2 follows line 1, which is nearby, rather than line 5. It focuses only on present demands causing it to ignore what is right and important for the future.

Commentary on the image: (Line 2 is) fastened to a young child ( i.e. it follows masculine line 1), (as it is) unable to take care of both.

The need to meet an immediate requirement makes one unable to take care of a long term plan.

Enlightenment through six two: to carefully consider the matter from all angles and act at the right time. A person follows what is immature located nearby and loses what is mature at a distance. He makes a realistic choice in accordance with the demands or benefits of the moment. Although it is unknown if this leads to good or bad fortune, the hexagram that forms after this line is activated accordingly is Dui (58), joy. This signifies carpe diem, i.e. to seize the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject is) fastened to a mature man; (this causes it) to lose a young child.  Sui (to follow) will attain what is asked for; it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist in remaining steadfast.

Text explanation:

One can attain what one intends to achieve by following the right person or guide, and one must persist in remaining steadfast in what one has been following.

Line 3 is friendly next to line 4. Therefore it follows masculine line 4 (i.e. the mature man located above) and leaves feminine line 2 (i.e. the young child located below).

Though line 3 is feminine and feminine tends to remain still, it is at the position for marching upward. If it can go to position 4, it will be in a position to sustain line 5, the king. Then the hexagram will become Ji Ji (63), optimal status. Hence it is advantageous to remain steadfast in what one has been engaged in as expectations can be realized once action is taken.


Commentary on the image: (The subject is) fastened to a mature man (i.e. follows masculine line 4), (as the) aspiration is to desert that which is ranked below.

After lines 3 and 4 exchange positions, the inner lower trigram becomes Kan, which signifies aspiration. The aspiration of line 3 is to desert the one below (line 2) and move upward to follow the one above (line 4).

Enlightenment through six three: to look for a long-term plan and seek upward develop-ment. Following the one above and deserting the one below signifies that one's aspiration is to develop upwardly. It is a right direction. To remain steadfast in what one has been doing is advantageous. When this line is activated, the hexagram appears in the form of Ge (49), reform or revolution. Here it is advised to make a plan and acts accordingly.


The 4th line

Text: Sui (to follow) has attainments; to persist (in following) is ominous.  (The subject ought to exhibit) sincerity and trust (and remain) within the norm (of a courtier, or along the course of the timeline) to make (this) clear; how could this be calamitous (or a fault)?

Text explanation:

Line 4 is at the courtier’s position yet not in a position to follow line 5, the king whose position is full of merit and with whom the courtier can attain what he deserves. On the other hand, it is friendly next to line 3, the duke, and occupies line 3. This signifies that it follows line 3 and obtains merit from it, as the duke functions and achieves like the king. Though line 4 still attain merit by following line 3, it is not from the king; thus it is ominous to persist.

If line 4 can adjust itself and change to feminine, the upper trigram will become Kan (the abyss, water), denoting sincerity and trust. Line 4 will then be at its right position and sustain line 5, i.e. it will act righteously and exhibit loyalty to the king; how could there still be calamity?



The text can be also understood as one easily making use of the prestige of those above, and talent of those below, to achieve something. However, such achievements, attained by following dignitaries, must be justified.

Commentary on the image: Sui (to follow) has attainments, what it signifies is ominous.  (Line 4 ought to exhibit) sincerity and trust (and remain) within the norm (of a courtier, or along the course of the timeline) (in order) to illuminate (the achieved) merit.

Following (the king) sincerely and trustworthily in accordance with the norm (of a courtier), or along the righteous course, will result in open and transparent merit.

Enlightenment through nine four: to follow a righteous course to attain achievements. Attaining achievements through following (those who hold power) must be justified; to persist in wrongdoing is ominous. One must be sincere and trustworthy in following what is righteous; then the merit achieved will be deserved. After this line changes to feminine sustaining line 5, the hexagram becomes Zhen (3), difficult to initiate. Here it is advised to ally with others (i.e. line 1) to support the major force (line 5) to make a breakthrough.


The 5th line

Text: (The subject must maintain) sincerity and trust in an optimum state (while associating with others) (); (then it is of) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

A leader must treat others with sincerity and trust; then people will be willing to follow him. The original meaning of jia1 is beauty and goodness, i.e. an optimal state as both the interior and exterior are in a good condition. It is also paraphrased as favuorable interplay between masculine and feminine. Therefore, it is auspicious if sincerity and trust can be achieved in such a way that those below follow loyally and are treated with sincerity in return. This way they can associate through mutual trust.

There is no mention of following in this line's text, as line 5 is the king. He is followed by all people and does not follow others. It very generously accepts line 4 as a follower once it changes to feminine, acts righteously and sustains it, i.e. conforms to the courtier's norm of following the king. After that, the upper trigram appears in the form Kan (the abyss, water), sincerity and trust. Line 5 sits in the middle of Kan and associates with lines 4 and 6 based on sincerity and trust; they both follow it.


Commentary on the image: Sincerity and trust (maintained) in the optimum state (while associating with others) is auspicious, (which is due to the fact that) the position (where line 5 stays) is the middle (of the upper trigram, where the principle of moderation is available) and the right one (where it acts righteously).

Line 5 acts like a king. Its righteousness and moderation cause line 4 to follow it; afterward it must sincerely and trustworthily associate with line 4, i.e. treat it in a reverent and honest manner and always keep its word; then it will be auspicious.

Enlightenment through nine five: treating others sincerely and keeping one's word are the best practices if one wants others to follow. A leader must treat others sincerely and trust-worthily; then people are willing to follow him. Acting righteously and moderately can attract people to follow, while sincerity and trust can keep them following. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated accordingly is Zhen (51), thunder, which repeatedly booms deterring people from moving forward. Here a successor proves himself a competent leader after having undergone trials successfully.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject ought) to be fastened as if being detained; then (it will) submit to being bound.  The king assigns (it) to take charge of offering sacrifices at the ceremony on Mount West. 

Text explanation:

Position 6 is usually an honoured position but without any title, power, responsibility or obligation. Originally, line 6 was the top line of trigram Qian. It descended to the bottom of trigram Kun, like the one who agreed to stay at a lower position and then follow those above, as described in the commentary on the hexagram text.

Feminine line 6 staying above line 5, the king, is taken for a person who possesses an honoured position and is respected by the king after having accomplished its mission. At the end of Sui, it intends to leave and live freely, but is detained by the king as if fastened (by his sincerity and trust) as the king always seeks and recruits virtuous people. Thus it follows the king’s summon and is delegated to offering sacrifices at the ceremony. This is an honoured position as the job must be performed by a chieftain.

Mount West (西山) lay west of Dukedom Zhou’s capital and was the location of the Zhou's shrine. The upper trigram Dui is in the west and the inner lower trigram Gen denotes a mountain, while line 6 is the shrine. This probably refers to the ceremony held by Duke Ji Chang (姬昌known posthumously as King Wen of Zhou ). This assignment followed his release from detention at You Li (羑里) by King Zhou of Shang (紂王). It indicated that King Zhou trusted that Ji Chang had no ambition to enthrone himself, and thus permitted him to lead his dukedom and hold the sacrificial ceremony.


Commentary on the image: (Line 6 ought) to be fastened as if being detained, (as) the one above becomes destitute (of the norm of following).

Line 5 must respect line 6 in order to have it follow, like recruiting a virtuous person to serve the country as such people regard themselves highly and don't carelessly follow others.

Enlightenment through six six: to secure the following of those above through an honoured assignment. A person is exempted from his obligation (of following) after having accomplished his mission. He must be respectfully recruited by being assigned a noble mission. The hexagram that appears when this line is activated is Wu Wang (25), no misbehaviour, which is advised to last to the end like Ji Chang yielding obedience to King Zhou for the rest of his life. .




Apart from sincerity and trust, fu2 also signifies “the captured”. The text of line 5 in Chinese, (sincerity and trust) yu2 (in or at) jia1 (an optimum state), can also be interpreted as “the captured at Jia”. This may be related to the war between the Zhou and You Jia tribe (有嘉). After Duke Ji Chang was released from Yu Li, he intensively strengthened his dukedom to resolve the threat posed by neighbouring tribes so he could focus on the future war with the Shang.

Based on the above interpretation and historical setting, the lines can be paraphrased as follows:

To eliminate You Jia's harassment, Ji Chang decided to launch an attack. He conscripted people to follow him as described in line 1; there was merit obtainable in leaving home and engaging in war. He conquered You Jia and acquired the captured as is mentioned in line 5. After the victory, he returned to Mount West with the captured and worshipped at Zhou's shrine in line 6. In the battle of line 2, soldiers were captured and fastened as slaves but the commander escaped. In the second battle of line 3, the soldiers are intentionally set free; as a result the commander was captured and fastened as sacrifice for the ceremony. As for line 4, it followed the expedition in pursuit of personal benefit and kept the captured for its own use; it evaded calamity after it dispatched the captured to position 5.