23 Bo1

The lower: Kun1 (submissiveness, earth). The upper: Gen (keeping still, the mountain).

Bo: to peel off; the feminine overpowers the masculine; evil erodes goodness.






Masculine engages in grace (Bi4) and then progresses smoothly. As a result of pursuing feminine adornment and losing the substance, masculinity will be depleted; therefore Bo is granted. Bo means to pare, while Bo of hexagram 23 resembles aged paint cracking and peeling off, piece by piece. Therefore it is signified as to peel off and suggests the decay and destruction of an object.

Bo displays the masculine lines of hexagram Qian2 (1) having gradually been overpowered, as if peeled off by feminine lines, one after another, to the remaining masculine line 6.

The upper trigram Gen denotes the mountain, and the lower trigram Kun1 is earth. The feminine is growing upward, while the masculine deteriorates. The scene is like a weathered mountain collapsing to the ground and becoming soil, this is the image of Bo.

The feminine line acting on behalf of dark Yin here is taken for the villain, while the masculine (bright-Yang) line is the gentleman. When villains prevail, a gentleman must maintain his position in adversity. After Bo reaches its upper extremity, the unfavourable situation will change as its reverse hexagram Fu (24) appears immediately after. Hexagram Fu means a return of masculine and recovery of the gentleman’s norm.

The inner hexagram of Bo is Kun1 (2), submissiveness and receptiveness, signifying one should be submissive to the trend and receptive to the unfavourable situation in the time of Bo. Once hexagram Bo gets an opportunity to change, it will become Guai (43), (the masculine) to eradicate (the feminine).


Text: (not)(be advantageous or appropriate)(have)(place)(go)

Bo (peeling off): It is not advantageous (or appropriate) to go somewhere.

Commentary on the text: Bo: It signifies to peel off; the one of tenderness is changing the one of rigidity.  It is not advantageous (or appropriate) to go somewhere, as the villain is growing upward.  The hexagram exhibits its virtue in the form of being submissive to the trend of the times like the lower trigram Kun1 and then stopping like the upper trigram Gen, which is perceived while observing the image of hexagram Bo.  The gentleman respects the reciprocal decrease and increase between masculine and feminine like the waxing and waning of the moon, as it is the way that Heaven performs.

Text explanation:

Villains are in power; a gentleman should restrain himself and behave conservatively. It is not advantageous to carry out what is planned.

The feminine is seen as tenderness and the masculine as rigidity. The feminine is growing upward, while the masculine is retreating. The feminine prevails, and the hexagram is changing from Qian2 to Bo. The lower trigram Kun1 denotes submissiveness, and the upper trigram Gen is to stop. This signifies submitting to the trend of the times, and stopping when required; this is seen in the image presented by hexagram Bo.

A gentleman understands that according to the way of Nature, the masculine will decrease when the feminine increases. Following that, the feminine will decrease when the masculine increases; he respects this inevitable trend and follows the pattern.

Commentary on the image: Mountain rests on earth: Bo.  Those above, in accordance with this, are generous to those below in order to reinforce the foundation.

Earth is the foundation of the mountain; if the earth is unstable, the mountain will tumble down.


Hexagram Bo suggests the risk of perishing, as the masculine is almost overpowered by the feminine. When villains prevail, a gentleman should behave conservatively; it is not advantageous to undertake what is planned. Its changing hexagram is Guai (43) wherein the masculine eradicates the feminine, peacefully but with determination.

Hexagram Bo possesses none of the four virtues; therefore it is better not to engage in any undertaking.

Although hexagram Bo is seen as a struggle between the feminine Yin (i.e. evil or the villain) and masculine Yang (i.e. goodness or the gentleman), the prevalence of negative power can also refer to: the loss of resources (or wealth) due to profligacy; the extinction of a species due to reduced competitiveness; or dying after a long illness.






Hexagram Bo evolves while the masculine lines of hexagram Qian2 (1) are gradually peeled off and replaced by the feminine lines, one after another; this is seen as evil (or villains) prevailing while goodness (or the gentleman) is overpowered.

Evil, tending to overpower goodness, must be subdued. Therefore misfortune, or good fortune, is determined as feminine lines 1, 2 and 4 grow upward without being suppressed by the masculine; they are all ominous. Line 3, in correlation with masculine line 6, is restricted by the masculine; its evil effect is lessened, resulting in no calamity. Line 5 is occupied by line 6 and subdued by the masculine; it changes and becomes more compromising sustaining masculine line 6, which benefits both lines and leads to nothing unfavourable. Line 6 pays attention to the crisis and reinforces its foundation as noted in the commentary above. Consequently it can act like a gentleman riding in a carriage to hexagram Fu (24), while the villain loses everything.

The lower trigram Kun1 is the earth which bears the whole of creation; therefore it is taken for a bed. The bed is where people can rest and relax, i.e. the safest and most comfortable place.

The 1st line

Text: 剝床(bed)(whereby)(leg)(exterminate, extinguish)貞凶

The subject is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed whereby its legs being destroyed (); to persist is ominous.

Text explanation:

The villain starts to overpower the gentleman; it is ominous if the feminine keeps advancing along the timeline (of hexagram Qian2) in an overwhelming manner. One should heed the menace and remain alert; a business as usual attitude is ominous.

Position 1 is at the bottom position of trigram Kun1, the bed. Therefore line 1 is taken for the leg of the bed. Hexagram Qian2 will evolve into Bo. Position 1 is where the feminine starts to peel off the masculine; masculine line 1 vanishes and becomes feminine. Hereafter the masculine lines will be overpowered, one after another. Originally line 1 was masculine and stayed in its right place. Now it is replaced and changes to feminine. The masculine must not remain settled as it once was, otherwise it will become ominous.

mie4 originally signified the red and swollen eyes which can’t see clearly. It is extendedly to mean to slight and also taken as a homophone of mie4 (to exterminate or extinguish).

Commentary on the image: Line 1 is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed whereby its legs being destroyed, signifying that the feminine succeeds in exterminating () the masculine below.

Enlightenment through six one: hold the field. The villain starts to prevail and the gentleman begins to be overpowered. The situation is like the leg of a bed crumbling; it is ominous to remain settled as usual. One should not ignore the change, rather one should remain alert. If this line changes to masculine, the hexagram that forms is Yi2 (27), to nourish. Here one can survive as both eating and sleeping are secured. The hexagram will remain as Bo if no action is taken.

The 2nd line

Text: 剝床以(thereby)(frame)(slight)貞凶

The subject is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed thereby reaching the frame; to slight this persistently is ominous.

Text explanation:

Line 1 is the leg of a bed; line 2 is taken here for the frame. If the frame of the bed is decrepit as well, people will lose the safest place they have.

The feminine begins to prevail and tends to dominate. The masculine line 2 of the original hexagram Qian2 is further overpowered as feminine line 2 arrives at its right place and occupies the core position (of the lower trigram). This signifies that the villain overtakes his post and holds power. It is ominous since the feminine will continue to destroy the masculine.

Commentary on the image: Line 2 is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed thereby reaching the frame, which is due to lack of association.

No masculine line correlates with line 2, signifying that no restriction can be imposed on it; therefore the feminine continues to oppress.

Enlightenment through six two: Evil power begins to prevail as the crisis is ignored and no action taken. One should learn from this lesson. When this line is triggered to move, the hexagram tends to Meng (4), ignorance. This signifies that the frame of the bed is decrepit, and people have lost their safe and stable place. It is ominous as evil will prevail. Although Meng means ignorance (i.e. a looming crisis is ignored and no proper precautions taken), ignorance will be dispelled once people are enlightened in hexagram Meng which forms after this line changes to masculine.


The 3rd line

Text: 剝之(third person, objective case, i.e. masculine line 3)(no)

The subject is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) it (line 3), but there is no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

The feminine continues to overpower the masculine; however there is no calamity on this occasion. This is due to a restriction imposed on the villain which can ameliorate the unfavourable situation.

Though the originally masculine line 3 is overpowered, feminine line 3, in correlation with masculine line 6, is suppressed by the masculinity of line 6.

Commentary on the image: No calamity of Bo (peeling off), which is due to line 3 losing an alliance with those above and below.

Masculine line 6 restricts line 3 reducing the upward momentum of the feminine and preventing its possible alliance with lines 2 and 4.

Enlightenment through six three: The crisis is halted but still exists; one should prevent it from expanding outwards (to the external trigram). When this line is triggered to move, it signifies that the arrogance of the feminine is temporarily suppressed; therefore there is no imminent calamity. However masculinity is still being peeled off and the hexagram appears as Gen (52), where peeling off stops and moves when required, even when this line is converted to masculine. This signals that the stop is a perfunctory one, and the next attack will be ferocious.


The 4th line

Text: 剝床以膚(skin)

The subject is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed thereby reaching the skin of the human body, which is an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

The feminine has already marched over the barrier between the lower and the upper trigram, and on to the top of the bed. The feminine power has been developing from inside (i.e. the internal trigram) to outside (i.e. the external trigram), and the threat reaches the human body.

Trigram Gen resembles the skin as its tender feminine denotes flesh while the hard masculine on top is the skin. Feminine line 4 reaches the upper trigram Gen and damages the skin of the body lying on the bed. The lower trigram is completely occupied by the feminine and the upper trigram starts being peeled off, which is ominous.



Commentary on the image: Line 4 is in a state of evil-like feminine Bo (peeling off) the bed thereby reaching the skin of the human body, signifying calamity is close and imminent.

Enlightenment through six four: fight it out. The evil has marched on to the bed. The threat reaches the human body, and calamity is close and imminent; this is ominous. If this line can be changed to masculine, the hexagram will become Jin (35), where the sun rises above earth brightening the world and denying evil a place to hide. Consequently the advance of the feminine lines is stopped.


The 5th line

Text: 貫魚(fish)(thereby)宮人(court lady)(love dearly)(nothing)(not)(advantage)

Like a string () of fish, court ladies queue up for King's favour; nothing is unfavourable.

Text explanation:

The unfavourable situation is stopped and begins to reverse. Evil is restrained and becomes submissive to goodness. No matter what is to be done, there is nothing unfavourable.

The feminine reaches the end and encounters the masculine. It is stopped, as line 6 is the representative line of trigram Gen, to stop. Fish live in water, i.e. a place with no sunshine, and Yin symbolised by the feminine line is dark; therefore the feminine here is taken for fish. All the feminine lines are stopped and arrayed in a series, like fish being strung on a line. Line 5, in the lead, sustains masculine line 6 and is occupied by it, like the king’s concubine being favoured.



guan4 is a monetary unit and also the string that passes through the middle holes of those coins and ties them together.

Commentary on the image: Line 5 is in a state of court ladies queuing up for King's favour; eventually there will be no discontent.

Evil is stopped, and the female is accepted and cared for by the masculine; in the end there will be no discontent for the masculine and feminine.

Enlightenment through six five: to give up evil and turn to goodness. Evil is stopped, and the feminine is restrained like fish being strung on a line. It submits to goodness and is accepted by the masculine like court ladies being favoured after they show submission. The unfavourable situation is reversed; regardless of what is to be done, there will be nothing unfavourable. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated becoming masculine is Guan (20), (those masculine above) present a model (for those feminine below to follow).


The 6th line

Text: 碩果(a large fruit or the only remaining fruit)(not)(eat)君子(gentleman)(obtain)輿(carriage)小人(villain)剝廬(thatched cottage)

A large fruit has not been eaten; the gentleman gains a carriage, while the villain Bo (peels off) the house.

Text explanation:

From now on the gentleman can gallop and act freely, while the villain will lose his shield if he still intends to take advantage of his power and bully the gentleman.

The feminine power reached its upper extremity at position 4 and was stopped at position 5. Line 6 is the masculine that defeats the feminine and remains intact like a large, uneaten fruit. Hereafter a gentleman (denoted by the masculine line) can act freely like riding on a carriage and galloping, while the villain will tear down his own shield if he still intends to overpower the masculine.

The inner upper trigram Kun1 is a carriage; line 6 rides on it in a way of occupying line 5 and correlating with (i.e. restricting) line 3. If line 6 is changed to the feminine becoming a villain, the upper trigram Gen will disappear. Trigram Gen looks like a door; the door disappears, signifying that the house is torn down.


Commentary on the image: The gentleman gains a carriage; he will be carried along by the people.  The villain Bo (peels off) the house; he will end up not being employed.

The lower, the inner lower and the inner upper trigrams are all Kun1, the people. Line 6 correlates with and is sustained by them. This signifies that what the gentleman intends (i.e. to recover masculinity, goodness and the norm of the gentleman) is supported by all the people. The villain becomes homeless and wanders; he will no longer be assigned any job, signifying the villain loses its position and power.

Enlightenment through nine six: 1) evil can never prevail over good, or 2) one should rally all available forces to make a comeback. The masculine defeats the feminine and remains intact like a large fruit that hasn't been eaten. From now on a gentleman can ride in a carriage and gallop (to the next hexagram Fu, to recover), while the villain loses everything, including his shield. When this line is activated, hexagram Kun1 (2), earth, emerges where the large fruit can sprout after falling to the ground. Hereafter the masculine starts to recover in the next hexagram Fu.