24 Fu4

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

Fu: to return (and recover); the return of masculinity and goodness






Things can't be forced into a dead-end forever.  When peeling off (Bo) reaches its upper extremity, the one above returns to the bottom; therefore Fu is granted. The reciprocal increase and decrease between masculinity and femininity is the rule of Heaven. The feminine overpowers the masculine but can never eradicate it. After Bo (23) reaches its end, the remaining single masculine line 6 returns (i.e. moves against the timeline) to the bottom, the starting point of a hexagram, and starts to recover. Fu means to return and recover. Hexagram Fu is the reversal of hexagram Bo which is signified as to decay as the masculine is diminished. Fu means to return as the masculine comes back.

Thunder is booming down into the earth. All life, conceived under the ground, is aroused. The large, uneaten fruit (line 6 of hexagram Bo) falls to the ground and starts to sprout, signifying the return of life.

The inner hexagram of Fu is Kun (2), earth, where the large fruit falls. It is comprised of dark, cold feminine lines which denote October (of the Chinese lunar calendar). After masculinity returns and occupies the bottom position of Kun, it becomes hexagram Fu and November which includes the winter solstice (of the solar calendar). This is when the bright and warm masculine starts to revive. The changed hexagram of Fu is Gou (44), the month of May, where masculinity has passed its climax and starts to decline. The Chinese lunisolar calendar is a system that integrates 24 solar terms and 12 lunar months by inserting an additional month every four years.


Text: Fu (to return), (which will obtain) smooth progress.  (Masculinity is in a state of) coming in and going out without illness; friends will be coming and (there will be) no calamity.  Returning to Fu is its norm, (by which) it returns in seven days; it is instrumental in going somewhere.

Commentary on the text: Fu (to return), (which will obtain) smooth progress; (the one of) rigidity (i.e. line 1) returns, moves (like its representing lower trigram Zhen) and then progresses smoothly (like moving over the plains of the upper trigram Kun, or acts submissively according to the trend of the times); therefore (masculinity is in a state of) coming in and going out without illness; friends will be coming and (there will be) no calamity.  Returning to Fu is its norm, (by which) it returns in seven days; (it is the way that) Heaven operates.  It is instrumental in going somewhere; (the one of) rigidity will be growing up.  Fu displays the intention of heaven and earth (i.e. the masculinity of Qian and the femininity of Kun).

Text explanation:

Masculinity returns and will start recovering. It will move upward to the feminine territory. It is still weak and will encounter many difficulties, but this won’t stop it as friends will come to join and help it. Masculinity had been decreasing while femininity was increasing. Now the masculine starts to increase, and the feminine will decrease. As this will progress smoothly, it is instrumental in undertaking what is intended.

It is masculine line 1 that returns. It represents the lower trigram Zhen, to move. The upper trigram, Kun represents the plains, signifying that it can move forward smoothly; masculinity will continue to increase. Coming in and going out means that the masculine returns to the internal trigram and will move to the external trigram. It will encounter resistance from the feminine lines above but won’t be hurt because this is the tendency, i.e. masculinity will gradually increase from hexagram Fu to Lin (19), from Lin to Tai (11), from Tai to Da Zhuang (34) and so on, like friends, i.e. masculine lines come to join, making it stronger and stronger, and helping it leave calamity behind.


Following the sequence, masculinity returns right after hexagram Bo (23). However, according to the reciprocal increase and decrease of masculinity and femininity, hexagram Fu evolves from hexagram Gou (44) where feminine power emerges, to hexagram Dun (33) where masculinity starts to retreat, then finally to Fu where masculinity returns. The entire sequence involves seven hexagrams. The return to Fu mirrors the rule of Heaven, i.e. dark night changing to the bright daytime, while seven is the turning point as hexagrams consist of six lines with seven indicating a restart.




It is instrumental in undertaking what is intended as masculinity will continue to grow and the norm of the gentleman will prevail.

Commentary on the image: Thunder within earth; Fu.  The late king, in accordance with this, closed all routes on the day of the winter solstice; merchants and passengers didn’t travel, nor would the king carry out inspections of his states.

The world starts to revive following the winter solstice (around the 22nd of December in the solar calendar). In accordance with this the late king provided an opportunity for the people to rest and recover.


The masculine returns and will start to recover. It returns to a place occupied by the feminine and will move forward as more and more masculine lines join it. Therefore it won’t be hurt and will be free from calamity. Masculinity starting to vanish then returning takes seven days (i.e. it undergoes seven hexagrams). Following the rule of Heaven, the masculine will gradually increase while the feminine deceases. Masculinity recovering is consequential and instrumental in undertaking what is intended. Seven can also represent a rather long period of time preceding the end (i.e. ten).

Hexagram Fu is referred to as recuperation. It also suggests the revival of the gentleman’s norm. 

Fu is a turning point as well as a starting point; the returning masculinity will start a new generation instead of returning to the old one.

Fu possesses the virtues of smooth progress and advantage (expressed in the form of being instrumental), but excludes those of origination and persistence, signifying that the masculine doesn't return to its original starting point and doesn’t guarantee everlasting growth.

The changed hexagram is Gou (44), to meet, where femininity returns; this is the rule of Nature.






Hexagram Fu is the return of masculinity, masculine is regarded here as goodness, i.e. the origin of the gentleman’s norm. It is not possible for people to always do the right thing. There-fore it is important to immediately correct faults. Fu, with respect to its lines, is an example of making corrections and returning to goodness.

Line 1 is the founding line and represents hexagram Fu, i.e. returning masculine and goodness. Other feminine lines are leaving it along the timeline and require correction in order to return to goodness. Their actions concern their positions vis-a-vis line 1. Line 2 is friendly next to goodness; line 3 moves in the opposite direction of goodness; line 4 is in the middle of femininity but in correlation with goodness; line 6 is far from goodness and goes astray; line 5 is independent of line 1, but it counts on self-reflection and the principle of moderation to conform to goodness.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Fu (returning to goodness) from no great extent (i.e. not a long distance); this will not cause regret, (but) great auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Position 1 is the beginning of a hexagram. The masculine (of hexagram Bo) returns to position 1 and a position right to it, signifying that it doesn’t go around but straight back to where it should be. No regret will occur because it would be surrounded and overpowered by the feminine if it returned to a higher position.

As long as there is an opportunity to act properly, one takes immediate action; or once a fault is found, one makes an immediate correction. Line 1 knows what it needs to do and hits the target, which is auspicious. What it pursues is goodness and it returns to goodness without any delay; this is greatly auspicious.

Confucius’s comment in Xi Ci Zhuan (the commentary on the text tagging): The son of Yan (i.e. 顏回 Yan Hui, the most virtuous student of Confucius) behaves like a perfect gentleman who takes action immediately once he sees a problem at its initial stage; he doesn’t wait until the end of the day. If he has done anything wrong, he can always see what it is; once he knows what it is, he will never make the same mistake again.

Commentary on the image: (Line 1 is in a state of) Fu (returning to goodness) from no great extent (i.e. not a long distance), in order to cultivate the self.

Always pursuing goodness and correcting wrongdoing as soon as possible is the first important step in self-cultivation.

Enlightenment through six one: 1) to return to the starting point (of an event), or 2) to correct evil doings and revert to good deeds. Returning to goodness whenever one can, and making corrections immediately after a mistake won’t cause regret but rather great auspiciousness. Should this line not abide by its mandate and changes to feminine, the hexagram would become Kun (2), i.e. all the lines fall into the hands of Yin, which is symbolised by the feminine line and taken for the evil power.

The 2nd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) resting Fu (return); (this is of) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Though the line is designated to move upward along the timeline in order to accomplish its mission at each phase, line 2 halts and stays with goodness. Line 1 returns to goodness as soon as it can, which is of great auspiciousness. Auspiciousness is taken for granted if line 2 remains still and stays with goodness.

Commentary on the image: The auspiciousness of resting Fu (return), (signifying that) it accommodates to what is benevolent (i.e. the intent to conduct good deeds in a generous manner).  

Enlightenment through six two: to enlarge what is achieved. Instead of moving away, one stays with goodness; this is auspicious. While this line is activated and changes to masculine, the hexagram becomes Lin (19), (the masculine below) approaching (the feminine above). This signifies that line 2 starts to approach the evil power after line 1 has survived from the preceding hexagram Bo.


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) repeating Fu (return); (this is of) sternness and cruelty, (but with) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

Trying to return to goodness but always failing or repeatedly making corrections but still faulting is stern and cruel; however this won’t cause any calamity.

Line 3 is constantly urged to move upward after it arrives at the position for marching upward to the upper trigram although it tends to remain still, i.e. stay close to line 1, as the feminine does. However because there is no access to line 1, it is always misguided to move forward when it tries to return to goodness. This is stern and cruel. The norm of hexagram Fu is to make corrections and return to goodness, but this is valuable only when one can do it properly and maintain it. Nevertheless there is no calamity as long as it can keep on returning to goodness.


Commentary on the image: The sternness and cruelty of repeating Fu (return), (but which) signifies no calamity (or fault).

Line 3 always puts goodness in its heart; even though the returning process is stern and cruel, no calamity or fault will befall it.

Enlightenment through six three: to keep on doing what is right regardless of difficulty. Repeatedly trying to be good but always failing is stern and cruel, but it won’t cause calamity. Should this line change to masculine and move upward, the hexagram would become Ming Yi (36), brightness being tarnished, where a tyrant rules the world bringing darkness. Line 3 here is assigned to topple him.


The 4th line

Text:  (The subject is in a state of) acting in the middle and unique Fu (return).

Text explanation:

Line 4, in the middle of the feminine lines, is the only feminine line in correlation with line 1; therefore it is unique. It acts within evil but differs from it as it links to goodness. Good fortune or misfortune is not specified, suggesting that it must remain unaffected and aim for goodness.

Commentary on the image: (Line 4 is in a state of) acting in the middle and unique Fu (return), by virtue of complying with the norm (of hexagram Fu, or to follow the course back to goodness).

Enlightenment through six four: to persist according to one's principles or ideals, and do what is right. To remain independent from evil and act according to the norm of hexagram Fu (i.e. return to goodness) all count on one's determination. If this line changes to masculine itself, it will disconnects correlation from line 1 and be isolated completely by the feminine like being bogged down in the mud, while the hexagram will appear as Zhen (51), thunder. Here the repeated thunder deters people from moving ahead, but one who fearlessly faces challenges to carry on one's mission will win award.


The 5th line

Text:  (The subject is in a state of) honest and reliable () Fu (return); (this is of) no regret.

Text explanation:

Line 5 has no access to line 1 but possesses the principle of moderation (i.e. the intent and ability to act correctly). Therefore it can restrain itself from going to extremes, and control itself to act according to normality. As long as it can honesty and reliably accommodate itself to goodness, there will be no regret even if it can't be fully good.

Earth (denoted by the inner lower, the inner upper and upper trigram Kun) builds upward in a consistent manner symbolising solidity and sturdiness, which is signified as honesty and reliability (dun1hou4). Everything the feminine lines have done to this point aims for goodness; therefore all effort to return to goodness has accumulated to the peak (like position 5 of a hexagram). Because of that, line 5 can honestly and reliably undertake the norm of hexagram Fu. can be also understood as correction as it originally meant to scold.

Commentary on the image: Honest and reliable Fu (return) (is of) no regret; (this is because it is at) the middle (position of the upper trigram and therefore acts according to the principle of moderation) by virtue of self-reflection.

The act of returning (to goodness) along the timeline is signified as reflection (on what has been done). 

Enlightenment through six five: to act moderately through self-reflection in order to achieve the target. By acting moderately through self-reflection one can conform oneself to goodness. There will be no regret even if one has no access to goodness. If this line changes to masculine, the hexagram will appear as Zhun (3), difficult to initiate. Here it is requested to carry out what is intended on a small scale, like the king of Fu giving his people the opportunity to recuperate, and accomplish its mission assigned by Zhun through line 2, i.e. assist it with joint forces in making a breakthrough.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) stray Fu (return), (which is) an ominous omen; there are both a natural disaster and man-made calamity.  To undertake the dispatch of troops (will lead to) a terrible defeat in the end; extending this to the king is ominous; (this will cause) an inability to make a venture for ten years.

Text explanation:

Line 6 can neither move forth nor return as it reaches the end and stays far from position 1. This signifies that it strays in the course of returning to goodness, which is ominous. If it still acts willfully, it will cause both a natural disaster and man-made calamity.

Dispatching the troops signifies acting willfully. Instead of seeking a way back to true goodness, it changes goodness to fit itself, i.e. lifts line 1 to position 3 as if the masculine returned to position 3. Then the hexagram would become Qian1 (15). Should line 6 descend to position 3, the hexagram would become Bo (23), wherein masculinity is being peeled off.



According to the sequence, from hexagram Qian1 (15) (where line 6 undertakes to dispatch troops to conquer the manor) to Fu (24), there are ten hexagrams; this means that hexagram Fu will take ten years to recover if line 6 acts willfully. Compared to seven days, ten years is a very long time.

Commentary on the image: The misfortune of stray Fu (return), (which is due to the fact that) it contravenes the norm of the king.

The winter solstice is the day that darkness reaches its peak and light is returning, i.e. the day that all life starts to revive. Therefore the late king stopped all activities on the winter solstice to give his people the opportunity to recuperate, as stated in the commentary on the hexagram image. Contrarily, line 6 dispatches the troops; this is against Nature and will cause disaster.

Enlightenment through six six: not to obstinately adhere to an error; a butcher will become a Buddha the moment he drops his cleaver; repentance is salvation. If people live without goodness and act willfully according to what they intend, it will cause both a natural disaster and man-made calamity. They will lose completely and can never recover. If this line changes to masculine itself, the hexagram will appear as Yi2 (27), to nourish, where persisting in righteousness will lead to auspiciousness.