28 Da4 Guo4 大過

The bottom: Xun (to enter, the wind). The upper: Dui (joy, the marsh).

Da Guo: large excess; the large masculine is excessive; using femininity to properly counterbalance excessive masculinity






No nourishment (Yi2) no momentum; therefore Da Gou is granted. After the masculine experiences eradication and a return through hexagrams Bo (23) and Fu (24), it learns how to act pragmatically in Wu Wang (25) and enhance itself in Da Chu (26). However, if masculinity continues to be nourished in Yi (27), it will become not only very dynamic but also excessively large, to an unbearable degree when it reaches Da Guo (28). Therefore according to Za Gua Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the paired hexagrams), Da Guo suggests the possibility of subversion, i.e. a state of being upside down due to its large excess. Yi (27), its changing hexagram, is to nourish righteousness in order to keep it upright.

Hexagram Da Guo is constituted by four heavy, masculine lines in the middle and a weak, feminine line at either end. Because the large masculine greatly exceeds the small feminine in number and weight it is named large (da4) exceeding (guo4). It shows a bending ridge-pole. Its lower trigram Xun is wood, denoting a plant, while the upper trigram Dui is the marsh. The plant grows in the marsh absorbing water; now the plant is submerged, signifying that this largely exceeds the ordinary.

 According to Xi Ci Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the text tagging), hexagram Da Guo resembles a coffin; this indicates a grave life crisis and suggests that extraordinary action must be taken.

Its changing hexagram is Yi2 (27), to nourish life. Therefore, though Da Guo relates to the loss of life, its line texts are teeming with the revival and extension of life. Its inner hexagram is Qian (1), which consists entirely of masculine lines; its reverse hexagram is the same, signifying that it is indeed a large excess.


Text: Da Guo (large excess), (presenting) a ridgepole bends, it is instrumental in going somewhere; (then this will change to) smooth progress.

Commentary on the text: Da Guo (large excess), the large one exceeds (in number and weight).  The ridgepole bends, (because) the beginning and end are weak.  Rigidity is excessive but (lines 2 and 5 are) moderate; (hexagram Da Guo exhibits its norm in the form of) Xun (prostrated in expressing humility and devotion) and joyous action (like the effect of the external trigram Dui); it is instrumental in going somewhere; (then this will change to) smooth progress.  The time period of Da Guo is momentous.

Text explanation:

 Compared with the feminine, the masculine is large. In hexagram Da Guo the large masculine greatly exceeds the small feminine in number and weight. The weak feminine is at either end, while four heavy masculine lines occupy the middle; therefore the ridgepole is bending, and immediate crisis management is required.  

Though masculinity is greatly excessive, masculine lines 2 and 5 at the axle centres possess the principle of moderation. Additionally, the internal trigram Xun exhibits modesty and devotion while the upper trigram Dui exhibits a pleasant countenance. This is instrumental in undertaking what is intended and will transform peril into safety; then smooth progress will follow.

Commentary on the image: The marsh submerges the plant; Da Guo.  A gentleman in accordance with this should not be daunted while standing alone; he should not feel dejected while living a solitary life.

The plant is submerged by the water of the marsh. This is like a gentleman being oppressed and isolated because his thoughts and deeds differ from those of others. A gentleman should hold to his own views, and not sink to the level of others, even though they greatly outnumber him and even if they are largely excessive.


The large masculine greatly exceeds (in number, weight, rigidity and strength) which causes the ridgepole to bend. This signals that a grave crisis is imminent and indicates that proper action must be taken. In the time of Da Guo, one must act moderately (even though one is excessively strong). One must also be humble internally and express joy externally; this is instrumental in solving the crisis and will lead to smooth progress.

Another attitude of Da Guo suggested by the commentary on the image is to not be afraid or dejected while one works alone toward one’s ideal.

Da Guo possesses the virtues of smooth progress and advantage, but excludes those of origination and persistence (i.e. preservation) at the beginning and end, signifying that it must seek an outlet.

Hexagram Da Guo indicates an overload and therefore suggests offsetting. This means that the excessive masculinity must be counterbalanced by femininity. It also signals a grave crisis and suggests taking extraordinary action given the extraordinary time. Its line texts are teeming with the revival of life; therefore, the hexagram becomes Yi2 (27), to nourish, once all the lines are activated and change. This signifies that life will be nourished following survival.





In the time of a large excess of masculinity, it is auspicious for the masculine lines to properly balance masculine rigidity with feminine tenderness. On the other hand, the situation will become ominous if more masculinity, such as a masculine position, is added to it.

As the upper trigram Dui is the reverse of the lower trigram Xun, the texts of each paired lines (i.e. lines 3 and 4, lines 2 and 5, and 1 and 6) are expressed as mirror images.

Masculinity is greatly excessive; thus the ridgepole bends at position 3. A balance between masculinity and femininity makes the ridgepole rise at position 4. An early recovery, like an elderly male mating with a young female at position 2, leads to a revival. However a late offset, like an elderly female mating with a young male at position 5, results in nothing. In the time of masculinity greatly exceeding femininity, feminine line 1 prudently endures the heavy load of masculine in order to avoid fault or calamity. At last masculinity is overwhelmed due to large excess reaching its extremity, but the feminine instinct tides line 6 over during the crisis.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is) using white cogon grass as a mat (), (which will cause) no fault (or calamity).

Text explanation:

Feminine line 1 stays beneath four masculine lines acting like white cogon grass laid under the greatly excessive masculinity to bear the heavy load. In the beginning of Da Guo, it prudently prepares for the burden and sincerely deals with it; there will be no calamity.

jie4 is the grass used in mats for sacrificial offerings. Trigram Xun is white and denotes wood; feminine line 1, its representative line, is taken here for white cogon grass used as a mat. Placing the grass underneath the greatly excessive masculinity expresses both prudence and sincerity.

Confucius's remarks in Xi Ci Zhuan (i.e. the commentary on the text tagging): Suppose to place that (cogon grass as a dust mat for the sacrificial offering) on the ground is appropriate. What fault is there in using the white cogon grass as a mat (for the greatly excessive masculinity)? Sincerity and prudence reach extremity. White cogon grass is a cheap material, but it can bear the heavy load. To go forth in a sincere and prudent manner won’t cause any fault. 

Commentary on the image: Using the white cogon grass as the mat, (signifying that) softness stays below.

Enlightenment through six one: be sincere and prudent when dealing with the crisis. Main-tain a sincere attitude and prudent action when dealing with a crisis or challenge. This is like laying soft, white cogon grass underneath the large excess to bear its heavy load; then there can be freedom from fault or calamity. Should this line not abide its assignment but change to heavy masculine, the hexagram would become Guai (43), (the masculine) getting rid of (the feminine), which might cause a counterattack like torrential water sweeping away everything in its path.


The 2nd line

Text: The withered poplar sprouts; an elderly man is in possession of a young wife; nothing is unfavourable.

Text explanation:

An elderly man denotes the masculine that has passed its prime becoming weak; this is another kind of large excess, i.e. masculinity exceeds (its prime). In traditional Chinese health care, there is a method called, “making use of femininity to nourish and enhance masculinity”. Medical science aside; this is evidenced by a young woman lifting the spirits of an elderly man's life and revitalizing it.

Masculine line 2 occupies feminine line 1. When its masculinity exceeds (its prime), the overshooting masculinity is offset by femininity. In other words, the elderly man becomes younger. Therefore, no matter what is done, there will be nothing unfavourable.

Lines 2 and 3 represent the old masculine, and lines 1 and 2, the young feminine. After lines 1 and 2 exchange positions, the lower trigram becomes Li which denotes a big belly, i.e. pregnancy.


Commentary on the image: An elderly man and a young wife, (signifying that) excess is (regulated) by means of associating with each other.

Line 2 is the first masculine line of hexagram Da Guo and in the place of feminine; its masculinity is comparatively weak, like the masculinity of an elderly man. By mating with the feminine, its masculinity is regulated, and it becomes a young masculine.

Enlightenment through nine two: 1) to make use of femininity to nourish and enhance masculinity, 2) to act with the right time and as early as possible. An elderly man obtains a young wife; his life is invigorated like a withered poplar tree sprouting again. Even though masculinity exceeds (its prime) and its momentum is weak, there is still some achievement attainable by an early offset. No matter what is done, there is nothing unfavourable. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated and feminine appears is Xian (31), telepathy. The telepathy between lines 2 and 5 will lead to an eternal relationship (hexagram 32, Heng), i.e. a marriage and the continuity of life.


The 3rd line

Text: The ridgepole bends, (which is) an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

Positions 3 and 4, i.e. the middle position of hexagram Da Guo, represent the location of the ridgepole. Line 3 is masculine and in a place of masculine, signifying it is excessively rigid and heavy. The weak feminine at the two ends can’t support it; therefore the ridgepole bends which is ominous.

Commentary on the image: The misfortune of the bending ridgepole, (signifying that it) can't be assisted.

The lower trigram Xun is constructed with a weak feminine at the bottom. Its top is burdened with excessive masculinity, while the bottom is weak. A correlation (i.e. a balance) with another weak feminine (line 6 above it) can't stop it from collapsing.

Enlightenment through nine three: not to be self-willed. Like an opinionated person acting in a headstrong manner, no one can help him. The ridgepole bends as its weight (i.e. masculinity) is extremely excessive; it is not possible to stop the bending as the pillars are too weak; this is ominous. It can’t be assisted no matter what is done, as the hexagram will become Kun4 (47), (the masculine) being besieged (by the feminine), if feminine appears here. 


The 4th line

Text: The ridgepole rises, (which is of) auspiciousness; (if) there is another (influence, act, etc.) (有它), this will be resented.

Text explanation:

Masculine line 4 is in a place of feminine; therefore its masculinity is reduced and it is lightened somewhat allowing the bending ridgepole to rise; this is auspicious. However feminine line 1, staying behind, is approaching. Should it be further counterbalanced by the femininity of line 1, its masculine rigidity would become weakened and it could not support the roof; this would cause resentment. In viewing the structure of the upper trigram Dui, it will decline if its base, line 4, becomes weak.  

ta of you3 (there is) is the pronoun of a third party, which is signified here as an exterior object which doesn’t exist at position 4.

Commentary on the image: The auspiciousness of the rising ridgepole, (signifying) it won’t bend toward the one below.

Enlightenment through nine four: to perform in just the right way. The crisis is alleviated (due to attaining a proper balance) as the bending ridgepole rises; this is auspicious. However if it is affected further (by another cause) and does more than what is required, it will be resented. An extraordinary action doesn't mean an excessive action but an appropriate action. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated and changes to weak feminine is Jing (48), the well, where the bucket breaks before reaching the top of the well. It is not the fault of the well but the drawer because of greed (or selfishness, etc.).


The 5th line

Text: The withered poplar blossoms; an elderly woman is in possession of a young husband, (signifying there is) neither fault (nor calamity) nor praise.

Text explanation:

An elderly woman weds a young husband; she is joyful like a withered poplar tree blossoming again, but she won’t produce new life. From the standpoint of masculine line 5, the young husband whose excessive masculinity reaches the full development of the hexagram, it must balance with femininity. Marrying an elderly woman elicits neither blame nor praise.

Line 5 is masculine in the place of masculine and reaches the climax of Da Guo; it seeks feminine line 6 for balancing. Though line 6 is an elderly woman, i.e. a feminine line at the end of the hexagram, excessive masculinity can be somewhat counterbalanced. Therefore there is no fault or calamity. However this marriage will end with no results; therefore there is no praise either.

Commentary on the image: The withered poplar blossoms, (but) how could it endure?  An elderly woman and a young husband can be also taken for that which is ugly.

The withered poplar tree blossoms but bears no fruit. The excessive masculinity (of line 5) seeks weak femininity to balance but is ridden over by the feminine (line 6), like a young husband intimidated by an elderly wife; this is ugly and won't last long.

Enlightenment through nine five: to act at the right time or make a thorough change. An elderly woman weds a young husband. The elderly woman won't bring new life, although the excessive masculinity of the young husband is somewhat counterbalanced. Therefore, there is neither praise nor blame (nor calamity). An extraordinary action is taken with minimal results as the timing is not right. The hexagram will become Heng (32), to endure and be long-lasting, if feminine appears here. It is a marriage of the eldest son and eldest daughter, i.e. a good match (i.e. balance between the masculine and feminine) which will be everlasting.


The 6th line

Text: (The subject encounters a situation of) walking through water (and the water) submerging the head, (which is) an ominous omen, (but with) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

Da Guo submerges masculinity when it reaches its upper extremity; this is ominous. The inner upper and the inner lower trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven), constituted by the excessive masculinity, denotes the head, while line 6, representing the upper trigram Dui, is the water of a marsh. The water is over their heads, signifying that all the masculine lines are deluged.


Different from the masculine, line 6 is the void feminine; it can make use of its ability to float to save itself from drowning.

The crisis of Da Guo takes place because its masculinity is greatly excessive; therefore, solving the crisis requires a balance with femininity. If line 6 can descend to position 3 to counterbalance the excessive masculinity, the lower trigram will become Kan (the abyss, water); the water will ebb and flow below the head of the upper trigram Qian.



Commentary on the image: The misfortune of walking through water, (which) can’t fault (the feminine, or calamity can’t befall the feminine).

Enlightenment through six six: making use of feminine tenderness to subdue masculine rigidity. Large excess like water submerges heavy masculine; only light feminine can survive in the end; this is ominous. The excessive masculinity needs femininity to counterbalance it. The crisis can be avoided if the heavy masculine reduces its weight and increases its ability to float, i.e. to reduce what is excessive (masculine rigidity) and increase what is short (feminine tenderness). Should this line change to masculine, the hexagram would become Gou (44), to meet (unexpectedly a vigorous female). Here it is in dire straits like entering the end of a horn. From that moment on, the masculine will be overpowered by the feminine gradually.