40 Xie4

The lower: Kan (the abyss, water). The upper: Zhen (to move, thunder).

Xie: to alleviate (difficulty, peril or a crisis, etc.), or to dispel or dissolve (that which causes difficulty, peril or a crisis etc.)






Things cannot be in difficulty (Jian3) forever; therefore Xie is granted.  Xie signifies alleviation. depicts using a knife (dao) to cut an ox (niu2) horn (jiao3) into halves and is pronounced jie3. In Chinese culture the ox horn is referred to as a predicament; therefore Jie3 also suggests removing (an obstacle), or resolving (a crisis), or delivering (people from the predicament). When it is pronounced xie4, it signifies to alleviate. of hexagram 40 is annotated as: to alleviate the strained circumstances by dispelling evil or repelling villains (i.e. removing them from their posts) thereby easing a crisis and delivering people from difficulties. Xie is the reverse hexagram of Jian3; Jian3 of hexagram 39 signifies difficulty, while Xie of hexagram 40 means alleviation (of difficulty).

The upper trigram Zhen is thunder, and to move, while the lower trigram Kan is water and peril. The thunder is booming above and it is raining below; rain accompanied by thunder is an image of drought being alleviated. Trigram Zhen moves forth and the peril of trigram Kan falls behind, which indicates that the peril has passed.

The inner hexagram of Xie is Ji Ji (63), completion, wherein all the lines are at their right positions and in correlation with one another, which is the true significance of Xie. Its changing hexagram is Jia Ren (37), the household, where all the members act righteously at their positions and get along with one another in harmony. Although the household of hexagram 37 undergoes the alienation of hexagram Kui (38) and the difficulties (in advance) of hexagram Jian3 (39), it finally reaches hexagram Xie, where all difficulties end and are relieved.


Text: (be advantageous or appropriate)西南(southeast)(no)(place)(go)(third person pronoun)(come back)(recover)(there be)(place)(earliness)

Xie (alleviation): It is advantageous (or appropriate) to be in the southwest.  Not to go anywhere if there is no crisis: to return and recover is auspicious.  To go somewhere when there is a crisis; to arrive early is auspicious.

Commentary on the text: Xie (alleviation): It exhibits its norm in the form of encountering peril of the lower trigram Kan and reacting by means of movement of the upper trigram Zhen; to move and then the peril will be averted, which signifies Xie.  Xie: It is advantageous (or appropriate) to be in the southwest where trigram Kun1 abides; it will obtain multitude by going forth.  To return and recover is auspicious, by which it (i.e. line 2) attains the middle position of the lower trigram Kan.  To go somewhere when there is crisis and to arrive early is auspicious; there is merit achievable by going forth.  Heavens and earth are in a state of Xie, and then it starts thundering and raining, so that all plants break through their seed covers and root in the soil.  In the time of Xie an appropriate action is momentous.

Text explanation:

Not to act but to remain vigilant when there is no crisis; on the other hand, to take quick action once a crisis develops, and not to wait until it is out of control.

The evolution of hexagram Xie starts from hexagram Zhun (3), difficult to initiate (wherein grasses have difficulty in sprouting from the ground). Line 1 of hexagram Zhun goes to the upper trigram Kan, peril, and arrives at position 4 which is located at the inner lower trigram Kun1 (submissiveness, earth); Kun1 is in the southwest and suggests submissively following the trend of the times, and tenderly accommodating the whole of creation with unbounded virtue. After that, the peril of the upper trigram Kan disappears, and hexagram Cui (45), gathering together, is created (wherein grasses flourish around the marsh like elites gathering). Here line 4 wins the support from lines 1 and 3 as it resolves a crisis according to the norm of Kun1 when it is still in the initial stage.



After peril disappears and the crisis is resolved, line 5 of hexagram Cui moves to position 2 in the lower trigram Kun1 (in following the norm of Kun1) to avoid another crisis of conflict with line 4. Consequently hexagram Xie, alleviation, is formed, and the lower trigram becomes Kan wherein line 2 remains vigilant and committed to the principle of moderation for recovery (i.e. preparing to dispel or dissolve that which causes difficulty, peril or crisis etc. in hexagram Xie).




Kan on top of Zhen is hexagram Zhun (wherein all life is arduously birthed). The clouds are gathering above the thunder, signifying a thunderstorm is forming but has yet to pour down. Trigram Zhen of hexagram Zhun moves ahead and passes through trigram Kan. Hexagram Zhun disappears, while hexagram Xie is created in the form of rain below thunder; the drought is alleviated and the whole of creation starts to sprout. Trigram Zhen keeps on moving ahead and leaves trigram Kan.



Commentary on the image: It starts to thunder and rain: Xie.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, pardons wrongdoing and forgives offence.

The gentleman realises that the drought is over thanks to the alleviation (i.e. the restored harmony) between heaven and earth; he emulates them and forgives the wrongdoing and offence caused by other people.


Thundering and raining signifies that the drought has ended and the whole of creation starts to revive. Where the attitude of resolving crises is concerned, it is advantageous to go southwest in following the norm of trigram Kun1, i.e. to act according to the trend of the times so as to resolve crises, and to accept all people with unbounded virtue in order to receive support. If there is no crisis or nothing planned, it is auspicious to return to conserve energy and gather strength in a moderate manner, i.e. neither interference nor slackening. As for doing what is intended, or if there is a crisis, it is auspicious to act, or resolve the crisis as soon as possible.

Xie only possesses the virtue of advantage; therefore what it needs is continuous creation, smooth progress and preservation.

The changing hexagram is Jia Ren (37), the household, in which the members are in a righteous and harmonious state after alleviation.

Hexagram Xie mainly refers to promptly resolving a crisis and always remaining vigilant. It also suggests forgiveness as stated in the commentary on the image.






The crisis of drought has gone; however a new crisis is developing and needs to be resolved.

Hexagram xie4 is paraphrased as: to resolve the crisis so as to alleviate the straitened circumstances; where its lines are concerned, jian3 is signified as: to dispel evil or repel the villain which creates alienation and makes progress difficult. In other words, the subject of its lines is to resolve the crisis which is created when masculine line 5, the sovereignty, of hexagram Cui departs to position 2 causing the villain to come into power. The feminine line representing Yi here is referred to as evil instinct and taken for the villain, or it is just the ordinary people. The masculine line representing Yang here is regarded as goodness, or a gentleman, or one who eradicates the evil power of the villain.

Line 2 is the founding line that creates the lower trigram Kan and is also designated to resolve the crisis, while line 5, the one in the power centre, must stay with the gentleman and retreat from the villain to avoid being overthrown.


The 1st line

Text: 无咎

The subject will cause no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

 The text provides a conclusion (i.e. no calamity or fault) with no explanation (of why line 1 causes no calamity or fault); that is because its status is self-explanatory.

Feminine line 1 is less energetic in the beginning phase, and feminine tends to remain still. It stays at the position of masculine, and is occupied by masculine line 2 as well as being in correlation with masculine line 4 (i.e. no outer support of feminine is available). It is evil but lacks energy, and it lives in the masculine surroundings and is subdued by masculinity; therefore it won't cause calamity.

Commentary on the image: Those of rigidity and tenderness adjoin each other, signifying no calamity (or fault).

The feminine, evil, is subdued by the masculine, especially by line 2. This is just the begin-ning of a crisis; it won't cause calamity if the crisis can be properly controlled right away.

Enlightenment through six one: to eliminate a crisis when it first emerges, while it is still weak. A crisis is emerging but under control. No calamity (or fault) as the feminine, the villain or evil, is subdued by the masculine. The hexagram that forms after this line is subdued becoming masculine is Gui Mei (54), the younger sister accompanies the older sister in marriage to her brother-in-law as a concubine, signifying that masculine (goodness) is the desired goal of feminine (evil) (although polygamous marriage isn't considered social norms).


The 2nd line

Text: (field)(catch)三狐(fox)(obtain)(yellow)(arrow)貞吉

In the hunting field the subject catches three foxes , and gains a yellow arrow; to persist is auspicious.

Text explanation:

Usually the fox in Chinese legend (as in the West) is characterised as a tricky and conniving animal, i.e. the same behaviour as the villain. Line 2 captures three villains, and additionally it acquires a yellow arrow which is a very useful weapon (or means) of dispelling evil powers, such as shooting a hawk on a high wall (at position 6). To persist in carrying out the mission is auspicious.

Line 2 is the masculine line which enters the field of trigram Kun1 (submissiveness, earth) and occupies the middle position when hexagram Xie is created from hexagram Cui (45). It correlates with line 5, and stays next to lines 1 and 3, like capturing three villains from high, middle and low levels respectively.

The inner lower trigram Li (clinging, fire) denotes an arrow, and yellow is the colour of the axle centre where the principle of moderation exists. The yellow arrow is also regarded as a means, straight and sharp but aligned with the principle of moderation like the solid- and rigid-masculine line 2.



Commentary on the image: It is auspicious for masculine line 2 to persist, as it gains the principle of moderation.

Masculine line 2 enters into trigram Kun1 constituted by feminine lines, i.e. villains, and comes to be in the middle of trigram Kan, peril. However, this is still auspicious for it to persist in carrying out its mission of dispelling evil as it possesses the principle of moderation, which can facilitate long term and steady action.

Enlightenment through nine two: to subdue line 1 and maintain good relations with line 5, as well as make use of line 3 to attack line 6. At the outset of dispelling evil, one succeeds in infiltrating the villains, and enjoys a preliminary but successful achievement (of catching three foxes), and gains a means (i.e. a yellow arrow) required for resolving the crisis; it is auspicious to persist in continuing the mission in a straight-forward and sharp manner along the timeline (like shooting a arrow) but with the principle of moderation. Should this line not abide by its mandate and change to feminine, the hexagram would appear in the form of Yu (16), taking precautions against calamity, as line 4 would become one with political charisma and win all people's support.


The 3rd line

Text: (carry on the back)(as well as)(ride)(incur)(bandit)(arrive)貞吝

The subject is in a state of carrying a pack on the back and riding on a carriage, which prompts the bandit () to attack; to persist will be resented.

Text explanation:

In ancient times, those of low-rank walked on foot and carried their belongings on their back, while those of high-rank usually rode in carriages. A low-ranking person now carries his belongings on his back but rides in a carriage, which depicts him as doing something beyond his status unscrupulously, like a villain swaggering through the streets; this will cause offence. If he persists in such behaviour, this will lead to resentment as he will march on to the upper trigram, i.e. high society, through replacing the one above him (i.e. exchanging positions with line 4); as a result the upper trigram will be completely occupied by the feminine.

Feminine line 3 doesn’t stay at a position right for it. It sustains masculine line 4 like carrying a pack which suits its status. However, it rides on masculine line 2 (the carriage); this is like oppressing a gentleman in a villainous manner. Line 2 represents the lower trigram Kan, the bandit, and the inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) symbolises war, where line 3 is trapped in the middle. This signifies that it is being attacked by a bandit, much like what line 2 did to line 3 at position 2. kuo4 depicts a man (yuan2) with a weapon (pu) under a roof (mian2) suggesting invasion; the man is seen as an invader, a bandit, or an enemy etc.




Confucius said in Xi Ci Zhuan (the commentary on the text tagging): "Doesn’t the writer of Yi know about robbery? Yi states: 'Carrying a pack on the back while riding in a carriage, could prompt a robber to attack.' To carry a pack on one's back is the way of a commoner (while the carriage is transportation for nobles). When a commoner adopts the means of nobles, a bandit will think of robbing him (of his pack). When one is insolent toward those above and violent toward those below, the bandit thinks of attacking him (because of his misbehaviour). To hide the treasure slowly will incite robbery; to apply cosmetics vainly will induce harassment. Yi states: ‘Carrying a pack on the back and riding on a carriage, which prompts the robber to attack'. This is what causes the robbery."

Commentary on the image: Line 3 is in a state of carrying a pack on the back and riding on a carriage, which can also prove ugly.  It itself incurs attack, so who else can be blamed?

There are many causes that attract robbery. Line 3 behaves uglily. It incites attack, an example of trouble caused by itself.

Enlightenment through six three: 1) trouble of one's own making, which must not persist, or 2) stop evil, or the villain, before it secures power. People will incite attack and bring on their own humiliation when behaving in a way of carrying a pack on the back like a low-ranking person but riding in a carriage of high-rank and swaggering through the streets. If they persist without correction, this will lead to resentment as all those who overstep their bounds will win what they want. If line 3 is corrected (by line 2) becoming masculine, the hexagram will appear as Heng (32), marriage, which is seen here as a permanent settlement with regard to the relationship between masculine and feminine, signifying that it is assigned to terminate the villain at position 6.


The 4th line

Text: (equivalent to : you, your)(big toe)(friend)至斯孚

The subject is requested Jie (to deliver) your big toe; friends arrive thanks to this () sincerity and trust.  

Text explanation:

One should exhibit sincerity and trust in fulfilling responsibilities; friends will come due to this sincerity and trust. si originally meant (using an axe) to chop or to separate (similar to xie4) and is borrowed as a homophone of this.

Line 4 is the one that resolved the crisis of hexagram Zhun (3) and obtained major support from people; but this causes line 5 of hexagram Cui to abdicate, which creates the lower trigram Kan of hexagram Xie.

In hexagram Xie it represents the upper trigram Zhen, to move and the foot, suggesting that it walks away from the peril of the lower trigram Kan escaping its responsibility. However it is in correlation with line 1 (i.e. the subdued but not terminated evil), which is at the bottom and taken for the toes of line 4. Its toes are occupied by line 2 and its movement is impeded. It must exhibit sincerity and trust as the inner upper trigram Kan represented by it, and join with line 2 by descending to position 1 (to carry out its unfinished job). It will then approach the feminine lines above, together with the masculine line 2, like that in hexagram Lin (19), and repel the villains.



The returned line 1 is seen here as line 1 of hexagram Fu (24), return of masculine, and line 2 is the friend joining it. More and more masculine will join, one by one, like the masculine of hexagram Lin approaching the feminine along the timeline. The lower trigram Dui is taken for friendship as the waters of the marshes complement one another as friends do.

Commentary on the image: Line 4 is requested by line 2 Jie (to deliver) your toes, signifying the position which it stays at is inappropriate to it.

Line 4 isn't at its right position, i.e. a masculine line at the feminine position; after freeing the toes by exchanging positions with line 1, it will stay at its right position and act righteously. The toes are those that move ahead of the body and toward one’s goal.

Enlightenment through nine four: 1) to dispel one's own evil (thought or deed) so friends will come, or 2) to perform one's job with concerted effort. The toes are shackled due to neglecting one's duty; one must remain sincere and trustworthy in completing one’s mission; friends (support, assistance, etc.) will arrive as a result. If this line is activated accordingly, the hexagram will become Shi (7), troops, i.e. united forces.


The 5th line

Text: 君子(gentleman)(tie)(possess)有孚(sincerity and trust)(toward)小人(villain)

A gentleman is fastened to the that which possesses Jie (the means to dispel evil and repel the villain), which is of auspiciousness.  He ought to be sincere and trustworthy with the villain.

Text explanation:

After the original masculine line 5 abdicates and descends to position 2, line 5 at the king’s position becomes feminine, which is very easily affected by the villain. It should always stay with the gentleman and away from the villain, i.e. maintaining a correlation with masculine line 2, the gentleman who dispels evil and repels the villain. Line 2 also represents the lower trigram Kan, sincerity and trust; therefore if line 5 always associates with sincerity and trust, villains will retreat automatically unless they become sincere and trustworthy themselves.




Commentary on the image: A gentleman is one who possesses Jie (the intent of dispelling evil and repelling the villain); thus the villain retreats.

If a person always keeps the intent of dispelling evil in mind and acts as a gentleman, the villain won’t approach, and he will become a gentleman.

Enlightenment through six five: 1) to maintain good relations with line 2, a gentleman and one who acquires the yellow arrow, or 2) to repel the villain by means of sincerity and trust. A person always keeps the intent of dispelling evil in mind and acts as a gentleman; then the villain will retreat, and he will become a gentleman; this is auspicious. However, to avoid a backlash he must use sincerity and trust to repel the villain. If this line acts accordingly, it will change back to masculine, and the hexagram will become Kun4 (47), to be besieged. Here it exhibits its legitimacy and expresses its will through moderation but with no concession; line 4 will retreats after it perceives difficulties.


The 6th line

Text: (the duke)(act)(shoot)(hawk)(on)(high)(wall)(a preposition to mark preceding phrase as the possessive of)(top)(catch, obtain)(third person, objective case)(nothing)(not)(advantage)

The duke takes action to shoot the hawk on a high wall, and acquires it; nothing is unfavourable.

Text explanation:

The villain is conniving and dangerous; the hawk, as a raptor, is like a dangerous villain. The feminine reaches the top of the hexagram, like a hawk perching on the high wall; it is going to launch an attack and must be shot down.

The hawk on a high wall is an easy target to shoot down. The inner upper trigram Kan (the abyss, water) is the bow, and the inner lower trigram Li, the arrow; however there is no correlation between lines 6 and 3, the hawk and the arrow.




Line 3, at the duke’s position, is caught by line 2 (see line 2). After it is changed to masculine becoming the one to stop evil forever (see line 3), it shoots up the arrow by exchanging positions with line 6 as indicated below; then line 6 becomes masculine, i.e. the villain is terminated.


Confucius’s statement in Xi Ci Zhuan (the commentary on the text tagging): The hawk is a raptor, the bow and arrow are the implements (the tools) and the archer is a man. The gentleman hides the implement (or his talent) on his body and waits for the right time to take action. What disadvantage is there? (He is in a position) to act without restraining (his tool or talent); thus, once action is taken, there will definitely be something obtainable; it is the reason for having the implement (or the talent) properly prepared before taking action.

Commentary on the image: The duke takes action to shoot the hawk, so as to Xie (alleviate) the rebellion.

Shooting the hawk is to prevent it from hunting people, and repelling the dangerous villain is to prevent evil from becoming serious and out of control.

Enlightenment through six six: 1) taking the initiative to gain the upper hand, and 2) to terminate evil and remain vigilant as stated in the hexagram text. Evil reaches its upper extremity and the villain occupies the top position, like a ferocious hawk perching on a high wall; it is going to hurt people yet it can easily be shot down. A thorough settlement must be done as soon as possible when this line is triggered to move. The duke takes action to shoot the hawk and succeeds in acquiring it; there is nothing unfavourable. To end evil and repel the villain is to preclude rebellion. After the hawk is shot down and this line changes to masculine, the crisis is seemly resolved; however the mission hasn’t finished yet, since the hexagram becomes Wei Ji (64), having not completed yet, signifying that one should still remain vigilant as before. Nevertheless evil can never be exterminated and the villain always exists.