42 Yi4



The lower: Zhen (to move, thunder). The upper: Xun (to enter, the wind).

Yi: to enrich (or to increase); to benefit those below






Decrease (Sun) continues non-stop to extremity; it will transform into increase. Therefore Yi is granted. Hexagram Yi is the reverse hexagram of Sun (41). The oracle bone script of yi2 depicts water (shui3) pouring into a container (min3), which suggests an increase (of water). Yi of hexagram 42 is annotated as to enrich and exhibited in the form of masculinity increasing. The masculine line at the bottom of the upper trigram Qian2 (perseverance, heaven) of hexagram Pi (12) descends to position 1 to increase the masculinity of the lower trigram Kun1 (submissiveness, earth), showing that the masculinity of the one above is diminished for the benefit of the one below, i.e. a type of gain as it is an enrichment from high society to low society, and from the governor to the civilian population. Therefore hexagram Yi is signified as (those above diminish themselves so as) to enrich (those below). Hexagram Yi and Sun (41) are mutually reversed; therefore to enrich the people and to diminish them is the beginnings of a cycle of prospering and declining.




The inner hexagram of Yi is Bo (23), to peel off, wherein the masculine has been being peeled off, one after another; hence the enrichment of masculinity is required. Its changing hexagram is Heng (32), to endure or be long-lasting, signifying that those above enriching those below lay the groundwork for a long relationship. Conversely (i.e. when Yi is the changing hexagram of Heng), the long-lasting relationship between masculine and feminine results in the increase (of life).


Text: 益:利有(have)(place)(go),利涉(wade)(great)(river)

Yi (to enrich): It is advantageous (or appropriate) to go somewhere; it is instrumental in crossing a great river.

Commentary on the text: Yi (to enrich): It signifies to diminish the one above so as to enrich the one below; people are endlessly joyous.  Enrichment coming from the one above down to the one below; the norm of hexagram Yi greatly radiates.  It is advantageous (or appropriate) to go somewhere; there is a celebration thanks to the axle centres (i.e. lines 5 and 2) acting righteously.  It is instrumental in crossing the great river; the norm of wood (signified by the upper trigram Xun, i.e. those above) is therefore carried out.  The virtue of hexagram Yi is exhibited in a way that Yi moves (as the lower trigram Zhen does) and then Xun like the wind; it progresses daily without boundaries.  Heaven procreates the whole of Creation and earth nourishes them; Yi reaches every direction.  As long as it conforms to the norm of Yi, it can be carried out thoroughly all the time.

Text explanation:

Enrichment from the one above, i.e. the ruler, brings joy to the one below, the one ruled; the norm of hexagram Yi is greatly radiating. It is advantageous (or appropriate) to undertake what is intended because lines 5 and 2, the one above and the one below, correlate with each other according to the principle of moderation and righteousness; the enrichment of which will lead to a celebration as both will be happy with the result. It is instrumental in carrying out a dangerous and arduous mission, which will significantly influence the future, such as crossing a great river, as the one above behaves like the wood of the upper trigram Xun, which facilitates the task of crossing the river.

Hexagram Yi is actuated by the lower trigram Zhen and travels far and wide with the wind of the upper trigram Xun, so enrichment can be carried out daily and will progress without limits.




The heavens provide sunlight and rain; the soil and air of the earth bring forth all life. This enrichment from nature proliferates from season to season, ever cycling. In the same way, the norm of enrichment from those above to those below can be practiced continuously.

Commentary on the image: Wind and thunder: Yi.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, imitates goodness once he sees it, and rids himself of wrongdoing whenever he can.

The lower trigram Zhen is thunder and the upper trigram Xun, the wind. The thunder travels far with the wind, and the wind gains prestige alongside the thunder. Thunder and wind increase their effects when travelling together. A gentleman understands this additive effect; he always follows goodness so as to enhance his virtue, and corrects himself immediately before faults grow worse.


The one above diminishes himself to enrich the one below, so the one below will feel joyful in following the one above. Through a concerted effort, the aspiration of the one above (i.e. to enrich the one below) and the desire of the one below (i.e. to follow the one above in realising their mission) can be carried through. Hence it is advantageous (or appropriate) to undertake what is intended, and it is instrumental in overcoming all difficulties standing in the way of their goals.

The virtue of hexagram Yi is seen in the advantage gained when those above enrich those below. It is instrumental for those above to undertake what they intend; it signifies that the outcome will be win-win.

Hexagram Yi is signified as gain and suggests production. According to Xi Ci Zhuan (Confucian commentary on the text tagging), the image of hexagram Yi suggests ploughing land; thus it is a hexagram of agriculture and suggests harvest.

Hexagram Yi also suggests that a person should emulate those who are better and not repeat previous mistakes. Its changing hexagram is Heng (32), to endure and be long-lasting, signifying that an enduring relationship after enrichment will be successfully launched.






Those above diminish themselves to enrich those below; those above here refer to the governor, the managerial level etc. while those below are civilians, staff etc. From the viewpoint of ruling a country, worshiping the Cosmic Ruler to bless the people, rescuing them from natural disasters, and moving the capital for greater prosperity are all undertaken with a view to benefiting the people.

Line 1 is the founding line. It can be successful (in achieving the great mission of enriching those below) if support from those above is secured. Line 2 must cherish the enrichment like treasuring a valuable tortoise, which is what the king receives from his people and uses to worship the Cosmic Ruler thereby obtaining blessings for his people. The enrichment must be carried out in a fair and open manner, similar to what is done at position 3, or according to the contributions of those below. Line 5, the host line and king, dominates all the means of enrichment and realises the people’s wishes. Line 4, the courtier who is in charge of enrichment, must devise a long-term welfare plan. Line 6, the regime at the shrine's position, will be attacked if it doesn’t fulfil its commitment to enrich those below.

Lines 1 and 4 must work together if they are to achieve something great. Lines 5 and 2, the king and the people, will both benefit in the time of those above enriching those below; there-fore the task must be carried out with sincerity and trust. Line 3 is badly in need of enrichment, while line 6 doesn't keep its commitment. The masculinity of line 3 goes to position 6, the country or the regime, in hexagram Sun (41). It goes without saying that the country should provide aid when the people are experiencing misfortune; it could be stricken if it doesn't take care of its people.

The feminine line is apt to be enriched because it is void and feeble, while the masculine position can keep the enrichment firmly and for a long time as it is solid.


The 1st line

Text: 利用(use, act)(do, make)(large, great)(work),元吉, 无咎。

It is advantageous to make use of the enrichment from those above to undertake a great task, which must be of great auspiciousness, and then there will be no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

In the time of enriching those below, it is advantageous to make use of assistance from those above in order to undertake what is intended. However, where a vitally important task is concerned, it requires great auspiciousness, i.e. full support from those above must be ensured; then there will be no calamity or fault.

Line 1 is the founding line; it comes from the upper trigram Qian2 of hexagram Pi to enrich the lower trigram Kun1. The masculine is signified as largeness while trigram Kun1 is where the enrichment will take place; as soon as the lower trigram Zhen, to move, is formed by line 1, the great task of enrichment will begin.

Commentary on the image: There must be great auspiciousness and then there will be no calamity (no fault), signifying the one below is incapable of undertaking an important task.

Although line 1 is delegated to enrich those below, it is less capable at the outset of enrichment, i.e. it is unable to accomplish a great task alone (such as moving the state) as it lacks knowledge of how to do. Therefore it is auspicious if line 1 can obtain support from those above, i.e. line 4; then there will be no calamity or fault.

Enlightenment through nine one: to act with the support from those above. In the time of those above enriching those below, it is advantageous to make use of the assistance from those above to accomplish something great; however one can only be free from fault or calamity after great auspiciousness, i.e. full support from those above. If this line changes to feminine, it will lose correlation with line 4; then it can do nothing but look upward at those above, as the hexagram becomes Guan (20), to observe.


The 2nd line

Text: 或益之十朋之龜,弗克違,永(forever)貞吉。王(king)(use)(offer sacrifice)(to)(the Ruler of the Cosmos),吉。

The subject is in a state as if Yi (to enrich) by endowing it with a very valuable tortoise, which it cannot refuse; to persist forever is auspicious.  The king uses it (i.e. the tortoise) to worship the Cosmic Ruler; this is of auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

One is enriched with a highly valued tortoise, which cannot be refused; one cherishes it and keeps it near so that it will lead to auspiciousness. The precious tortoise was given to the king by his people at position 5 of hexagram Sun (41); the king now uses it to worship the Cosmic Ruler so his people will be blessed in return; this is auspicious for the king as well, as he is well aware of what has been taken from the people and what must be used for their benefit.

The tortoise's shell was an oracular tool in ancient China and therefore sacred and valuable. The tortoise's shell is rigid on both sides while its flesh is tender in the middle, similar to the image formed between lines 1 and 5 after the masculine line of the original trigram Qian2 descends to position 1 to enrich the lower trigram.




Line 2 is the feminine at the position of feminine and occupies the core position of the lower trigram representing those below. It deserves to be enriched, and its feminine (void) instinct is apt to gain that which is granted; however the feminine (tender) position is a place where maintaining enrichment for any duration will be difficult. Therefore the enrichment must be scrupulously maintained, like cherishing a valuable tortoise; then it will be auspicious.

Line 5 is the masculine at the position of masculine and at the core position of the upper trigram; this signifies that it possesses sufficient masculinity and is obligated to enrich those below. It is at the king’s position and represents the inner upper trigram Gen (keeping still, the mountain). So it is associated with the hand, in this case acting like a king holding a tortoise. The lower trigram Zhen here is the Cosmic Ruler (as trigram Zhen is Spring, where all life is created), and the contour from line 1 to 5 is also similar to that of hexagram Yi2 (27), to nourish, so the tortoise is offered to the Cosmic Ruler by the king as a sacrifice. Therefore when the tortoise returns to it with blessings, line 2 is enriched.




Commentary on the image: Line 2 is in a state as if Yi (to enrich) by endowing it with a very valuable tortoise, which is coming from the exterior.

Enrichment comes from the exterior signifying that it is from the external trigram, i.e. those above. Although the tortoise is originally from those below, the king adds his blessing to benefit his people.

Enlightenment through six two: be humble and devout in receiving what is offered. One is enriched by a very valuable tortoise, which cannot be refused; to cherish it and keep it is auspicious. The tortoise was given to the king by his people as a form of enrichment; he uses it to worship the Cosmic Ruler to secure blessings for his people in return; this is auspicious for the king (i.e. one who enriches others) as well. The hexagram that appears when this line is activated becoming masculine is Zhong Fu (61), sincerity and trust radiating from a humble heart, which presents a tortoise that covers the entire hexagram.


The 3rd line

Text: 益之用凶事(affair),无咎。有孚中(middle)(do, walk),告公用圭。

Yi (to enrich) it (i.e. the subject) must be carried out as undertaking an ominous task, which will lead to no fault (or calamity) The task must be executed with sincerity and trust and by acting in the middle, and what has been done must be announced to the public (or reported to the court) (告公) through a jade tablet ().

Text explanation:

To execute the job of enrichment is like tackling an ominous task which must be carried out cautiously, with mercy and fairness; this is like rescuing people from floods or drought as the task involves people badly in need of enrichment. Fair and impartial distribution of aid and resources must be done with sincerity and trust, and open to public scrutiny. Then the task can be implemented, free from fault and calamity which could be caused by discontent or rancour. gong1 of gao4 (to report to the public) originally signifies fair distribution (to all involved); it can also be interpreted as “the public or the court” or the highest-rank official in ancient China.

Line 3 is at the position full of ill omens. It is a feminine line in a masculine place; the feminine is void and apt to be enriched, while the masculine is rigid and holds tenaciously to what it obtains. Therefore it deserves to be enriched and can firmly hold on to what it receives. Line 6, in correlation with line 3, is the one designated to enrich it. If line 6 descends with masculinity, the inner lower and the upper trigram will become Kan (the abyss, water), peril, which will lead line 6 to calamity. On the other hand, line 3 will leave calamity, as if rescued.




Trigram Kan also signifies sincerity and trust; after their positions are exchanged, line 3, i.e. the original line 6, becomes its representative line and stays in the middle of a hexagram, signifying it possesses sincerity and trust and acts in the middle, i.e. impartially. As line 6, in correlation with line 3, is at the position of the shrine, i.e. the country, it can report what it has done to the government or public in the position of a competent authority; then the task of enrichment is accomplished without fault and calamity. The jade tablet ( gui1) is an elongated pointed tablet that was held by ancient rulers on ceremonial occasions and represented the status of the person who held it; it was often used to authenticate communication at a distance.

Commentary on the image: Yi (enrichment) undertakes an ominous task, signifying what line 3 engages in is to solidify what it originally possesses.

Rescue resources originally came from the people; therefore they must be used for the people when they are in need to restore what they possessed before.

In hexagram Sun (41), line 3 is among those below and delivered its masculinity to enrich those above; here its masculinity is returned and recovered in the form of enrichment. 

Enlightenment through six three: be impartial, sincere and trustworthy, as well as open in your undertakings. The one in want of enrichment had previously diminished himself to enrich those above in hexagram Sun; now he needs help from those above. The enrichment must be done with caution, like undertaking an ominous task, as fair distribution of resources is involved. The job must be done in a transparent manner, impartially, sincerely and with trust. If this line is activated accordingly, it will change to masculine (i.e. enriched line 3) and the hexagram will become Jia Ren (37), the household. Here we see a harmonious state as all its members act righteously at their positions and are friendly to each other.


The 4th line

Text: 中行,告公從(follow)。利(be instrumental in)(act)(for)(depend on, paraphrased here as that which is dependable)(move)(state, capital)

The subject ought to act in the middle, and to announce its plan to the public for their following.  It is instrumental in undertaking to move the state for the purpose of relocating the capital to a place that is more dependable.

Text explanation:

To communicate with those above and those below, and to announce plans to the public for their understanding and support is instrumental for crucial undertakings.

To relocate the capital was one of the most important and difficult tasks in ancient times. It was done either to promote development or avoid calamity, i.e. moving to a place with greater resources, or where people would be safe from natural disasters or military threat.

Feminine line 4 is the one of which the masculinity was sent down to enrich the lower trigram. It stays in the middle of the hexagram signifying that it acts between those above and those below. In other words it occupies the courtier’s position, sustains line 5, the king, and correlates with line 1, the commoner. Its masculinity, sent to the lower trigram, forms trigram Zhen, to move. By correlating with line 1, it moves the inner lower trigram Kun1, the people and land, like driving a state.



Commentary on the image: Line 4 ought to announce its plan to the public for their following, by virtue of which it is able to enrich (Yi) aspiration (i.e. to facilitate the realisation of aspiration).

Enlightenment through six four: be a good bridge for communication and do what is good as regards long term benefit. The person in charge of enrichment must shuttle between those above and below in order to work out a plan, and he must announce his plan to the public so people will understand and follow. What he does is instrumental as regards a serious and beneficial mission, such as moving the capital to a freer and safer location, or where greater resources are available. Such a long term project undertaken for future benefit is preferable to empty political gestures just to please the people. If this line changes back to masculine and loses correlation with line 1, the hexagram will become Wu Wang (25), which suggests not thinking or doing what is undeserved.


The 5th line

Text: 有孚惠(favour)(heart),勿(not)(ask)元吉。有孚惠我(my)(virtue)

Sincerity and trust favour the heart; there is no need to ask as it is of great auspiciousness.  Sincerity and trust favour my (kingly) virtue.

Text explanation:

To favour the heart signifies to enrich the heart by having its wish granted. Line 5 at the king’s position sincerely enriches those below by granting their wishes according to what has been promised; it goes without saying how auspicious this is. Those below will use their sincerity and trust to enrich his virtue when repaying his kindness.

Line 5 is the host line and directs all other lines to act in compliance with the norm of hexagram Yi. Line 5 delegates line 4 to enrich the lower trigram, and will also urge line 6 to fulfil its commitment. Once the masculinity of line 6 is sent to position 3, the upper and the inner upper trigram will become Kan (the abyss, water), sincerity and trust. Lines 5 and 2, two axle centres (of the upper and the lower trigrams) at their right positions, moderately and righteously correlate with each other following sincerity and trust, signifying that the king sincerely and in a trusting manner enriches his people according to what is required of him. This wins the hearts of his people and they will sincerely repay him with the utmost reverence and trust.




Commentary on the image: Sincerity and trust favour the heart; there is no need to ask.  Sincerity and trust favour my (kingly) virtue, whereby aspiration is very successfully realised and one will enjoy what is achieved.

Trigram Kan represents aspiration as well; the upper and the inner upper trigram Kan appear, thus the aspirations of those above and below are realised.

Enlightenment through nine five: Both the donor and recipient will benefit. To sincerely and with trust enrich others by making their wishes realised is greatly auspicious. This will enrich one’s virtue as well since one will be sincerely paid back with the utmost reverence and trust. This way one can win the support of those below and realise one's aspiration as well. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated and becomes feminine (i.e. its masculinity is given to those below) is Yi2 (27), to nourish. Here those above is obligated to provide those below with food (or jobs) while those below must repay virtue (or contributions) to those above.


The 6th line

Text: (not)益之(the objective of a third person, i.e. those below or line 6),或(perhaps)(hit)之。立(establish)(heart, intention)勿恆(a long time),凶。

The state is not Yi (to enrich) it, perhaps to strike it.  The resolution is inconsistent; this is of an ominous omen.

Text explanation:

The enrichment from those above to those below is only of value when it endures. Line 6 reaches the end of the hexagram, where the norm of hexagram Yi changes. One is unable to keep one’s commitment. As a result, this might incur an attack; this is ominous.

If line 6 changes to feminine (i.e. to hide its masculinity in order to avoid giving it away or acquire more masculinity), it will be attacked. The contour of the lines from 1 to 5 is similar to that of trigram Li (clinging, fire), the weapon, and the inner upper trigram Gen denotes a hand. Line 5, the king and host line of Yi, grasps the weapon to strike line 6 as its greed would make those above (of the upper trigram) become trigram Kan, the bandit.




Or the text can be understood this way: when enrichment reaches the upper extremity, a person gets used to it and is greedy for more. No one will enrich him, they will attack him instead. As regards endless demand, Confucius gave his remarks in Xi Ci Zhuan (the commentary on the text tagging): A gentleman must prepare himself and be sure of success before taking action, (and) pacify his heart before talking to others, (as well as) establish friendship before asking for a favour. A gentleman will become faultless after he accomplishes these three self-cultivations. While (he is) acting in peril, people won’t join; while (he is) frightening others with words, people won’t respond; with demands but no friendship, people won't give anything. No one is with you, and then those who will hurt you approach.

Commentary on the image: Not Yi (to enrich) it: it is one-sided expression.  Perhaps to strike it: the attack coming from the exterior.

Not only will no one enrich it, it might be attacked as well. The attack comes from line 5 as it is in the external trigram as signified above. The attack should not come from those of the lower trigram (which would be regarded as rebellion, but line 5, the king, could make use of the force below). Beyond its literal meaning, attack from the exterior also suggests that anyone might attack.

Enlightenment through nine six: 1) to keep one's commitment to the last, or 2) to avoid insatiable desire. In the time of those above enriching those below, a person is designated to enrich those below but doesn’t keep his commitment; thus any and all might attack him, which is ominous. Or, a person gets used to enrichment and becomes insatiable; no one will enrich him but instead attack, which is ominous. If this line is activated accordingly, it will changes to feminine and the hexagram will become Zhun (3), difficult to initiate. Here it will perish as it receives no masculinity.





 Some words such as xiongshi4 (an ominous task), you3 (to have) fu2 (sincerity and trust, or capture), zhongxing2 (to act in the middle, or to walk on the way), gao4 (to announce or inform) gong1 (public or the highest-ranking nobleman) and qianguo2 (to move the state by relocating the capital), in the texts of lines 3 and 4 are rather confusing. Although the above paraphrases match the spirit of hexagram Yi, a further understanding might be reached by tracing the historical events below.

According to the written record of Zhou’s history, Zhou moved its capital twice. Owing to the constant harassment of the Rong Di tribe (戎狄), their ancestors were led by Chieftain Ku-kung Tan-fu (古公亶父) moving to the plains at the foot of Mt. Qi (岐山). The second move (from Mt. Qi to Feng Jing ()) was undertaken by Duke Ji Chang (姬昌, commonly known as King Wen of Zhou, a posthumous title given by his descendants). The purpose was to be closer to the civilised area of the ancient China and to facilitate an attack against the Shang. However, according to the texts, the reference to moving the capital likely refers to the one which took place after the dynasty of Zhou was established. As Feng Jing was in the west of the ancient China, King Wu of Zhou () planned to build a secondary capital at Lou Yi (洛邑) nearing the state centre. However he died shortly after he overthrew King Zhou of Shang (紂王)

To eliminate the remaining influence of the Shang's noblemen, Zhou Gong Dan (周公旦) was ordered by his nephew, King Zhen of Zhou (周成王), to move them from the old capital Chao Ge (朝哥) of Shang to Luo Yi and monitor them there after conquering the rebellious brothers and ex-prince of Shang (see the postscript of hexagram 15, the last paragraph).

The text of lines 3 and 4 can be interpreted as follows:

Line 3: To enrich it (like) undertaking an ominous task refers to the hardship of the Shang’s noblemen when moving to Luo Yi. While it entailed separation from their clan and detention in Lou Yi, it was good for them; no calamity signifies that they were free from the threat of extermination. Zhou Gong Dan acquired captives (you3 fu2), the escaping noblemen, and was walking (them) on the way back to Chao Ge. Gong (, the noble title of Zhou Dan) was informed (gao4) by the jade tablet, which here is regarded as a token of the king’s order.

Line 4: While the captured noblemen of Shang were walking on the way back to Chao Ge, they (, the public) were informed (gao4) to follow (the order and to move to Luo  Yi); it is advantageous to undertake and act according to the order of moving the state (of Shang).

Zhou Gong Dan told the noblemen of Shang: “I have no intent to kill you as you submit to Zhou. You will get a new home and life after you move to Luo Yi. However, if you can not keep your heart constant, I will punish you.” This is similar to the text of line 6: Not to enrich it, perhaps to strike it; the resolution is inconsistent, which is of an ominous omen.