46 Sheng1

The lower: Xun (to enter, the wind). The upper: Kun (submissiveness, earth)

Sheng: to rise; to lift in a tender and opportune manner






People will be in the higher positions after joining those at the top. Gathering together (Cui) and then (getting developed) upward signifies to rise; therefore Sheng is granted. Sheng () in Chinese signifies to rise. Sheng is the reverse hexagram of Cui, to gather together (as around a gravitational centre), while Sheng of hexagram 46 is signified as not to come, as it won’t come (down along the timeline) while it is rising.

  The lower trigram Xun is wood, and the upper trigram Kun is earth. The germinated seed attempts to leave the ground and growing higher; however the young plant cannot subsist without earth. This is the rising phenomenon of hexagram Sheng.

Sheng is a hexagram that describes the upward development of talented and able people. It is a tender rise as the young plant can't be pulled up (from earth) to hasten its growth. Its changing hexagram is Wu Wang (25), no misbehavior, signifying one should not think and do anything undeserved after having ascended to a higher position. Conversely, a lack of pretence and expectation are required when talented and able people seek promotion. Its inner hexagram is Gui Mei (54), the younger sister taking the role of concubine to her older sister’s husband. This suggests a willingness to take on the role of subordinate, i.e. to rise with no ambition, no expectation of becoming the leader.


Text: Sheng (to rise), (which entails and offers) great and smooth progress; (the subject ought) to make use of seeing a great lord, (with) no need to worry; it is auspicious to undertake a venture toward the south.

Commentary on the text: Tender Sheng (rise) in accordance with time (i.e. the situation at each moment).  (Hexagram Sheng exhibits its virtue in the form of) Xun (i.e. the modesty and obedience of the internal trigram) and then being submissive (like the external trigram Kun, to the situations at the exterior); (the one of) rigidity (i.e. line 2) is moderate and has correlation; hence, great and smooth progress.  (The subject ought) to make use of seeing a great lord, (with) no need to worry; there will be a celebration.  It is auspicious to undertake a venture toward the south; aspiration will be carried out.

Text explanation:

The lower trigram Xun is tender as it is a feminine trigram, and it denotes a young plant. The young plant grows high (i.e. rises) in accordance with time, signifying the fruit falls in autumn and is dormant under the ground in winter; when the spring comes it will sprout through the upper trigram Kun, the earth. The inner upper trigram Zhen (to move) is spring.




The internal trigram Xun of hexagram Sheng possesses modesty and obedience as its feminine line prostrates itself beneath two masculine lines. At the same time, the external trigram Kun is signified as submissiveness, which acts according the situation from moment to moment. Therefore a person must behave in the same way to assure great and smooth progress in his rising up.

Line 2, a masculine axle centre is a talented and moderate person in correlation with line 5, a high-ranking person who can influence the future of others. Line 2 receives a response from it; therefore there will be great and smooth progress if line 2 can make use of the opportunity to rise.

It need not worry, rather it may celebrate, signifying that although the rise of line 2 is the one below, the large and strong masculine, approaching the one above, the great lord but small and weak feminine, the move from position 2 to 5 is done moderately as the principle of moderation is available in both places. As a result, line 2 shifts to position 4 (and exchanges positions with line 4) to avoid the hexagram becoming Jian (39), difficulty (in proceeding). Line 4 is the representative line of the inner upper trigram Li (clinging, fire) which is located in the south. Then the hexagram appears in the form of Xiao Guo (62), slightly overdoing in righting oversteps, which is an enlarged image of trigram Kan (the abyss, water), aspiration. This is worthy of celebration, and taking aggressive action toward to the south is auspicious as the aspiration (of rising) is exhibited and realised in a way of a fledging bird starting to fly.



The south, in China, is sunny and well suited for growing plants. It is also the direction in which the king faces. In traditional architecture, the main gates of houses faced south; therefore it is the direction of facing the outside world when people leave their houses. The upper trigram Kan (which is located in the north) appears when line 2 moves to position 5; this suggests that it goes north to see the great lord and seek rise. While it shifts south to position 4, it attains true rise, signifying that it rises to a higher position but won't offend those above or make them feel uneasy and insecure.

Commentary on the image: To grow a tree in the midst of earth; Sheng.  A gentleman, in accordance with this, acts with the virtue of submissiveness (following a natural course) to build up small accomplishments (i.e. small efforts and merits) in order to realise the high and large (i.e. a great achievement).

A tree grows in accordance with the seasons, like a young plant sprouting from earth in spring and flourishing in summer after it is dormant under the ground in winter. A gentleman, in accordance with this, is mindful of the timing and sequence of his actions. In this way he will achieve his goals.


Great and smooth ascendance requires a modest and obedient interior, as well as actions with a breadth of virtue and in accordance with the times. Taking the opportunity to see a great lord signifies that a person can make use of the assistance of those who are able to influence his future; he needs not to worry as long as he can exhibit his talent and ability and acts with the principle of moderation. It is auspicious to bravely make himself visible to the person who can provide assistance. He may also occupy a position suited to his development or take aggressive action outwardly, including toward the south.

Hexagram Sheng has the virtues of origination and smooth progress (expressed in the form of great and smooth progress) but excludes those of advantage and persistence (i.e. benefit and preservation) as its changing hexagram is Wu Wang (25), signifying that one shouldn’t think and do what is undeserved after having been promoted to a higher position.

Hexagram Sheng also suggests amassing small efforts in proper sequence so as to attain a great achievement.






The lower trigram Xun intends to rise, like a young plant growing upward. The young plant reaches toward the sun but also needs the support of earth (i.e. the upper trigram Kun). Therefore Sheng is a rise relying on assistance from above, and not permitted to supersede it.

 Owing to the call to gather in the preceding hexagram, Cui (45), the talented and able person will have the opportunity to develop upwards in hexagram Sheng. The upward development of Sheng can make use of assistance from those above but it must be done according to the conditions of the corresponding position. Line 1, the representative line of hexagram Sheng, has no access to the upper trigram; therefore it supports and makes use of the rise of masculine line 2 to reach the upper trigram. Line 2 rises with sincerity and trust, as well as with the principle of moderation as it is the large one approaching the small. Line 3 can rise freely, but it must comply with the norm of Sheng. Line 4 remains still because it is next to the king, line 5, which is the host line and offers the opportunity to rise. Line 6 must stop rising when it reaches the end. All the lines are free of ill omens as they act in accordance with the requirements at each position, i.e. phase.


The 1st line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) permitted () Sheng (rise); (this is of) great auspicious-ness.

Text explanation:

Line 1 has no access to those above (i.e. no correlate in the upper trigram) but line 2, in correlation with line 5, is friendly next to it; so line 1 makes use of the rise of line 2 by attaching to it. On the other hand, line 1 is at the position of a root which absorbs nutrients from the earth to sustain the young plant of the lower trigram Xun, to grow high. Therefore line 1 supports line 2 like the feminine sustaining the masculine, and line 2 carries it in rising as the masculine occupies the feminine. Line 1 rises with line 2 through a concerted effort, which is greatly auspicious.

Commentary on the image: Permitted Sheng (rise) and great auspiciousness, (signifying) ascent meets aspiration (of those above).

The original meaning of yun3 is trust (in a person who is employed) and its extended meaning is consent (to his request or action etc.). Permitted Sheng here can be paraphrased as: line 1 attaches to the rising line 2 because line 2 trusts it and agrees to that action; this is possible through their consensus and mutual interest.

The auspiciousness of line 1's actions is due to its rise which is in accord with the aspiration of those above, i.e. lines 2 and 3. After this line is activated (and changes), the hexagram becomes Tai (11), wherein all the masculine lines of the lower trigram Qian (perseverance, heaven) ascend together.

Enlightenment through six one: to support and make use of the rising force. To seek upward development with those above and to join forces is greatly auspicious. The changing hexagram Tai (11) is a smooth and unobstructed (as well as harmonious and peaceful) state. The difference between hexagram Sheng and Tai is that the first line of Sheng is feminine, i.e. weak; thus Sheng must take care of its foundation, i.e. its talent and capability, as well as its attitudes and means, while it is rising.


The 2nd line

Text: Sincerity and trust make it instrumental in undertaking the simple sacrificial ceremony of spring; (this is of) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

Demonstrating sincerity and trust is the best way to present oneself to those above when seeking promotion. This is like worshiping with sincerity and trust at the sacrificial ceremony of spring. In springtime seeds are newly sown and still far from the harvest; therefore the ceremony is usually held with simple offerings. The value of the ceremony doesn't depend on the sacrifice, but on the sincerity and trust of the worshiper. As long as the worshiper possesses these qualities, elaborate sacrifices aren't required and can be simplified.

Line 2 is the talented and able person in correlation with the great lord, line 5. Line 2 hasn't yet made a contribution and proven its abilities. Therefore it must rise by way of moderation. This progress is noted in the commentary on the hexagram text where the hexagram ends in the form of an enlarged Kan (the abyss, water), sincerity and trust, which ensures freedom from calamity (or fault) as its rising is the large one approaching the small.

The upper trigram Kun is seen as the dark land, i.e. the realm of the dead (ancestor), as it is purely feminine (yin) which also means shade in Chinese, while the lower trigram Xun prostrates itself devotedly beneath it. When line 2 makes use of seeing line 5, it changes the upper trigram from Kun (cattle) to Kan (the pig). It's normal for elaborate ceremonies to use cattle for the sacrifice, while simple ceremonies use a pig.



Commentary on the image: Sincerity and trust of line 2, (signifying) there is happiness.

A celebration is an event where many people feel joyful together; happiness is the joy of an individual. Differing from the commentary on the hexagram text that the aspirations of those above and below are realised, here it only concerns line 2. Happiness signifies that it has been promoted, which is due to its sincerity and trust.

Enlightenment through nine two: to act with sincerity and trust. Sincerity and trust constitute the best and simplest way to present oneself to those above when seeking promotion. Since it is a masculine rise, i.e. the large approaching the small, one will be free from calamity (or fault) if those above feels no threat. If this line changes to feminine and loses access to line 5, the hexagram will become Qian1 (15), humility, where it exhibits all the virtues that a humble gentlemen should.


The 3rd line

Text: (The subject is in a state of) Sheng (to rise) to an empty town.

Text explanation:

An empty city signifies a place where people can move with complete freedom. The text doesn’t provide any judgment, signifying that although complete freedom to rise is granted, it is a masculine rise with no principle of moderation; therefore good fortune or misfortune depends on how it performs.

The upper trigram Kun is regarded as an empty town, as Kun, land and people, is taken for the town and feminine (yin) is empty. The masculine tends to move and line 3, the representative line of the inner upper trigram Zhen (to move), is at the position for marching upward as well as in correlation with line 6 and friendly next to line 4.

Commentary on the image: (Line 3 is in a state of) Sheng (to rise) to an empty town; there is nothing to doubt.

Nothing to doubt signifies that it needn't be suspicious or worried since it is in the time of Sheng and it is designated to rise. However success usually requires the right action at the right position and at the right time.

Line 3 is in the time of rising (i.e. the timing is right), and it is at a position right to it and for marching upward to the upper trigram (i.e. the position is also right). But with no access to line 5, the great lord who facilitates rising, it must take right action.

It can move to either position 4 or 6. See the advice of lines 4 and 6. It's worth noting that hexagram Sheng is A) a tender rise with time, i.e. a modest and obedient rise in accordance with the situation at each moment. Sheng is also B) a moderate rise with sincerity and trust, like masculine line 2, the large and strong, approaching feminine line 5, the small and tender. Finally it is C) a hexagram containing (the inner) hexagram Gui Mei (54) which suggests a willingness to take on the role of subordinate, and relating to (the changing) hexagram Wu Wang (25), which signifies that one should not think and do what is undeserved (before and after promotion).

Enlightenment through nine three: to bravely advance in the norm of Sheng. One has complete freedom to rise, like moving through an empty town, which needn't cause suspicion as now is the perfect time. However, the hexagram that appears while this line is activated and changes to feminine is Shi (7), troops, where latent peril exists. This signifies that one must persist in what is righteous and have a correlation with those above. On the condition that all situations become auspicious, there will be no fault (or calamity).


The 4th line

Text: The king assigns (it) to take charge of offering sacrifices at the ceremony on Mount Qi; (this must be of) auspiciousness, (and then there will be) no calamity (or  fault).

Text explanation:

 Worshiping Heaven, or the ancestors, is usually undertaken by a king (or a chieftain). When the king is unavailable, the person assigned to take his place must be at the position next to him. It is auspicious, as the king trusts him. As well, he can become free from calamity after this becomes auspicious, i.e. after he has correctly performed the task and reassured the king. Line 4 is at the courtier's position and line 5 is the king; it must act submissively according to its position even if it has the potential to go higher. In terms of line performance, line 4 is feminine which tends to remain still; it stays in a position for resting and has no access ahead, i.e. no friendly neighbour; therefore it stops rising in the time of Sheng.

Mt. Qi (岐山) is where Dukedom Zhou had its capital and shrine. The ceremony probably refers to that held by Duke Ji Chang after he returned to his homeland following his detention at You Li (羑里).  King Zhou of Shang (紂王) trusted that Ji Chang had no ambition to enthrone himself; therefore he released Ji Chang and permitted him to lead his dukedom. Ji Chang was honoured as King Wen of Zhou by his descendants after his death.

Commentary on the image: The king assign (it) to take charge of offering sacrifices at the ceremony on Mount Qi, (signifying one has) to serve (or do the task) submissively.

Enlightenment through six four: to maintain the relationship between boss and subordinate. There is no opportunity to rise further, only an honoured assignment; one must submit to the task. One can be free from calamity once all becomes auspicious. Even If this line changes to masculine, the hexagram will become Heng (32), to endure and be long-lasting, which suggests maintaining a long-lasting state through endurance and well-timed adjustments related to fixed aims.


The 5th line

Text: To persist is auspicious, (because it is) the stair of Sheng (rise).

Text explanation:

The lower trigram Xun (to enter, the wind) is signified as height, while the inner upper trigram Zhen (the thunder) is to move; the upper trigram Kun denotes earth, which here functions as a stair.



Line 5 is the host line and the great lord; by seeing him, people have the opportunity to be promoted; Line 5 must persist in offering opportunities to those below.

Commentary on the image: It is auspicious to persist (in performing) as the stair of Sheng (rise); aspiration is very successfully realised (and all will enjoy what is achieved).

Line 5 offers line 2 the opportunity to rise; once line 2 rises to position 4, the hexagram appears in the form of an enlarged Kan (the abyss, water), aspiration. The aspiration, created by the action of rising, covers both the one above and below, signifying it is fully realised.

Enlightenment through six five: to act as a stair and offer opportunities to those who are talented and moderate. It is auspicious to persist in offering advancement to those below. The hexagram that appears after this line is activated is Jing (48), the well, which inexhaustibly and unselfishly provides water to people without discrimination. Even though the bucket breaks before it reaches the top of the well, it is not the fault of the well but rather of the drawer.


The 6th line

Text: (The position is a place of) obscure Sheng (rise) (冥升); it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist in not being subdued () (by the masculine).

Text explanation:

The next hexagram Kun4 (47) is a state of being besieged; an unchecked rise will definitely lead to ‘being besieged’ at its highest point where there is no road in front. A person should not become arrogant and overly-ambitious after reaching the top; he should not seek to rise continually, rather he should remain still and tender, i.e. less active and humble.

Feminine line 6 rises to the highest point; it becomes faint at such a great height (because the feminine is weak) and won't seek to rise higher. It is appropriate for it to persist in remaining still (following the feminine inclination) and not to be subdued, i.e. not replaced by masculine line 3 in correlation with it, as masculine tends to move and will keep on rising.

ming2 of 冥升sheng means a state of light being shaded, wherein the norm of hexagram Sheng becomes unclear and people lose their direction.

Commentary on the image: (Line 6 is in a state of) obscure Sheng (rise) at the top; (it ought) to overpower () (masculine) rather than to be wealthy (like masculine).

The I Ching's term for the relationship between masculine Yang and feminine Yin, xi2 (to cease) is signified as (masculine Yang) subduing (feminine Yin), and xiao1 (to vanish) is (feminine Yin) overpowering (masculine Yang). Additionally, masculine Yang is solid and solidity is signified as wealth, i.e. pride and malevolence. Therefore line 6 must remain feminine instead of being replaced by the masculine.

Enlightenment through six six: to remain humble and less ambitious. One should avoid becoming proud and overly-ambitious after having been lifted to a high position. It is appropriate (or advantageous) not to be subdued by arrogance and malevolence. The hexagram that appears when this line is activated and changes to masculine is Gu (18), long-standing bad practice, i.e. ceaseless rising, while its mission is to remove the bad practice.