52 Gen4



The lower: Gen (keeping still, the mountain). The upper: Gen (keeping still, the mountain).

Gen: the mountain, to keep still; to move and stop when required; to attain self-restraint through self-cultivation.






Things can't always move (Zhen) and must be stopped; therefore Gen is granted.  Gen signifies to stop. Gen is the reverse hexagram of Zhen (51) which starts (action), while hexagram Gen stops (it).

Trigram Gen is composed of one masculine line above two feminine lines, presenting a significant barrier like a mountain. Like the mountain which stands still, Gen is also signified as “to keep still”.

The inner hexagram of Gen is Xie, to alleviate (40); internal relief allows it to remain still. Its changing hexagram is Dui (58), joy, signifying that one will feel true joy after self-cultivation.


Text: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on one’s back, (the stillness of which) won't reach the body; (while) walking in the courtyard, one doesn't see others, (which results in) no calamity (or fault).

Commentary on the text: Gen, (signifying) to keep still ()(Gen) stops when necessary, (but) it also moves when required to.  (If it is able) to move and stop at the right time, the norm (of hexagram Gen) radiates accordingly.  Keeping still of Gen signifies doing so when and where required to do so.  Those above and below are in a hostile correlation (i.e. no correlation), (and) do not associate with one another.  Therefore (the stillness on one's back) won't reach the body; (while) walking in the (front) courtyard, one won't see others, (which results in) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

The back is the part of the human body which is immovable; therefore Gen is imposed on one’s back signifying stopping what should be still. Other parts of the body may move freely; Gen won’t affect them. The front courtyard is where people have contact with the outer world. A person sees no other people while walking in the front courtyard, signifying that he won’t be affected by others. As a result, he will be free from calamity or fault as he acts appropriately and refrains from doing what he shouldn't do, i.e. he practices self-restraint.

Although Gen is signified as keeping still, it stops when and where required to do so. Implicit in this is that it can also move when necessary. Therefore the stopping and moving of hexagram Gen occurs at the right time, and in accordance with what is appropriate.

As all the lines of hexagram Gen lack correlation and association with each other, they won't affect other lines and won't be affected by other lines.

Commentary on the image: Two mountains are next to each other; Gen.  A gentleman in accordance with this doesn’t allow his thoughts to stray beyond his position (or his status).

Two mountains stand still next to each other, like a gentleman restraining himself, doing only that which is appropriate. He curtails undeserved desire and practices moral cultivation.

After hexagram Zhen (51) succeeds in securing its position, and hexagram Gen maintains its proper thoughts and position, then hexagram Jian4 (53) can move gradually and sequentially toward the unfinished mission. 


Hexagram Gen contains movement in its inner upper trigram Zhen (to move, the thunder); therefore it isn't completely still. It can move when needed, but it must stop when required as the prerequisite of Gen is to stop. The moving and stopping of Gen accords with the right time and what is appropriate.

To stop when required without affecting others, and acting properly without influence from others, indicates proper self-restraint. There will be no fault or calamity if one can act accordingly.

Zhen (51) is crowned; Gen inherits nothing (i.e. no virtue from hexagrams Qian and Kun). Therefore Gen pursues no fault or calamity through self-restraint.

To act in accordance with the norm of Gen can also be taken for that of stopping one’s undeserved desires and practicing moral cultivation as suggested by its commentary on the image.

The changing hexagram is Dui (58), the true joy one reaches after thorough self-cultivation, i.e. to be content with one's lot.






Appropriate moving and stopping according to outward conditions is exhibited as self-restraint attained through self-cultivation.

Lines 1 to 5 are characterized as different parts of the body. They are presented as specific behaviours associated with these parts to illustrate how a person can develop self-restraint by reforming his personality defects - for instance, blindness with impulsivity, as well as rude and rash acts. As regards self-cultivation, line 3 is the threshold. After cultivation of the heart at line 4, line 5 expresses self-restraint in words. In the end, line 6 reaches the optimal state and has all cultivations materialised in its deeds.


The 1st line

Text: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the toes, (which will lead to) no calamity (or fault); it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist to the end.

Text explanation:

Line 1 appears at the bottom of the hexagram, like the toes of a human body. Toes are the most impulsive part of the body since they always walk ahead. Stopping the toes, and therefore impulsivity, at the outset will help one avoid fault or calamity. This restraint will become even more meaningful once one persists to the end.

Line 1 is feminine at a masculine position; feminine tends to remain still but it is at an active place (like the toes), which may make it difficult for it to persist. Therefore it will be advantageous if it can last till the end.

Commentary on the image: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the toes, (which is because) it doesn’t lose righteousness.

Line 1 has just left hexagram Zhen (51), to move, and arrives at hexagram Gen, keeping still. It is at a masculine position which is not right to it. However it stops at the outset, signifying that it maintains righteousness, i.e. the norm of Gen (to stop when required).

Enlightenment through six one: 1) to practice self-cultivation, or 2) to transform impulsivity to momentum. Stopping the toes signifies halting impulsivity at the outset, which prevents fault or calamity. However this must persist throughout to be advantageous, i.e. no fault or calamity in the end. The hexagram that forms after this line changes to masculine and acts righteously is Bi4 (22), to grace (the toes), signifying to better its performance.


The 2nd line

Text: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the shanks; (the outer influence causes one) not to hold fast to () (one's own view or stand) but to follow (outer influences); unhappiness is in the heart.

Text explanation:

A person knows well enough what is right and wrong, but he can't resist the influence of others. Therefore instead of acting according to his own will, he goes along. He feels unhappy in his heart. Unhappiness in the heart indicates that he is disappointed by his blind action, although he doesn't show it on his face.

Next to the toes are the shanks; self-cultivation now is imposed on the shanks. Line 2 is at its right position; it should be able to move and stop in an appropriate manner. However it is occupied by masculine line 3, like the shanks being driven by the thighs, which overpower their own volition. zheng3 here is interpreted as holding fast to (one's own view or stand). It originally meant to uphold (one's own view or stand) and is commonly understood as rescue (as it is affected by outer influences).

Commentary on the image: Not to hold fast to (one's own view or stand) but to follow (outer influences), (signifying that) one does not retreat from hearing (what others are saying).

Line 3 represents the inner lower trigram Kan (the abyss, water) denoting the ears. Line 2 doesn't reject what is heard but follows it, which is a blind act.

Enlightenment through six two: not to be affected but continue with one's goal. With the norm of Gen one should be able to ignore others. However, like the shanks being driven by the thighs, one has no own volition and follows others. Self-cultivation is a work of the heart. It feels unhappy in the heart, signifying that it will continue practicing. If this line fails, changes to masculine and acts not righteously, the hexagram will become Gu (18), venomous insects, which bewitch people and must be destroyed.


The 3rd line

Text: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the border (), which splits the joint muscles (), (and causes) sternness and cruelty (which) suffocate () the heart with smoke.

Text explanation:

One who practices self-cultivation zigzags between stopping and moving which hurts him physically and tortures him mentally.

The border (xian4) is the junction between the upper and the lower trigrams, like the waist which connects the upper and lower body, and the joint muscles (yin2) at two sides of the waist. Line 3 at the border is the representative line of the inner upper trigram Zhen (to move) as well as the lower trigram Gen (to keep still). To move and to remain still create conflict, ripping its waist and tearing its joint muscles; thus sternness and cruelty suffocate its heart. The inner lower trigram Kan is the heart as well as peril (i.e. sternness and cruelty). xun means to treat with smoke.




Commentary on the image: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the border, (signifying that) peril suffocates the heart with smoke.

Enlightenment through nine three: stop undeserved desire and practice moral cultivation. Self-cultivation at the point between moving and stopping involves a great struggle. One's body is being torn while one's heart suffers the torture of sternness and cruelty. If this line changes to feminine, remains still and acts righteously according to the norm, the hexagram will become Bo (23), to peel off, where the still feminine almost overpowers the active masculine. The waist is the most sensitive area of the human body; what it suffers can refer to the torture of carnal desire which is the most difficult obstacle in the process of self-cultivation.


The 4th line

Text: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the body, (which results in) no calamity (or fault).

Text explanation:

The position above the waist is the torso. It is the most important part of the human body, and self-cultivation, as it houses the heart. Line 4 is feminine at the position of feminine and resting (after having marched from the lower trigram). Stillness is deserved as feminine tends to remain still. However, keeping still here refers not only to the physical but also the mental when the heart is concerned, i.e. one’s heart (i.e. thoughts and yearnings) must remain still.

Commentary on the image: Gen (keeping still) (is imposed) on the body, (which leads to a complete) stop applied to all parts of the body.

From the toes and shanks to the waist, stillness now extends to one's torso. After self-cultivation involving the constraint of impulsive and blind, as well as rude and rash acts, it arrives at the heart where all thoughts originate. There stillness succeeds in cultivating it, which affects the whole body.

Enlightenment through six four: When the key part is controlled, the rest will follow. As long as the heart is kept still, the body remains still, signifying that self-cultivation extends to the whole person. The person is reformed, and self-restraint now influences his acts. Therefore, no fault or calamity will occur. Should this line change to the active masculine and act not according to the norm, he would be in an uncertain state like journeying in hexagram Lu (56).  


The 5th line

Text: Gen (appropriate moving and stopping) (is imposed) on the jaw; words spoken are orderly, (and) regret will be gone.

Text explanation:

Talk can demonstrate self-restraint; it can lead to understanding and cooperation. However reckless talk can cause trouble and lead to calamity. Gen imposed on the jaw doesn’t mean ‘to shut the mouth’, rather it means ‘to speak properly’. This refers to the true significance of Gen, i.e. stopping speech when indicated, and refraining from speech when inappropriate. Then what is spoken will be proper and orderly, and there will be no regret.

Line 5 is the jaw which is responsible for speaking. It is a feminine axle centre, therefore it can speak tactfully and moderately.

Commentary on the image: Gen (appropriate moving and stopping) (is imposed) on the jaw, (which is achieved) by means of the principle of moderation acting as righteousness.

Line 5 is the tender feminine at the position of the rigid masculine but in the middle of the upper trigram where the principle of moderation is available. Tenderness means that it won't speak inappropriately, while the firm stance with the moderate attitude enables it to say what is proper; therefore it can attain righteousness through the principle of moderation even if it isn't at the position right for it.

Enlightenment through six five: 1) to exhibit what one has achieved, and 2) to speak in a proper and orderly way. Gen reaches the jaw, signifying that self-restraint controls what is said. Therefore words become orderly, and regret will be gone. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated, changes to masculine and acts righteously is Jian4 (53), to progress gradually and sequentially, like wild geese migrating flying in an orderly array and according to the season (i.e. at the right time).


The 6th line

Text: Honest and reliable () Gen (moving and stopping in an appropriate manner), (which is of) auspiciousness.

Text explanation:

Line 6 is the representative line of the upper trigram Gen. It persists in the norm of Gen, i.e. to move and stop appropriately, until the end. This indicates honesty and reliability, like a solid and stable mountain. Solidity and stability signify honesty and reliability (dun1hou4) in Chinese culture. Line 6 is a mountain on top of a mountain (of the lower trigram Gen). Due to its solidity and stability, it reliably realises self-restraint in an honest manner. This results in a good end, and is auspicious.

Commentary on the image: The auspiciousness of honest and reliable Gen (moving and stopping in an appropriate manner); it ends up with solidity and stability.

After step-by-step practice from position 1 to 4, self-cultivation is achieved at position 4. This development is shown in self-restraint leading to orderly words at position 5, and honest and reliable deeds at position 6.

Enlightenment through nine six: 1) to move and stop according to what is appropriate and at the right time, or 2) to consummate what one has been engaged in. To live honestly and reliably in the norm of Gen until the end is auspicious. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated, changes to feminine and acts righteously is Qian1 (15), humility. Humility (i.e. being dignified with no arrogance) is the ultimate in self-restraint.