I-Ching Hexagram 31

I-Ching Hexagram 31 – Hsien – Influence [Wooing]


the trigram above – TUI – The Joyous, Lake
the trigram below – KEN – Keeping Still, Mountain

from The I Ching or Book of Changes by Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baynes, Hellmut Wilhelm and C. G. Jung

The name of the hexagram means “universal,” “general,” and in a figurative sense “to influence,” “to stimulate.” The upper trigram is Tui, the Joyous; the lower is Ken, Keeping Still. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to the stimulation cheerfully and joyously. Ken, the lower trigram, is the youngest son; the upper, Tui, is the youngest daughter Thus the universal mutual attractioin between the sexes is represented. In courtship, the masculine principle must seize the initiative and place itself below the feminine principle.

Just as the first part of book I begins with the hexagrams of heaven and earth, the foundations of all that exists, the second part begins with the hexagrams of courtship and marriage, the foundations of all social relationships.


Influence. Success.
Perseverance furthers.
To take a maiden to wife brings good fortune.

The weak element is above, the strong below; hence their powers attract each other, so that they unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent the joy from going to excess and hold it within proper bounds. This is the meaning of the added admonition, “perseverance furthers,” for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter, the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men’s hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.


A lake on the mountain:
The image of influence.
Thus the superior man encourages people to approach him
By his readiness to receive them.

A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.


Six at the beginning means:
The influence shows itself in the big toe.

A movement, before it is actually carried out, shows itself first in the toes. The idea of an influence is already present, but it is not immediately apparent to others. As long as the intention has no visible effect, it is of no importance to the outside world and leads neither to good nor to evil.

Six in the second place means:
The influence shows itself in the calves of the legs.
Tarrying brings good fortune.

In movement, the calf of the leg follows the foot; by itself it can neither go forward nor stand still. Since the movement is not self-governed, it bodes ill. One should wait quietly until one is impelled to action by a real influence. Then one remains uninjured.

Nine in the third place means;
The influence shows itself in the thighs.
Holds to that which follows it.
To continue is humiliating.

Every mood of the heart influences us to movement. What the heart desires, the thighs run after without a moment’s hesitation; they hold to the heart, which they follow. In the life of man, however, acting on the spur of every caprice is wrong and if continued leads to humiliation. Three considerations suggest themselves here. First, a man should not run precipitately after all the persons whom he would like to influence, but must be able to hold back under certain circumstances. As little should he yield immediately to every whim of those in whose service he stands. Finally, where the moods of his own heart are concerned, he should never ignored the possibility of inhibition, for hit is the basis of human freedom.

Nine in the fourth place means;
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Remorse disappears.
if a man is agitated in mind,
And his thoughts go hither and thither,
Only those friends
On whom he fixes his conscious thoughts
Will follow.

Here the place of the heart is reached. The impulse that springs from this source is the most important of all. It is of particular concern that this influence be constant and good; then, in spite of the danger arising from the great susceptibility of the human heart, there will be no cause for remorse. When the quiet power of a man’s own character is at work, the effects produced are right. All those who are receptive to the vibrations of such a spirit will then be influenced. Influence over others should not express itself as a conscious and willed effort t manipulate them. Through practicing such conscious incitement, one becomes wrought up and is exhausted by the eternal stress and strain. Moreover, the effects produced are then limited to those on whom one’s thoughts are consciously fixed.

Nine in the fifth place means:
The influence shows itself in the back of the neck.
No remorse.

The back of the neck is the most rigid part of the body. When the influence shows itself there, the will remains firm and the influence does not lead to confusion. hence remorse does not enter into consideration here. What takes place in the depths of one’s being, in the unconscious, can neither be called forth nor prevented by a conscious mind. it is true that if we cannot be influenced ourselves, we cannot influence the outside world.

Six at the top means:
The influence shows itself in the jaws, cheeks, and tongue.

The most superficial way of trying to influence others is through talk that has nothing real behind it. The influence produced by such mere tongue wagging must necessarily remain insignificant. Hence no indication is added regarding good or bad fortune.

10 Responses to I-Ching Hexagram 31

  1. Chris says:

    I asked the I Ching for direction in my life and i asked it in question form as What or where is the foundation of my life? The resulting hexagram was #31, the mountain with a lake on it. And the changing lines in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6th position changed the hexagram to #9, The taming power of the small. What translation can i take away from this?

  2. TheAbysmal says:

    That’s really for yourself to contemplate – that’s the whole point of the exercise. You have to take time to reflect on the two hexagrams and the nature of the change from the first to the second.

  3. Drew says:

    This hexagram came up when asking about my relationship with music, muff said

  4. Opal says:

    I asked the I Ching if my recent friendship with someone I met a month ago has potential to become a love relationship. I got hexagram 31, changing lines 3 and 5. Future: Hexagram 16.

    I have a little trouble understanding the changing lines in my context? any help?

  5. Ricky says:

    In general, I have difficulty understanding the relationship between the a hexagram and its change.

    In this particular situation, I am attempting to woo a very complicated man hesitant to commit, though he also responds well and joyously to slow, steady persistence, which I hope will eventually grow into something lasting (the origins of the relationship have been built in response to 37 –> 61, so I’ve been really trying to understand him first). I was given 31 in a moment of deep anxiety about why I fret so much over this man, whether I can trust that the slow and steady approach will not be secretly undermined by other forces (e.g. more openly seductive women). In anxiety, I thought, perhaps I should more openly seduce this man, rather than more quietly court in response to his nature as I am beginning to understand it and communicate (37/61). In 31, the changing line was in the first, which I believe advises that I continue to exert influence more quietly, without visible effect, while the image of 31 in general, its appearance in this moment of growing feeling, also seems to assure me that my feelings are true and my influence based in love, not false desire. However, a change in the first line became 49: revolution… with success if the timing is right.

    My question is this ,and the answer will help me with all readings, that is, how to understand the hexagrams in relation to unfolding and time. Does 31 (hexagram 1) offer a portrait of the present and does 49 (the new hexagram) indicate what will occur in the future? Does the changing line indicate what I am doing now and does the hexagram it become indicate its future outcome? I ask because the description of line #1 in 31 does not directly advise any sort action; it seems merely describe an already existent state (I have feeling in my toes, but I am not yet moving them). I *want* revolution with success… I want to win him: how do I help the first line move into 49? Or is that not really how hexagrams relate (present–> future)? When/how can the feeling in my toes become a leap forward?


  6. Ricky says:

    Another way of putting this question: is the second hexagram an indication of the present, like a second “layer” of the first hexagram, or is it the future, what will happen if the first hexagram is heeded?

  7. Tony says:

    Interesting, Ricky.

    Under similar circumstances, I gained the ‘Revolution’ hexagram as the present (the circumstances of our friendship/relationship are at present undergoing great change) and ‘Hsien’ as the future.

    I imagine that this means I must simply ‘be myself’ with the object of my affection, rather than try to manipulate her/seduce her (which could, theoretically be easy as the basis of what has become our friendship was originally quite physical). Is ‘chipping away’ by showing her genuine friendship the way to achieve a lasting relationship out of this?

    • Ricky says:

      Oddly enough… his name is Tony! And It’s over now, I just couldn’t keep my cool. Or maybe the revolution has yet to be televised? I check in with him once in a while to see if I mightn’t see him again. Tonight in fact, then received your post while thoughts of him filled me. With your situation, why not be yourself? But while showing her you are able to develop a friendship, also show you desire her, lest she get anxious you’ve had a change of heart.

  8. 8 trigram tengu says:

    exetreme yin- dissolving forms as they are restruction
    exetreme yin- resolution within the restuction
    young yang- the beginning of new manifestation from struction.
    meaning of trigram in this state the mountain is a spring board not a limitation but an extension or framework to extend upon into….

    which leads one into the next line of the hexagram
    young yang- originating and opening knowledge becoming manifest
    young yang- growing and bearing fruits/externalizing from knowledge of previous line
    exetreme yin-struction of the fruit/internalizing

    the meaning of the trigram thereis an external/ritual action that will lead to the internalization/enlightenment

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