31. Hsien / Influence (Wooing)

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 Kên, Keeping still. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid
trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this
stimulation cheerfully and joyously. Kên, the lower trigram, is the youngest
son; the upper, Tui, is the youngest daughter. Thus the universal mutual
attraction between the sexes is represented. In courtship, the masculine
principle must seize the initiative and place itself below the feminine

Just as the first part of book 1 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


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


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


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 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 ignore the possibility of inhibition,
for this 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 to 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 mind. It is true
that if we cannot be influenced ourselves, we cannot influence the outside

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.