Hexagram 13 - T'ung Jen / Fellowship with Men - James Legge Translation

hexagram 13
  • Above Ch'ien the Creative, Heaven
  • Below Li the Clinging, Flame


T'ung Jen or 'Union of men' appears here as we find it in the remote districts of the country, indicating progress and success. It will be advantageous to cross the great stream. It will be advantageous to maintain the firm correctness of the superior man.

Meaning Commentary

T'ung Jen describes a condition of nature and of the state opposite to that of P'i . There was distress and obstruction; here is union. But the union must be based entirely on public considerations, without taint of selfishness.

The strong line in the fifth, its correct, place, occupies the most important position, and has for its correlate the weak second line, also in its correct place. The one divided line is naturally sought after by all the strong lines. The upper trigram is that of heaven, which is above; the lower is that of fire, whose tendency is to mount upwards. All these things are in harmony with the idea of union. But the union must be free from all selfish motives, and this is indicated by its being in the remote districts of the country, where people are unsophisticated, and free from the depraving effects incident to large societies. A union from such motives will cope with the greatest difficulties; and yet a word of caution is added.

See The Richard Wilhelm translation of this hexagram.

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The Image

Heaven together with fire: The image of Fellowship with Men. Thus the superior man organizes the clans and makes distinctions between things.

Image Commentary

Heaven has the same direction of movement as fire, yet it is different from fire. Just as the luminaries in the sky serve for the systematic division and arrangement of time, so human society and all things that really belong together must be organically arranged. Fellowship should not be a mere mingling of individuals or of things--that would be chaos, not fellowship. If fellowship is to lead to order, there must be organization within diversity.

The Image

The earth's condition is receptive devotion. Thus the superior man who has breadth of character Carries the outer world.

Image Commentary

Just as there is only one heaven, so too there is only one earth. In the hexagram of heaven the doubling of the trigram implies duration in time, but in the hexagram of earth the doubling connotes the solidity and extension in space by virtue of which the earth is able to carry and preserve all things that live and move upon it. The earth in its devotion carries all things, good and evil, without exception. In the same way the superior man gives to his character breadth, purity, and sustaining power, so that he is able both to support and to bear with people and things.

King Wans explanation

  1. In T'ung Jen the weak line has the place of influence, the central place, and responds to the corresponding line in Ch'ien above; hence comes its name of T'ung Jen or Union of men.
  2. The language, T'ung Jen appears here as we find it in the remote districts of the country, indicating progress and success, and that it will be advantageous to cross the great stream,' is moulded by its containing the strength symbolled in Ch'ien. Then we have the trigram indicating elegance and intelligence, supported by that indicating strength; with the line in the central, and its correct, position, and responding to the corresponding line above: all representing the correct course of the superior man. It is only the superior man who can comprehend and affect the minds of all under the sky.

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

To understand the various points in this commentary, it is only necessary to refer to the Text of the hexagram. The proper correlate of line 2 is line 5, and I have said therefore that it 'responds to the corresponding line in Ch'ien.' The editors of the Khang-hsu edition, however, would make the correlate to it all the lines of Ch'ien, as being more agreeable to the idea of union.

I do not think that a second paragraph has been lost. The 'T'ung Jen says' is merely a careless repetition of the three concluding characters of paragraph 1.

The Lines

The first NINE, undivided, shows the representative of the union of men just issuing from his gate. There will be no error.

Line 1 emblems the first attempts at union. It is strong, but in the lowest place; and it has no proper correlate above. There is, however, no intermixture of selfishness in it.

The second SIX, divided, shows the representative of the union of men in relation with his kindred. There will be occasion for regret.

Lines 2 and 5 are proper correlates, which fact suggests in this hexagram the idea of their union being limited and partial, and such as may afford ground for blame.

The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject with his arms hidden in the thick grass, and at the top of a high mound. But for three years he makes no demonstration.

Line 3 is strong, and in an odd place; but it has not a proper correlate in 6. This makes its subject more anxious to unite with 2; but 2 is devoted to its proper correlate in 5, of whose strength 3 is afraid, and takes the measures described. His abstaining so long, however, from any active attempt, will save him from misfortune.

The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject mounted on the city wall; but he does not proceed to make the attack he contemplates. There will be good fortune.

Line 4 is strong, but in an even place, which weakens its subject, He also would fain make an attempt on 2 but he is afraid, and does not carry his purpose into effect.

In the fifth NINE, undivided, the representative of the union of men first wails and cries out, and then laughs. His great host conquers, and he and the subject of the second line meet together.

Line 5 is strong, in an odd, and the central place; and would fain unite with 2, which indeed is the proper correlate of its subject. But 3 and 4 are powerful foes that oppose the union, Their opposition makes him weep; but he collects his forces, defeats them, and effects his purpose.

The topmost NINE, undivided, shows the representative of the union of men in the suburbs. There will be no occasion for repentance.

The union reaches to all within the suburbs, and is riot yet universal but still there is no cause for repentance.