Hexagram 44 - Kou / Coming to Meet - James Legge Translation

hexagram 44
  • Above Ch'ien the Creative, Heaven
  • Below Sun the Gentle, Wind


Kou shows a female who is bold and strong. It will not be good to marry such a female.

Meaning Commentary

The single, divided, line at the top of Kou, the hexagram of the third month, has been displaced, and Khien has ruled over the fourth month of the year. But the innings of the divided line commence again; and here we have in Kou the hexagram of the fifth month, when light and heat are supposed both to begin to be less.

In that divided line Wan saw the symbol of the small or unworthy man, beginning to insinuate himself into the government of the country. His influence, if unchecked, would go on to grow, and he would displace one good man after another, and fill the vacant seats with others like-minded with himself. The object of Wan in his Thwan, therefore, was to enjoin resistance to the encroachment of this bad man.

Kou is defined as giving the idea of suddenly and casually encountering or meeting with. So does the divided line appear all at once in the figure. And this significance of the name rules in the interpretation of the lines, so as to set on one side the more common interpretation of them according to the correlation; showing how the meaning of the figures was put into them from the minds of Wan and Tan in the first place. The sentiments of the Text are not learned from them; but they are forced and twisted, often fantastically, and made to appear to give those sentiments forth of themselves.

Here the first line, divided, where it ought to be the contrary, becomes the symbol of a bold, bad woman, who appears unexpectedly on the scene, and wishes to subdue or win all the five strong lines to herself. No one would contract a marriage with such a female; and every good servant of his country will try to repel the entrance into the government of every officer who can be so symbolized.

See The Richard Wilhelm translation of this hexagram.

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The Image

Under heaven, wind: The image of Coming to Meet. Thus does the prince act when disseminating his commands and proclaiming them to the four quarters of heaven.

Image Commentary

The situation here resembles that in hexagram 20, Kuan, Contemplation (View). In the latter the wind blows over the earth, here it blows under heaven; in both cases it goes everywhere. There the wind is on the earth and symbolizes the ruler taking note of the conditions in his kingdom; here the wind blows from above and symbolizes the influence exercised by the ruler through his commands. Heaven is far from the things of earth, but it sets them in motion by means of the wind. The ruler is far form his people, but he sets them in motion by means of his commands and decrees.

King Wans explanation

  1. Kou has the significance of unexpectedly coming on. We see in it the weak line coming unexpectedly on the strong ones.
  2. It will not be good to marry such a female: one so symbolized should not be long associated with.
  3. Heaven and earth meeting together as here represented, all the variety of natural things become fully displayed.
  4. When a strong line finds itself in the central and correct position, good government will greatly prevail all under the sky.
  5. Great indeed is the significance of what has to be done at the time indicated by Kou!

Legge Footnotes on King Wans explanation

On paragraph 1 the Khang-hsi editors say: The weak line meets with or comes unexpectedly on the strong ones the weak line, that is, plays the principal part. The case is like that of the minister who assumes the power of deciding for himself on all measures, or of a hen's announcing the morning is not the name of shameless boldness rightly applied to it? Hence nothing more is said about the symbol of the bold female; but attention is called to the second part of the Thwan.

Paragraph 2 needs no remark. Paragraphs 3, 4, and 5 all speak of the importance of powers and parties meeting together, in the world of nature, and in the sphere of human affairs. But I do not see how this sentiment is a natural sequel to that in i and 2, nor that it has any connection with the teaching of the Thwan and Symbolism.

The Lines

The first SIX, divided, shows how its subject should be kept like a carriage tied and fastened to a metal drag, in which case with firm correctness there will be good fortune. But if he move in any direction, evil will appear. He will be like a lean pig, which is sure to keep jumping about.

Line 1 represents the bete noire of the figure. If its subject can be kept back, the method of firm government and order will proceed. If he cannot be restrained, he will become disgusting and dangerous. It is not enough for the carriage to be stopped by the metal drag; it is also tied or bound to some steadfast object. Internal and external restraints should be opposed to the bad man.

The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject with a wallet of fish. There will be no error. But it will not be well to let the subject of the first line go forward to the guests.

The wallet of fish under line 2 is supposed to symbolize the subject of line 1. It has come into the possession of the subject of 2, by virtue of the meaning of the name Kou, which I have pointed out. With his strength therefore he can repress the advance of 1. He becomes in fact the lord of the hexagram, and all the other strong lines are merely guests; and especially is it important that he should prevent 1 from approaching them. This is a common explanation of what is said under this second line. It seems farfetched; but I can neither find nor devise anything better.

The third NINE, undivided, shows one from whose buttocks the skin has been stripped so that he walks with difficulty. The position is perilous, but there will be no great error.

With what is said on line 3, compare the fourth paragraph of the duke's Text on the preceding hexagram. Line 3 is strong, but has gone beyond the central place has no correlate above and is cut off from 1 by the intervening 2. It cannot do much therefore against 1 but its aim being to repress that, there will be no great error.

The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject with his wallet, but no fish in it. This will give rise to evil.

Line 1 is the proper correlate of 4; but it has already met and associated with 2. The subject of 4 therefore stands alone; and evil to him may be looked for.

The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject as a medlar tree overspreading the gourd beneath it. If he keep his brilliant qualities concealed, a good issue will descend as from Heaven.

Line 5 is strong, and in the ruler's place. Its relation to 1 is like that of a forest tree to the spreading gourd. But let not its subject use force to destroy or repress the growth of 1; but let him restrain himself and keep his excellence concealed, and Heaven will set its seal to his virtue.

The sixth NINE, undivided, shows its subject receiving others on his horns. There will be occasion for regret, but there will be no error.

The symbolism of line 6 is difficult to understand, though the meaning of what is said is pretty clear. The Khang-hsi editors observe, the subject of this line is like an officer who has withdrawn from the world. He can accomplish no service for the time but his person is removed from the workers of disorder.