Home Ichingfortune Hexagrams Legge Hexagrams Iching reading Links

I Ching Hexagram 13 - T'ung Jen / Fellowship with Men

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


The image of the upper trigram Ch'ien is heaven, and that of the lower, Li, is flame. It is the nature of fire to flame up to the heaven. This gives the idea of fellowship. It is the second line that, by virtue of its central character, unites the five strong lines around it. This hexagram forms a complement to Shih, The Army (7). In the latter, danger is within and obedience without the character of a warlike army, which, in order to hold together, needs one strong man among the many who are weak. Here, clarity is within and strength without--the character of a peaceful union of men, which, in order to hold together, needs one yielding nature among many firm persons.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

<-Prev Next->


Fellowship with Men in the open. Success. It furthers one to cross the great water. The perseverance of the superior man furthers.

Judgement Commentary

True fellowship among men must be based upon a concern that is universal. It is not the private interests of the individual that create lasting fellowship among men, but rather the goals of humanity. That is why it is said that fellowship with men in the open succeeds. If unity of this kind prevails, even difficult and dangerous tasks, such as crossing the great water, can be accomplished. But in order to bring about this sort of fellowship, a persevering and enlightened leader is needed, a man with clear, convincing, and inspiring aims and the strength to carry them out. (The inner trigram means clarity; the outer, strength.)

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.

The Lines

Nine at the beginning means: Fellowship with men at the gate. No blame.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 33 - Tun / Retreat Both Legge and Wilhelm present this line as the first attempts at union where differences have had no opportunity to develop. This seems to be simply the equivalent to people talking over the fence or stoop. No real influence can be forged. The resultant hexagram 33 counsels us to be content with small successes as the opposition to our achievement of our goals is strong.

Six in the second place means: Fellowship with men in the clan. Humiliation.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 1 - Ch'ien / The Creative. The line says we should not seek to artificially limit membership of our group on the basis of our self interest. No real success would be possible in such circumstances. The resultant hexagram 1 is, however, extremely positive so implies that we heed the advice of this line and become very successful as a result. Legge says this "..shows the representative of the union of men in relation with his kindred." This seems to say that small petty special interest groups will provide only a "...limited and partial..." union and this in not for the best.

Nine in the third place means: He hides weapons in the thicket; He climbs the high hill in front of it. For three years he does not rise up.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 25 - Wu Wang / Innocence (The Unexpected). Union based on mistrust never works so why try it? Mistrust delays and prevents any real joying together and so nothing positive eventuates. Legge does say that " His abstaining so long, however, from any active attempt (of attempting union), will save him from misfortune." The resultant hexagram 25 tells us that unexpected success will come to he who deserves it and failure likewise. Which will we choose?

Nine in the fourth place means: He climbs up on his wall; he cannot attack. Good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 37 - Chia Jen / The Family (The Clan). Wilhelm sees reconciliation approaching but Legge merely an inability to proceed through lack of courage not desire, "He also would fain make an attempt ... but he is afraid...". Certainly the resultant hexagram 37 indicates that the ultimate outcome here is not conducive to the attainment of goals in the wider world but instead a focus on ones family and its needs.

Nine in the fifth place means: Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament, but afterward they laugh. After great struggles they succeed in meeting.

Changing only this line creates I Ching Hexagram 30 - Li / The Clinging, Fire. Union is achieved, conflicting ideas resolved. This line sees the differences preventing union removed. Legge presents the idea of a battle where those seeking union successfully defeat those opposing same. This seems quite different to the emphasis in Wilhelm on friends/family reconciling. The resultant hexagram 30 predicts success and good fortune for the great man based upon "...cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence." So the demands of egoism are to be subjected to the demands of the desired union.

Nine at the top means: Fellowship with men in the meadow. No remorse.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 49 - Ko / Revolution (Molting). Here the union is a general, society wide one where one doesn't need to personally know all of ones associates. The resultant hexagram 49 refers to revolution where old changes to new with an augury of supreme success. Legge puts this as "...the union of men in the suburbs." You don't know everyone in the city you live in but you do share many opinions and issues with them. Nonetheless revolution is no trivial thing and so hexagram 49 says "They should be undertaken only under stress of direst necessity".

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 13 - T'ung Jen / Fellowship with Men translation of this hexagram.