Home Ichingfortune Hexagrams Legge Hexagrams Iching reading Links

I Ching Hexagram 2 - K'un / The Receptive

  • Above K'un the Receptive, Earth
  • Below K'un the Receptive, Earth


Hexagram 2 - K'un / The Receptive consists of yin lines only. These lines represents the dark, yielding, receptive primal power of yin or female essence. The basic attribute of this hexagram is devotion; for example the devotion of a mother to her child. It is seen as the perfect complement to the male principle represented by Hexagram 1 - Ch'ien, the Creative. The complement is not the opposite of Ch'ien nor is it completion with it. K'un and Ch'ien complete each other, without the other neither will be successful.

See the James Legge translation of this hexagram.

<-Prev Next->


The Receptive brings about sublime success, Furthering through the perseverance of a mare. Do not take the lead but seek guidance and follow good leaders. Choose your friends carefully

Judgement Commentary

You are not in an independent position, you should be acting as an assistant or an employee. Do not try to take the lead position failure lies there. Let yourself be led. That way you will find the right guidance. Do not go ahead blindly, learn from the situation what is required and then act. To achieve one often needs helpers. Choose carefully!

The Image

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

Image Commentary

Just as the Earth carries all, mighty and meek, good and bad, a superior man makes his character sufficient to support and help all sentient beings.

The Lines

Six at the beginning means: When there is hoarfrost underfoot, Solid ice is not far off.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 24 - Fu / Return (The Turning Point). This line shows te first stage of decay returning. Pay attention to the times but remember that life is cyclical and dark always follows light. Legge sees the cyclical changes also "...we see its subject treading on hoarfrost. The strong ice will come by and by." Take precautions as you can. The resultant hexagram 24, Return (The Turning Point), is not a bad hexagram so this lines change could be seen as good. After all winter is when you go skiing! "After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns." Which is the inverse of this lines meaning so the cycle is complete.

Six in the second place means: Straight, square, great. Without purpose, Yet nothing remains unfurthered.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 7 - Shih / The Army which is about the proper way of raising, organizing and directing an army. This is difficult to connect with the lines meaning above. Legge's interpretation of this line is simpler, "...shows the attribute of being straight, square, and great..." and this could be interpreted as the neccessary attributes of a great military leader.

Six in the third place means: Hidden lines. One is able to remain persevering. If by chance you are in the service of a king, Seek not works, but bring to completion.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 15 - Ch'ien / Modesty which is seen as leading to success. This line is circumspect and does not seek fame or fortune. He does his job well and is happy with that. The questioner that receives this line must still be careful to exercise restraint. Legge again is more concise and states "...keeping his excellence under restraint, but firmly maintaining it ..." brings affairs to a good end, if, the superior man does not claim credit for himself. The resultant hexagram 25, Modesty, reinforces this need for proper restrained behaviour "It is the law of fate to undermine what is full and to prosper the modest. And men also hate fullness and love the modest." The conclusion is clear.

Six in the fourth place means: A tied-up sack. No blame, no praise.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 16 - Yu / EnthusiasmThis line is tip toeing through dangerous times. We see the need for extreme caution. Legge says this line gives "...this shows how, through carefulness, no injury will be received...no ground for blame or praise." The resultant hexagram 16, Enthusiasm, indicates that the outcome for this line is better than it seems initially. "...it is enthusiasm that enables us to install helpers for the completion of an undertaking without fear of secret opposition." So we are will be free to act.

Six in the fifth place means: A yellow lower garment brings supreme good fortune.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 8 - Pi / Holding Together (union) a very good outcome with a reservation. One must ask again to see if one has the requisite attributes neccessary of a leader. If you do, good! If not woe! Legge is mostly similar to Wilhelm in that union indicated in Pi is political and "...is to be secured by the sovereign authority of one; but he is warned to see to it that his virtue be what will beseem his place". Then and only then is success to be expected.

Six at the top means: Dragons fight in the meadow. Their blood is black and yellow.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 23 - Po / Splitting Apart which is the inverse situation to hexagram 24 mentioned in the outcome of first changing line. Here decay and darkness are increasing, light is in retreat. To draw this line is to be told that you are pushing into areas you should not and that the outcome will be bad. Legge's interpretation of hexagram 23 is simple "Po denotes decay and overthrow" and any alternative is preferable to this.

When all the lines are sixes, it means: Lasting perseverance furthers.

Changing only this line creates Hexagram 1 - Ch'ien / The Creative or a situation of sublime success. Wilhelm reading above is not as positive as Legge, whose interpretation of this line "...becoming perpetually correct and firm, there will thereby be a great consummation". Notwithstanding both Wilhelm and Legge's interpretations of this line, the outcome after all the lines have changed is unambiguously good as the resultant hexagram is hexagram 1 Ch'ien / The Creative a great outcome to get.

See the James Legge - I Ching Hexagram 2 - K'un / The Receptive - James Legge Translation of this hexagram.