Decay

18. Ku / Work on what has been spoiled [ Decay ]

above Kên KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN
below Sun THE GENTLE, WIND

The Chinese character ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. IT is come about because the gentle indifference in the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. Since this implies guilt, the conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause. Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply “what has been spoiled” but “work on what has been spoiled”.

THE JUDGMENT

WORK ON WHAT HAS BEEN SPOILED
Has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Before the starting point, three days.
After the starting point, three days.

What has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. IT is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work and danger-symbolized by crossing of the great water-but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. This is expressed by the lines, “Before the starting point, three days. After the starting point, three days.” We must first know the cause of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start. Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start. Decisiveness and energy must take the place of inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning.

THE IMAGE

The wind blows low on the mountain:
The image of DECAY.
Thus the superior man stirs up the people
And strengthens their spirit.

When the wind blows slow on the mountain, it is thrown back and spoils the vegetation. This contains a challenge to improvement. It is the same with debasing attitudes and fashions; they corrupt human society. His methods likewise must be derived from the two trigrams, but in such a way that their effects unfold in orderly sequence. The superior must first remove stagnation by stirring up public opinion, as the wind stirs up everything, and must strengthen and tranquilize the character of the people, as the mountain gives tranquillity and nourishment to all that grows in its vicinity.

Six in the beginning means:
Setting right what has been spoiled by the father.
If there is a son,
No blame rests upon the departed father.
Danger. In the end good fortune.

Rigid adherence to tradition has resulted in decay. But the decay has not yet penetrated deeply and so can still be easily remedied. It is as if a son were compensated for the decay his father allowed to creep in. Then no blame attaches to the father. However, one must not overlook the danger or take the matter too lightly. Only if one is conscious of the danger connected with every reform will everything go well in the end.

° Six in the fifth place means:
Setting right what has been spoiled by the father.
One meets with praise.

An individual is confronted with corruption originating from neglect in former times. He lacks the power to ward it off alone, but with able helpers he can at least bring about a thorough reform, if he cannot create a new beginning, and this also is praiseworthy.

9. Hsiao Ch’u / The Taming Power of the Small

above SUN THE GENTLE, WIND
below CH’IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN

This hexagram means the force of the small–the power of the shadowy–that restrains, tames, impedes. A weak line in the fourth place, that of the minister, holds the five strong lines in check. In the Image it is the wind blowing across the sky. The wind restrains the clouds, the rising breath of the Creative, and makes them grow dense, but as yet is not strong enough to turn them to rain. The hexagram presents a configuration of circumstances in which a strong element is temporarily held in leash by a weak element. It is only through gentleness that this can have a successful outcome.

THE JUDGMENT

THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL
Has success.
Dense clouds, no rain from our western region.

This image refers to the state of affairs in China at the time when King Wên, who came originally from the west, was in the east at the court of the reigning tyrant Chou Hsin. The moment for action on a large scale had not yet arrived. King Wên could only keep the tyrant somewhat in check by friendly persuasion. Hence the image of many clouds, promising moisture and blessing to the land, although as yet no rain falls. The situation is not unfavorable; there is a prospect of ultimate success, but there are still obstacles in the way, and we can merely take preparatory measures. Only through the small means of friendly persuasion can we exert any influence. The time has not yet come for sweeping measures. However, we may be able, to a limited extent, to act as a restraining and subduing influence. To carry out our purpose we need firm determination within and gentleness and adaptability in external relations.

THE IMAGE

The wind drives across heaven:
The image of THE TAMING POWER OF THE SMALL.
Thus the superior man
Refines the outward aspect of his nature.

The wind can indeed drive the clouds together in the sky; yet, being nothing but air, without solid body, it does not produce great or lasting effects. So also an individual, in times when he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of his nature in small ways.

Published on December 2, 2019 at 6:00 by

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