above K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER
below LI THE CLINGING, FIRE
This hexagram is the evolution of T’ai PEACE (11). The transition from confusion to order is completed, and everything is in its proper place even in particulars. The strong lines are in the strong places, the weak lines in the weak places. This is a very favorable outlook, yet it gives reason for thought. For it is just when perfect equilibrium has been reached that any movement may cause order to revert to disorder. The one strong line that has moved to the top, thus effecting complete order in details, is followed by the other lines. Each moving according to its nature, and thus suddenly there arises again the hexagram P’i, STANDSTILL (12).
Hence the present hexagram indicates the conditions of a time of climax, which necessitate the utmost caution.
AFTER COMPLETION. Success in small matters.
At the beginning good fortune.
At the end disorder.
The transition from the old to the new time is already accomplished. In principle, everything stands systematized, and it is only in regard to details that success is still to be achieved. In respect to this, however, we must be careful to maintain the right attitude. Everything proceeds as if of its own accord, and this can all too easily tempt us to relax and let thing take their course without troubling over details. Such indifference is the root of all evil. Symptoms of decay are bound to be the result. Here we have the rule indicating the usual course of history. But this rule is not an inescapable law. He who understands it is in position to avoid its effects by dint of unremitting perseverance and caution.
Water over fire: the image of the condition
In AFTER COMPLETION.
Thus the superior man
Takes thought of misfortune
And arms himself against it in advance.
When water in a kettle hangs over fire, the two elements stand in relation and thus generate energy (cf. the production of steam). But the resulting tension demands caution. If the water boils over, the fire is extinguished an its energy is lost. If the heat is too great, the water evaporates into the air. These elements here brought in to relation and thus generating energy are by nature hostile to each other. Only the most extreme caution can prevent damage. In life too there are junctures when all forces are in balance and work in harmony, so that everything seems to be in the best of order. In such times only the sage recognizes the moments that bode danger and knows how to banish it by means of timely precautions.
Nine at the beginning means:
He breaks his wheels.
He gets his tail in the water.
In times following a great transition, everything is pressing forward, striving in the direction of development and progress. But this pressing forward at the beginning is not good; it overshoots the mark and leads with certainty to loss and collapse. Therefore a man of strong character does not allow himself to be infected by the general intoxication but checks his course in time. He may indeed not remain altogether untouched by the disastrous consequences of the general pressure, but he is hit only from behind like a fox that, having crossed the water, at the last minute gets its tail wet. He will not suffer any real harm, because his behavior has been correct.
Nine in the third place means:
The Illustrious Ancestor
Disciplines the Devil’s Country.
After three years he conquers it.
Inferior people must not be employed.
“Illustrious Ancestor” is the dynastic title of the Emperor Wu Ting of the Yin dynasty. After putting his realm in order with a strong hand, he waged long colonial wars for the subjection of the Huns who occupied the northern borderland with constant threat of incursions.
The situation described is as follows. After times of completion, when a new power has arisen and everything within the country has been set in order, a period of colonial expansion almost inevitably follows. Then as a rule long-drawn-out struggles must be reckoned with. For this reason, a correct colonial policy is especially important. The territory won at such bitter cost must not be regarded as an almshouse for people who in one way or another have hade themselves impossible at home, but who are thought to be quite good enough for the colonies. Such a policy ruins at the outset any chance of success. This holds true in small as well as large matters, because it is not only rising states that carry on a colonial policy; the urge to expand, with its accompanying dangers, is part and parcel of every ambitious undertaking.
Six in the fourth place means:
The finest clothes turn to rags.
Be careful all day long.
In a time of flowering culture, an occasional convulsion is bound to occur, uncovering a hidden evil within society and at first causing a great sensation. But since the situation is favorable on the whole, such evils can easily be glossed over and concealed from the public. Then everything is forgotten and peace apparently reigns complacently once more. However, to the thoughtful man, such occurrences are grave omens that he does not neglect. This is the only way of averting evil consequences.
Nine in the fifth place means:
The neighbor in the east who slaughters an ox
Does not attain as much real happiness
As the neighbor in the west
With his small offering.
Religious attitudes are likewise influenced by the spiritual atmosphere prevailing in times after completion. In divine worship the simple old forms are replaced by an ever more elaborate ritual and an ever greater outward display. But inner seriousness is lacking in this show of magnificence; human caprice takes the place of conscientiousobedience to the divine will. However, while man sees what is before his eyes, God looks into the heart. Therefore a simple sacrifice offered with real piety holds a greater blessing than an impressive service without warmth.
above CHêN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
below K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH
The strong line in the fourth place, that of the leading official, meets with response and obedience from all the other lines, which are all weak. The attribute of the upper trigram, Chên, is movement; the attributes of K’un, the lower, are obedience and devotion. This begins a movement that meets with devotion and therefore inspires enthusiasm, carrying all with it. Of great importance, furthermore, is the law of movement along the line of least resistance, which in this hexagram is enunciated as the law for natural events and for human life.
ENTHUSIASM. It furthers one to install helpers
And to set armies marching.
The time of ENTHUSIASM derives from the fact that there is at hand an eminent man who is in sympathy with the spirit of the people and acts in accord with it. Hence he finds universal and willing obedience. To arouse enthusiasm it is necessary for a man to adjust himself and his ordinances to the character of those whom he has to lead. The inviolability of natural laws rests on this principle of movement along the line of least resistance. Theses laws are not forces external to things but represent the harmony of movement immanent in them. That is why the celestial bodies do not deviate from their orbits and why all events in nature occur with fixed regularity. It is the same with human society: only such laws are rooted in popular sentiment can be enforced, while laws violating this sentiment merely arouse resentment.
Again, it is enthusiasm that enables us to install helpers for the completion of an undertaking without fear of secret opposition. It is enthusiasm too that can unify mass movements, as in war, so that they achieve victory.
Thunder comes resounding out of the earth:
The image of ENTHUSIASM.
Thus the ancient kings made music
In order to honor merit,
And offered it with splendor
To the Supreme Deity,
Inviting their ancestors to be present.
When, at the beginning of summer, thunder–electrical energy–comes rushing forth from the earth again, and the first thunderstorm refreshes nature, a prolonged state of tension is resolved. Joy and relief make themselves felt. So too, music has power to ease tension within the heart and to loosen the grip of obscure emotions. The enthusiasm of the heart expresses itself involuntarily in a burst of song, in dance and rhythmic movement of the body. From immemorial times the inspiring effect of the invisible sound that moves all hearts, and draws them together, has mystified mankind.
Rulers have made use of this natural taste for music; they elevated and regulated it. Music was looked upon as something serious and holy, designed to purify the feelings of men. It fell to music to glorify the virtues of heroes and thus to construct a bridge to the world of the unseen. In the temple men drew near to God with music and pantomimes (out of this later the theater developed). Religious feeling for the Creator of the world was united with the most sacred of human feelings, that of reverence for the ancestors. The ancestors were invited to these divine services as guests of the Ruler of Heaven and as representatives of humanity in the higher regions. This uniting of the human past with the Divinity in solemn moments of religious inspiration established the bond between God and man. The ruler who revered the Divinity in revering his ancestors became thereby the Son of Heaven, in whom the heavenly and the earthly world met in mystical contact.
These ideas are the final summation of Chinese culture. Confucius has said of the great sacrifice at which these rites were performed: “He who could wholly comprehend this sacrifice could rule the world as though it were spinning on his hand.”