I Ching (Book of Changes, circa 1000 B.C.)

Richard Wilhelm & Cary F. Baynes translation, 1950

      51. Chên / The Arousing (Shock, Thunder)


The hexagram Chên represents the eldest son, who seizes rule with energy 
and power. A yang line develops below two yin lines and presses upward forcibly. 
This movement is so violent that it arouses terror. It is symbolized by thunder, 
which bursts forth from the earth and by its shock causes fear and trembling.


        SHOCK brings success.
        Shock comes— oh, oh!
        Laughing words— ha, ha!
        The shock terrifies for a hundred miles,
        And he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice.

The shock that comes from the manifestation of God within the depths of the 
earth makes man afraid, but this fear of God is good, for joy and merriment 
can follow upon it. When a man has learned within his heart what fear and 
trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside 
influences. Let the thunder roll and spread terror a hundred miles around: 
he remains so composed and reverent in spirit that the sacrificial rite is not 
interrupted. This is the spirit that must animate leaders and rulers of men— 
a profound inner seriousness from which all terrors glance off harmlessly.

        THE IMAGE

        Thunder repeated: the image of SHOCK.
        Thus in fear and trembling
        The superior man sets his life in order
        And examines himself.

The shock of continuing thunder brings fear and trembling. The superior man 
is always filled with reverence at the manifestation of God; he sets his life 
in order and searches his heart, lest it harbor any secret opposition to the 
will of God. Thus reverence is the foundation of true culture.

        THE LINES

        ° Nine at the beginning means:
        Shock comes-oh, oh!
        Then follow laughing words-ha, ha!
        Good fortune.

The fear and trembling engendered by shock come to an individual at first in such 
a way that he sees himself placed at a disadvantage as against others. But this is 
only transitory. When the ordeal is over, he experiences relief, and thus the very 
terror he had to endure at the outset brings good fortune in the long run.

        Six in the second place means:
        Shock comes bringing danger.
        A hundred thousand times
        You lose your treasures
        And must climb the nine hills.
        Do not go in pursuit of them.
        After seven days you will get them back again.

This pictures a situation in which a shock endangers a man and he suffers 
great losses. Resistance would be contrary to the movement of the time and 
for this reason unsuccessful. Therefore he must simply retreat to heights 
inaccessible to the threatening forces of danger. He must accept his loss 
of property without worrying too much about it. When the time of shock 
and upheaval that has robbed him of his possessions has passed, he will 
get them back again without going in pursuit of them.

        Six in the third place means:
        Shock comes and makes one distraught.
        If shock spurs to action
        One remains free of misfortune.
There are three kinds of shock— the shock of heaven, which is thunder, 
the shock of fate, and, finally, the shock of the heart. The present hexagram 
refers less to inner shock than to the shock of fate. In such times of shock, 
presence of mind is all too easily lost: the individual overlooks all 
opportunities for action and mutely lets fate take its course. But if he 
allows the shocks of fate to induce movement within his mind, he will 
overcome these external blows with little effort.

        Nine in the fourth place means:
        Shock is mired.

Movement within the mind depends for its success partly on circumstances. 
If there is neither a resistance that might be vigorously combated, 
nor yet a yielding that permits of victory— if, instead, everything 
is tough and inert like mire— movement is crippled.

        Six in the fifth place means:
        Shock goes hither and thither.
        However, nothing at all is lost.
        Yet there are things to be done.

This is a case not of a single shock but of repeated shocks with no breathing 
space between. Nonetheless, the shock causes no loss, because one takes care 
to stay in the center of movement and in this way to be spared the fate of 
being helplessly tossed hither and thither.

        Six at the top means:
        Shock brings ruin and terrified gazing around.
        Going ahead brings misfortune.
        If it has not yet touched one's own body
        But has reached one's neighbor first,
        There is no blame.
        One's comrades have something to talk about.

When inner shock is at its height, it robs a man of reflection and clarity of vision. 
In such a state of shock it is of course impossible to act with presence of mind. 
Then the right thing is to keep still until composure and clarity are restored. 
But this a man can do only when he himself is not yet infected by the agitation, 
although its disastrous effects are already visible in those around him. 
If he withdraws from the affair in time, he remains free of mistakes and injury. 
But his comrades, who no longer heed any warning, will in their excitement 
certainly be displeased with him. However, he must not take this into account.


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