I Ching (Book of Changes, circa 1000 B.C.)
Richard Wilhelm & Cary F. Baynes translation, 1950
62. Hsiao Kuo / Preponderance of the Small
above CHêN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
below KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN
While in the hexagram Ta Kuo, Preponderance of the Great (28),
the strong lines preponderate and are within, inclosed between weak lines
at the top and bottom, the present hexagram has weak lines preponderating,
though here again they are on the outside, the strong lines being within.
This indeed is the basis of the exceptional situation indicated by the hexagram.
When strong lines are outside, we have the hexagram I, Providing Nourishment (27),
or Chung Fu, Inner Truth, (61); neither represents and exceptional state.
When strong elements within preponderate, they necessarily enforce their will.
This creates struggle and exceptional conditions in general. But in the
present hexagram it is the weak element that perforce must mediate with
the outside world. If a man occupies a position of authority for which
he is by nature really inadequate, extraordinary prudence is necessary.
PREPONDERANCE OF THE SMALL. Success.
Small things may be done; great things should not be done.
The flying bird brings the message:
It is not well to strive upward,
It is well to remain below.
Great good fortune.
Exceptional modesty and conscientiousness are sure to be rewarded with success;
however, if a man is not to throw himself away, it is important that they should
not become empty form and subservience but be combined always with a correct
dignity in personal behavior. We must understand the demands of the time in
order to find the necessary offset for its deficiencies and damages. In any
event we must not count on great success, since the requisite strength is
lacking. In this lies the importance of the message that one should not
strive after lofty things but hold to lowly things.
The structure of the hexagram gives rise to the idea that this message is
brought by a bird. In Ta Kuo, Preponderance of the Great (28), the four strong,
heavy lines within, supported only by two weak lines without, give the image
of a sagging ridgepole. Here the supporting weak lines are both outside and
preponderant; this gives the image of a soaring bird. But a bird should not
try to surpass itself and fly into the sun; it should descend to the earth,
where its nest is. In this way it gives the message conveyed by the hexagram.
Thunder on the mountain:
The image of PREPONDERANCE OF THE SMALL.
Thus in his conduct the superior man gives preponderance to reverence.
In bereavement he gives preponderance to grief.
In his expenditures he gives preponderance to thrift.
Thunder on the mountain is different from thunder on the plain.
In the mountains, thunder seems much nearer; outside the mountains,
it is less audible than the thunder of an ordinary storm. Thus the
superior man derives an imperative from this image: he must always
fix his eyes more closely and more directly on duty than does the
ordinary man, even though this might make his behavior seem petty
to the outside world. He is exceptionally conscientious in his actions.
In bereavement emotion means more to him than ceremoniousness. In all
his personal expenditures he is extremely simple and unpretentious.
In comparison with the man of the masses, all this makes him stand out
as exceptional. But the essential significance of his attitude lies in
the fact that in external matters he is on the side of the lowly.
Six at the beginning means:
The bird meets with misfortune through flying.
A bird ought to remain in the nest until it is fledged. If it tries
to fly before this, it invites misfortune. Extraordinary measures
should be resorted to only when all else fails. At first we ought
to put up with traditional ways as long as possible; otherwise
we exhaust ourselves and our energy and still achieve nothing.
° Six in the second place means:
She passes by her ancestor
And meets her ancestress.
He does not reach his prince
And meets the official.
Two exceptional situations are instanced here. In the temple of ancestors,
where alternation of generations prevails, the grandson stands on the same
side as the grandfather. Hence his closest relations are with the grandfather.
The present line designates the grandson's wife, who during the sacrifice
passes by the ancestor and goes toward the ancestress. This unusual behavior
is, however, an expression of her modesty. She ventures rather to approach
the ancestress, for she feels related to her by their common sex. Hence here
deviation from the rule is not a mistake.
Another image is that of the official who, in compliance with regulation,
first seeks an audience with his prince. If he is not successful in this,
he does not try to force anything but goes about conscientious fulfillment
of his duty, taking his place among the other officials. This extraordinary
restraint is likewise not a mistake in exceptional times. (The rule is that
every official should first have an audience with the prince by whom he is
appointed. Here the appointment is made by the minister.)
Nine in the third place means:
If one is not extremely careful,
Somebody may come up from behind and strike him.
At certain times extraordinary caution is absolutely necessary. But it is
just in such life situations that we find upright and strong personalities
who, conscious of being in the right, disdain to hold themselves on guard,
because they consider it petty. Instead, they go their way proud and
unconcerned. But this self-confidence deludes them. There are dangers
lurking for which they are unprepared. Yet such danger is not unavoidable;
one can escape it if he understands that the time demands that he pay
especial attention to small and insignificant thing.
Nine in the fourth place means:
No blame. He meets him without passing by.
Going brings danger. One must be on guard.
Do not act. Be constantly persevering.
Hardness of character is tempered by yielding position so that no mistakes
are made. The situation here calls for extreme caution; one must make no
attempt of one's own initiative to reach the desired end. And if one were
to go on, endeavoring one must be on guard and not act but continue
inwardly to persevere.
° Six in the fifth place means:
No rain from our western territory.
The prince shoots and hits him who is in the cave.
As a high place is pictured here, the image of a flying bird has become that
of flying clouds. But dense as the clouds are, they race across the sky and
give no rain. Similarly, in exceptional times there may be a born ruler who
is qualified to set the world in order, but who cannot achieve anything or
confer blessing on the people because he stands alone and has no helpers.
Is such times a man must seek out helpers with whose aid he can carry out
the task. But these helpers must be modestly sought out in the retirement
to which they have withdrawn. It is not in the fame nor their great names
but their genuine achievements that are important. Through such modesty
the right man is found, and the exceptional task is carried out in spite
of all difficulties.
Six at the top means:
He passes him by, not meeting him.
The flying bird leaves him.
This means bad luck and injury.
If one overshoots the goal, one cannot hit it. If a bird will not come
to its nest but flies higher and higher, it eventually falls into the
hunter's net. He who in times of extraordinary salience of small things
does not know how to call a halt, but restlessly seeks to press on and on,
draws upon himself misfortune at the hands of gods and men, because he
deviates from the order of nature.
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