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20. Kwan [Looking, Contemplating]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Kwan shows (how he whom it represents should be like) the worshipper who has washed his hands, but not (yet) presented his offerings;—with sincerity and an appearance of dignity (commanding reverent regard).

[Whincup] Watching.
He washes his hands,
   but does not make an offering.
Faithful allegiance
   is as good as sacrificing an ox.

[Christensen] 20 - 觀 Observing  
觀 盥 而 不 薦 有 孚 顒 若 Observe while the hand washing ritual is done. [Even though the main event] of the sacrificial animal has not yet been laid out you must watch [this minor event] intently with inner confidence.

[Pearson] (guān) Gazing (Contemplation)
The hands have been washed, but they have not yet offered up the sacrifice. There is sincerity and solemnity.

[Redmond] 20. 觀 Guan Observing
20.0 Perform ablutions, but do not sacrifice the captives with big heads. 盥, 而不薦有孚顒若.

[Legge] The Chinese character Kwan, from which this hexagram is named, is used in it in two senses. In the Thwan, the first paragraph of the treatise on the Thwan, and the paragraph on the Great Symbolism, it denotes showing, manifesting; in all other places it denotes contemplating, looking at. The subject of the hexagram is the sovereign and his subjects, how he manifests himself to them, and how they contemplate him. The two upper, undivided, lines belong to the sovereign; the four weak lines below them are his subjects,—ministers and others who look up at him. Kwan is the hexagram of the eighth month.

In the Thwan king Wan symbolises the sovereign by a worshipper when he is most solemn in his religious service, at the commencement of it, full of sincerity and with a dignified carriage.

Comments on the Thwan

1. The great Manifester occupies an upper place (in the figure), which consists of (the trigrams whose attributes are) docility and flexibility. He is in the central position and his correct place, and thus exhibits (his lessons) to all under heaven.

2. 'Kwan shows its subject like a worshipper who has washed his hands, but not (yet) presented his offerings;—with sincerity and an appearance of dignity (commanding reverent regard):'—(all) beneath look to him and are transformed.

3. When we contemplate the spirit-like way of Heaven, we see how the four seasons proceed without error. The sages, in accordance with (this) spirit-like way, laid down their instructions, and all under heaven yield submission to them.

[Legge] 'The great Manifester' is the ruler, the principal subject of the hexagram, and represented by line 5, near the top of the figure. In that figure the lower trigram. is Khwan, representing the earth, with the attribute of docility, and the upper is Sun, representing wind, with the attributes of flexibility and penetration. As is the place of line 5, so are the virtues of the ruler.

'The spirit-like way of Heaven' is the invisible and unfathomable agency ever operating by general laws, and with invariable regularity, in what we call nature. Compare with this paragraph, the definition of Shan or Spirit in [Appendix 3, Section 1, Par. 32]; and the doctrine of the agency of God, taught in [Appendix 6:8,9]. [Ed. This last cross reference appears to be an error in the original book, since that location in Appendix 6 seems to be irrelevant. Perhaps what Legge actually had in mind was Appendix 5, Par. 8-10.]

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) the earth, and that for wind moving above it, form Kwan. The ancient kings, in accordance with this, examined the (different) regions (of the kingdom), to see the (ways of the) people, and set forth their instructions.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 20 Wind moving above the earth has the widest sweep, and nothing escapes its influence; it penetrates everywhere. This symbolism is more appropriate to the subject in hand than that of many other hexagrams. Personal influence in a ruler effects much; but the ancient kings wished to add to that the power of published instructions, specially adapted to the character and circumstances of the people. Sun, representing the wind, is well adapted to denote this influence;—see the Analects, 12, xix.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first SIX, divided, shows the looking of a lad;—not blamable in men of inferior rank, but matter for regret in superior men.

000011 changing to100011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.1

He sees like a child.
All right for a little man,
   but trouble for a lord.

[Christensen] 初 六﹕ 童 觀 小 人 无 咎 君 子 吝 Beginning 6: To see things like a child is not a mistake for the small person, but for the wise person it brings regret.

[Pearson] Six in the first place: The gaze of youth: for a minor person, no blame. For one worthy of authority, difficulties.

[Redmond] 20.1 Observing children. For the petty people there will be no blame. The upright people will have regret. 初六童觀. 小人无咎. 君子吝.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The looking of a lad shown by the first six, (divided); indicates the way of the inferior people.

[Legge] Line 1 is weak, and in the lowest place, improper also for it;—the symbol of a thoughtless lad, who cannot see far, and takes only superficial views. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The looking in line 1 is superficial, and does not reach far.

2. The second SIX, divided, shows one peeping out from a door. It would be advantageous if it were (merely) the firm correctness of a female.

000011 changing to 010011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.2

Peeking out from within.
Be passive as a woman.

[Christensen] 六 二﹕ 闚 觀 利 女 貞 Second 6: To peep without being seen is beneficial and correct for a woman.

[Pearson] Six in the second place: A peeping gaze: a woman’s persistence is effective.

[Redmond] 20.2 Peeking to observe. Beneficial for a woman to divine. 六二闚觀. 利女貞.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The firm correctness of a woman, in peeping out from a door' is also a thing to be ashamed of (in a superior man).

[Legge] Line 2 is also weak, but in its proper place, showing a woman, living retired, and only able to peep as from her door at the subject of the fifth line. But ignorance and retirement are proper in a woman.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows one looking at (the course of) his own life, to advance or recede (accordingly).

000011 changing to 001011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.3

"They watch what I do."
He advances and then retreats.

[Christensen] 六 三﹕ 觀 我 生 進 退 Third 6: Observe one’s own life whether to retreat or advance.

[Pearson] Six in the third place: Gazing at my life: advances, retreats.

[Redmond] 20.3 Observing our lives going forward and retreating. 六三觀我生, 進退.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He looks at (the course of his own life, to advance or recede (accordingly):'—he will not err in the path (to be pursued).

[Legge] Line 3, at the top of the lower trigram Khwan, and weak, must belong to a subject of the utmost docility, and will wish to act only according to the exigency of time and circumstances. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Line 3. 'He will not err in the path to be pursued;'—advancing or receding as is best.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows one contemplating the glory of the kingdom. It will be advantageous for him, being such as he is, (to seek) to be a guest of the king.

000011 changing to 000111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.4

Behold this nation's glory!
It is favorable to be a vassal of its king.

[Christensen] 六 四﹕ 觀 國 之 光 利 用 賓 于 王 Fourth 6: To observe the glory of a land it will be beneficial to be the king’s guest.

[Pearson] Six in the fourth place: Gazing at the splendor of the nation: appropriate for the guest of the ruler.

[Redmond] 20.4 Observing the country’s glory. Beneficial to be guests of the king. 六四觀國之光. 利用賓于王.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He contemplates the glory of the kingdom:'(thence) arises the wish to be a guest (at court).

[Legge] Line 4, in the place proper to its weakness, is yet in immediate proximity to 5, representing the sovereign. Its subject is moved accordingly, and stirred to ambition. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Line 4. 'The glory of the kingdom' is the virtue of the sovereign and the character of his administration. With the sentiment compare Mencius, VII, i, chap. 21. 2.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject contemplating his own life(-course). A superior man, he will (thus) fall into no error.

000011 changing to 000001

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.5

"They watch what I do."
A lord will come to no harm.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 觀 我 生 君 子 无 咎 Fifth 9: Observing one’s own life is not a mistake for the wise person.

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: Gazing at my life: for one worthy of authority, no blame.

[Redmond] 20.5 Observing our lives. Upright people will not be blamed. 九五觀我生. 君子无咎.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He contemplates his own life(-course):'—he should (for this purpose) contemplate (the condition of) the people.

[Legge] Line 5 is strong, and in the place of the ruler. He is a superior man, but this does not relieve him from the duty of self-contemplation or examination.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, shows its subject contemplating his character to see if it be indeed that of a superior man. He will not fall into error.

000011 changing to 000010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 19.6

"I watch what they do."
A lord will come to no harm.

[Christensen] 上 九﹕ 觀 其 生 君 子 无 咎 Top 9: Observing other people’s lives is not a mistake for the wise person.

[Pearson] Nine at the top: Gazing at their lives: for one worthy of authority, no blame.

[Redmond] 20.6 Observing their lives, upright people will not be blamed. 上九觀其生, 君子无咎.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He contemplates his own character:'—he cannot even yet let his mind be at rest.

[Legge] There is a slight difference in the 6th paragraph from the 5th, which can hardly be expressed in a translation. By making a change in the punctuation, however, the different significance may be brought out. Line 6 is strong, and should be considered out of the work of the hexagram, but its subject is still possessed by the spirit of its idea, and is led to self-examination.

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