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39. Kien [Difficulty Walking]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

In (the state indicated by) Kien advantage will be found in the south-west, and the contrary in the north-east. It will be advantageous (also) to meet with the great man. (In these circumstances), with firmness and correctness, there will be good fortune.

[Whincup] Stumbling.
It is favorable to retreat,
It is not favorable to advance.
It is favorable to see someone big.
Staying as one is will bring good fortune.

[Christensen] 39 - 蹇 Obstruction  
蹇 利 西 南 不 利 東 北 利 見 大 人 貞 吉 [The nature of] obstruction is so that if the South West is advantageous, the North East is not. It will be fruitful to see a great man [for help] to correct things for the better.

[Pearson] (jiǎn) Impeded
On foot [instead of having wheels]. Effective in the southwest. Not effective in the northeast. It is effective to consult a wise one. Persisting is fortunate.

[Redmond] 39. 蹇 Jian Stumbling
39.0 Beneficial in the west and south. Not beneficial in the east and north. Beneficial to see the important person. Divination auspicious. 利西南. 不利東北. 利見大人.貞吉.

[Legge] Kien is the symbol for incompetency in the feet and legs, involving difficulty in walking; hence it is used in this hexagram to indicate a state of the kingdom which makes the government of it an arduous task. How this task may be successfully performed, now by activity on the part of the ruler, and now by a discreet inactivity:—this is what the figure teaches, or at least gives hints about. For the development of the meaning of the symbolic character from the structure of the lineal figure, see [the 'Comments on the Thwan' and 'Great Symbolism,' below].

The Thwan seems to require three things—attention to place, the presence of the great man, and the firm observance of correctness—in order to cope successfully with the difficulties of the situation. The first thing is enigmatically expressed, and the language should be compared with what we find in the Thwan of hexagrams 2 and 40. Referring to Figure 2, in Plate 3, we find that, according to Wan's arrangement of the trigrams, the southwest is occupied by Khwan ( 111 ), and the north-east by Kan ( 001 ). The former represents the champaign country; the latter, the mountainous region. The former is easily traversed and held; the latter, with difficulty. The attention to place thus becomes transformed into a calculation of circumstances; those that promise success in an enterprise, which should be taken advantage of, and those that threaten difficulty and failure, which should be shunned.

This is the generally accepted view of this difficult passage. The Khang-hsi editors have a view of their own. I have been myself inclined to find less symbolism in it, and to take the southwest as the regions in the south and west of the kingdom, which we know from the Shih were more especially devoted to Wan and his house, while the strength of the kings of Shang lay in the north and east.

'The idea of "the great man," Mencius's "minister of Heaven,"' is illustrated by the strong line in the fifth place, having for its correlate the weak line in 2. But favourableness of circumstances and place, and the presence of the great man do not dispense from the observance of firm correctness. Throughout these essays of the Yi this is always insisted on.

Comments on the Thwan

1. Kien denotes difficulty. There is (the trigram expressive of) perilousness in front. When one, seeing the peril, can arrest his steps (in accordance with the significance of the lower trigram), is he not wise?

2. (The language of) Kien, that 'advantage will be found in the south-west,' refers to the (strong fifth line) advanced and in the central place. That 'there will be no advantage in the north-east,' intimates that the way (of dealing with the Kien state) is exhausted. That 'it will be advantageous to see the great man,' intimates that advance will lead to achievement. That the places (of the different lines after the first) are those appropriate to them indicates firm correctness and good fortune, with which the regions (of the kingdom) are brought to their normal state. Great indeed is the work to be done in the time of Kien!

[Legge] The upper or front trigram is Khan, the attribute of which is perilousness; the lower is Kan, of which the arresting, actively or passively, of movement or advance is the attribute. We can understand how the union of these attributes gives the ideas of difficulty and prudent caution.

The explanations in paragraph 2 of the phraseology of the Thwan are not all easily followed. It is said that the advantageousness of the south-west is due to the central line in 5; but if we are to look for the meaning of south-west in Khwan, as in the diagram of king Wan's trigrams, there is no strong central line in it. May Khan, as a yang trigram, be used for Khwan?

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) a mountain, and above it that for water, form Kien. The superior man, in accordance with this, turns round (and examines) himself, and cultivates his virtue.

[Legge] The Symbolism is described here a little differently from the form of it in [the 'Comments on the Thwan,' above]. Khang-zze brings the same meaning out of it, however, in the following way:—'We have here a steep and difficult mountain, and again on the top of that there is water; each of the two trigrams is an emblem of perilousness. There is peril, both above and below, in the figure; and hence it represents the difficulties of the state.' The application of the symbolism is illustrated by the words of Mencius, 'When we do not, by what we do, realise (what we desire), we must turn inwards and examine ourselves in every point.'

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. From the first SIX, divided, we learn that advance (on the part of its subject) will lead to (greater) difficulties, while remaining stationary will afford ground for praise.

001010 changing to 101010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.1

Going forward, he stumbles,
Drawing back, he is praised.

[Christensen] 初 六﹕ 往 蹇 來 譽 Beginning 6: Going leads to obstruction, coming brings praise.

[Pearson] Six in the first place: Leaving on foot; coming by chariot.

[Redmond] 39.1 Going forth stumbling, on arrival, praised. 初六往蹇, 來譽.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'Advancing will conduct to (greater) difficulties, while remaining stationary will afford ground for praise:'—the proper course is to wait.

[Legge] Line 1 is weak, whereas it ought to be strong as being in an odd place. If its subject advance, he will not be able to cope with the difficulties of the situation, but be overwhelmed by them. Let him wait for a more favourable time.

2. The second SIX, divided, shows the minister of the king struggling with difficulty on difficulty, and not with a view to his own advantage.

001010 changing to 011010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.2

The servant of a king faces many difficulties,
But not on his own behalf.

[Christensen] 六 二﹕ 王 臣 蹇 蹇 匪 躬 之 故 Second 6: The king’s subject meets many obstructions, it is not his fault.

[Pearson] Six in the second place: The ruler’s officials walk and walk again, but not by reason of themselves.

[Redmond] 39.2 The king’s ministers—stumbling, stumbling, not bowing intentionally. 六二王臣蹇蹇. 匪躬之故.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'The minister of the king struggles with difficulty on difficulty:'—in the end no blame will be attached to him.

[Legge] Line 2 is weak, but in its proper place. Its correlation with the strong 5, and consequent significance, are well set forth. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] From the lesson in paragraph 2 we saw that the moral value of conduct is independent of failure or success. It is said, 'Though the difficulties be too great for him to overcome, the sage accepts his desire, in order to stimulate others to loyal devotedness.'

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject advancing, (but only) to (greater) difficulties. He remains stationary, and returns (to his former associates).

001010 changing to 000010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.3

Going forward, he stumbles,
So he turns around and comes back.

[Christensen] 九 三﹕ 往 蹇 來 反 Third 9: Going leads to obstruction; come back and turn away [from the problem].

[Pearson] Nine in the third place: Going on foot, and coming back.

[Redmond] 39.3 Going forth stumbling, on arrival turning back. [Divination about illness—will not die.] 九三往蹇, 來反. [卜病不死.]

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'He advances, (but only) to (greater) difficulty; he remains stationary, and returns to his former associates:'—they, (represented in) the inner (trigram), rejoice in him.

[Legge] Line 3 is strong, and in a place of strength; but its correlate in 6 is weak, so that the advance of its subject would be unsupported. He waits therefore for a better time, and cherishes the subjects of the two lines below, who naturally cling to him. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] On paragraph 3, Khung Ying-ta says:—'Of the three lines of the lower trigram only the third is yang, above the two others which are of the yin nature. They cling to it, and are represented as if rejoicing in it.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject advancing, (but only) to (greater) difficulties. He remains stationary, and unites (with the subject of the line above).

001010 changing to 001110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.4

Going forward, he stumbles,
Drawing back is the same.

[Christensen] 六 四﹕ 往 蹇 來 連 Fourth 6: Going leads to obstruction; come back and unite [with who is there].

[Pearson] Six in the fourth place: Going on foot; coming with connections.

[Redmond] 39.4 Going forth stumbling, arrive one after another. 六四往蹇, 來連

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'To advance will (only be to) encounter (greater) difficulties; he remains stationary, and unites (with the subject of the line above):'—that is in its proper place and has the solidity (due to it in that position).

[Legge] Line 4 is weak, and, though in its proper place, its subject could do little of himself. He is immediately below the king or great man, however, and cultivates his loyal attachment to him, waiting for the time when he shall be required to act. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The view given of paragraph 4 is that of the Khang-hsi editors.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject struggling with the greatest difficulties, while friends are coming to help him.

001010 changing to 001000

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.5

Just when he most stumbles,
Friends come to his aid.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 大 蹇 朋 來 Fifth 9: If you meet great obstruction, friends will come [to help].

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: When the great walk friends come. You lose.

[Redmond] 39.5 With big stumbles, friends arrive. 九五大蹇, 朋來.

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'He struggles with the greatest difficulties, while friends are coming (to help him):'—he is in the central position, and possesses the requisite virtue.

[Legge] Line 5 is the king, the man great and strong. He can cope with the difficulties, and the subjects of 2 and the other lines of the lower trigram give their help. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 'The friends' in paragraph 5 are the subjects of the second line, the correlate of 5, and also of the two other lines of the lower trigram.

6. The topmost SIX, divided, shows its subject going forward, (only to increase) the difficulties, while his remaining stationary will be (productive of) great (merit). There will be good fortune, and it will be advantageous to meet with the great man.

001010 changing to 001011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 40.6

Going forward, he stumbles,
So he draws back to someone great.
It is favorable to go see someone big.

[Christensen] 上 六﹕ 往 蹇 來 碩 吉 利 見 大 人 Top 6: Going leads to obstruction so come back and enlarge [your approach], then it will turn out good. It will be fruitful to see a great person [for help].

[Pearson] Six at the top: Going on foot; coming with a stone. Good fortune. Consulting a great person is effective.

[Redmond] 39.6 Going forth stumbling; arrival greatly auspicious. Beneficial to see the important person. 上六往蹇; 來碩吉. 利見大人.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'To advance will (only) increase the difficulties, while his remaining stationary will (be productive of) great (merit):'—his aim is to assist the (subject of the line) inside of him. 'It will be advantageous to meet the great man:'—by his course he follows that noble (lord of the figure).

[Legge] The action of the hexagram is over; where can the weak 6 go forward to? Let him abide where he is, and serve the great man immediately below him. So shall he also be great;—in meritorious action at least. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Su Shih (A. D. 1036-1101) remarks on paragraph 6 that by 'the inside,' and 'the noble,' we are to understand the subject of line 5.

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