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6. Sung [Contention]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Sung intimates how, though there is sincerity in one's contention, he will yet meet with opposition and obstruction; but if he cherish an apprehensive caution, there will be good fortune, while, if he must prosecute the contention to the (bitter) end, there will be evil. It will be advantageous to see the great man; it will not be advantageous to cross the great stream.

[Whincup] Grievance.
Allegiance is blocked and becomes cautious.
To stop halfway is auspicious,
To carry on to the end is not.
One should go to see a big man.
One should not cross a big river.

[Christensen] 6 - 訟 Dispute  
訟 有 孚 窒 惕 中 吉 終 凶 利 見 大 人 不 利 涉 大 川 In a dispute, [initially] there is confidence, but halt and be cautious at the middle [when things are still] good. [If you press] all the way through it will go badly. It is advantageous to seek a great person’s [advice], but not to cross the great river [with the army].

[Pearson] (sòng) Strife
Strife. If you are sincere in your regrets, take the middle way, and you will have good fortune. If you persist to the end, you face disaster. You ought to seek the advice of someone greater than you are. Crossing the great river [attempting a major change] is ineffective.

[Redmond] 6. 訟 Song Dispute
6.0 Holding captives. Obstruction, be cautious—auspicious in the middle but ends ominously. Beneficial to see the important person. Not favorable to cross the great river. 有孚. 窒惕—中吉, 終凶. 利見大人. 不利涉大川.

[Legge] 6 We have strength in the upper trigram, as if to regulate and control the lower, and peril in that lower as if looking out for an opportunity to assail the upper; or, as it may be represented, we have one's self in a state of peril matched against strength from without. All this is supposed to give the idea of contention or strife. But the undivided line in the centre of Khan is emblematic of sincerity, and gives a character to the whole figure. An individual, so represented, will be very wary, and have good fortune; but strife is bad, and if persevered in even by such a one, the effect will be evil. The fifth line, undivided, in an odd place, and central, serves as a representative of 'the great man,' whose agency is sure to be good; but the topmost line being also strong, and with its two companions, riding as it were, on the trigram of peril, its action is likely to be too rash for a great enterprise. See the ['Comments on the Thwan,' below].

P. Regis explains several of the expressions in the Text, both in the Thwan and the Hsiang, from the history of king Wan and his son king Wu. Possibly his own circumstances may have suggested to Wan some of the Thwan; and his course in avoiding a direct collision with the tyrant Shau, and Wu's subsequent exploits may have been in the mind of the duke of Kau. Some of the sentiments, however, cannot be historically explained. They are general protests against all contention and strife.

Comments on the Thwan

1. The upper portion of Sung is (the trigram representing) strength, and the lower (that representing) peril. (The coming together of) strength and peril gives (the idea in) Sung.

2. 'Sung intimates how, though there is sincerity in one's contention, he will yet meet with opposition and obstruction; but if he cherish an apprehensive caution, there will be good fortune:'—a strong (line) has come and got the central place (in the lower trigram).

'If he must prosecute the contention to the (bitter) end, there will be evil:'—contention is not a thing to be carried on to extremity.

'It will be advantageous to meet with the great man:'—what he sets a value on is the due mean, and the correct place.

'It will not be advantageous to cross the great stream:'—one (attempting to do so) would find himself in an abyss.

[Legge] Paragraph 1 here is much to the same effect as the first sentence in the notes on the Thwan of the Text. It is said, 'Strength without peril would not produce contention; peril without strength would not be able to contend.'

2. 'A strong line has come and got the central place:'—this sentence has given rise to a doctrine about the changes of trigrams and hexagrams, which has obscured more than anything else the interpretation of the Yi. Where has the strong second line come from? From a hundred critics we receive the answer,—'From Tun (33_001111).' The reader will see that if the second and third lines of the lower trigram there be made to change places, there results 06_010111, or Sung. The doctrine of changing the figures by the manipulation of the stalks did spring up between the time of Wan and his son and that of the composition of the Appendixes; but there is no trace of it in the real Text of the Yi; and it renders any scheme for the interpretation of the figures impossible. The editors of the imperial Yi allow this, and on the present passage discard the doctrine entirely, referring to the language of the Thwan on hexagrams 11 and 12 as fatal to it. See the notes there, and the Introduction, [Chapter 2, Par 2.1-2.18]. 'A strong line has come' is to be taken as equivalent simply to a strong line is there.'

What 'the great man sets a value on being the due mean and the correct place,' his decision in any matter of contention is sure to be right.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) heaven and (that representing) water, moving away from each other, form Sung. The superior man, in accordance with this, in the transaction of affairs takes good counsel about his first steps.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 6 The symbolism here is different from that in the Text of the Thwan. We have the visible sky ascending and water or rain descending, which indicate, one hardly sees how, opposition and contention. The lesson as to the course of the superior man is a good one, but might with equal propriety be deduced from many other hexagrams.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first SIX, divided, shows its subject not perpetuating the matter about which (the contention is). He will suffer the small (injury) of being spoken against, but the end will be fortunate.

010111 changing to 110111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.1

He quits his ruler's service.
Words are spoken against him,
But he is fortunate in the end.

[Christensen] 初 六﹕ 不 永 所 事 小 有 言 終 吉 Beginning 6: Do not prolong cases. If you only talk little about it, it will end good.

[Pearson] Six in the first place: If you do not prolong this dispute, petty people may talk, but in the end you will have good fortune.

[Redmond] 6.1 Do not persist for the long term with the matter. With a few words it ends auspiciously. 初六不永所事. 小有言終吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He does not perpetuate the matter about which (the contention is):'—contention should not be prolonged. Although 'he may suffer the small (injury) of being spoken against,' his argument is clear.

[Legge] The subject of line 1 is weak and at the bottom of the figure. He may suffer a little in the nascent strife, but will let it drop; and the effect will be good. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Hsiang An-shih (Sung dynasty) says that the first part of paragraph 2 is all to be taken as the language of the duke of Kau, the characters being varied; the rest is the remark of the writer of this treatise.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject unequal to the contention. If he retire and keep concealed (where) the inhabitants of his city are (only) three hundred families, he will fall into no mistake.

010111 changing to 000111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.2

His grievance is rejected.
He flees to his 300-household estate
And escapes disaster.

[Christensen] 九 二﹕ 不 克 訟 歸 而 逋 其 邑 人 三 百 戶 无 眚 Second 9: You cannot take this matter to court. Turn back and flee, then the people of the 300 households of your home town will avoid calamity.

[Pearson] Nine in the second place: You cannot win this dispute. Return home and escape. [Even though your resources may be limited], to a city of [only] three hundred families, there will be no disaster.

[Redmond] 6.2 Not successful in the dispute. Returns, but from his town three hundred families had fled. There was no mistake. 九二不克訟. 歸, 而逋其邑人三百戶. 无眚.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He is unequal to the contention; he retires and keeps concealed, stealthily withdrawing from it:'—for him from his lower place to contend with (the stronger one) above, would be to (invite) calamity, as if he brought it with his hand to himself.

[Legge] Line 2 represents one who is strong, and has the rule of the lower trigram;—he has the mind for strife, and might be expected to engage in it. But his strength is weakened by, being in an even place, and he is no match for his correlate in line 5, and therefore retreats. A town or city with only three hundred families is said to be very small. That the subject of the line should retire to so insignificant a place is further proof of his humility.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows its subject keeping in the old place assigned for his support, and firmly correct. Perilous as the position is, there will be good fortune in the end. Should he perchance engage in the king's business, he will not (claim the merit of) achievement.

010111 changing to 011111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.3

He lives off his patrimony.
This is dangerous,
   but will be fortunate in the end.
In the service of the king,
   he would achieve nothing.

[Christensen] 六 三﹕ 食 舊 德 貞 厲 終 吉 或 從 王 事 无 成 Third 6: Food that was formerly highly valued [may seem] correct to eat but, [if in fact], it is harmful, we [shouldn’t eat it because we want] things to end well. You are undertaking an assignment for the King, but it should not be completed.

[Pearson] Six in the third place: Feeding on old virtues. If you persist, danger and good fortune. But the king’s business will not be achieved. [matters affecting many people will come to nothing]

[Redmond] 6.3 Dining with friends of ancient virtue. Divination—harsh in the end. Auspicious sometimes to follow the king’s affairs, for which there is no completion. 六三食舊德. 貞—厲終. 吉或從王事无成.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He confines himself to the support assigned to him of old:'—(thus) following those above him, he will have good fortune.

[Legge] Line 3 is weak and in an odd place. Its subject therefore is not equal to strive, but withdraws from the arena. Even if forced into it, he will keep himself in the background;—and be safe. 'He keeps in the old place assigned for his support' is, literally, 'He eats his old virtue;' meaning that he lives in and on the appanage assigned to him for his services.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject unequal to the contention. He returns to (the study of Heaven's) ordinances, changes (his wish to contend), and rests in being firm and correct. There will be good fortune.

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Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.4

His grievance is rejected.
He returns to obedience.
Though he suffers loss,
   it is auspicious for him to stay as he is.

[Christensen] 九 四﹕ 不 克 訟 復 即 命 渝 安 貞 吉 Fourth 9: You can’t win this case. Return to attend your assignment and change for peace; this will be correct and good.

[Pearson] Nine in the fourth place: Unsuccessful in strife. Turn back, submit to what is mandated. But if you change your aims and then persevere, good fortune.

[Redmond] 6.4 Not successful in the dispute. Reply quickly to the decree. Change to be safe. Divination auspicious. 九四不克訟. 復即命. 渝安. 貞吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He returns to (the study of Heaven's) ordinances, changes (his wish to contend), and rests in being firm and correct:'—he does not fail (in doing what is right).

[Legge] Line 4 is strong, and not in the centre; so that we are to conceive of its subject as having a mind to strive. But immediately above it is line 5, the symbol of the ruler, and with him it is hopeless to strive; immediately below is 3, weak, and out of its proper place, incapable of maintaining a contention. Its proper correlate is the lowest line, weak, and out of its proper place, from whom little help can come. Hence its subject takes the course indicated, which leads to good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] It is observed that the returning to (the study of Heaven's) ordinances, and changing the wish to contend, in paragraph 4, are not two things, but only one; 'the ordinances (ming) meaning what is right in principle.' The wish to contend was wrong in principle, and is now abandoned.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject contending;—and with great good fortune.

010111 changing to 010101

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.5

He makes a grievance.
Supremely auspicious.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 訟 元 吉 Fifth 9: [This case you can] take to court, [because] the foundation is good.

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: Strife at the source. Good fortune.

[Redmond] 6.5 Disputation begins auspiciously. 九五訟元吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He contends;—and 'with great fortune:—this is shown by his holding the due mean and being in the correct place.

[Legge] Line 5 has every circumstance in favour of its subject.

6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows how its subject may have the leathern belt conferred on him (by the sovereign), and thrice it shall be taken from him in a morning.

010111 changing to 010110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 5.6

He is awarded a leather belt,
But in a morning,
   it is taken from him three times.

[Christensen] 上 九﹕ 或 錫 之 鞶 帶 終 朝 三 褫 之 Top 9: Someone bestows on you a fine ceremonial belt, but before noon you will be deprived of it three times.

[Pearson] Nine at the top: The belt of noble rank is bestowed, but in the end it is taken away three times in a single day.
You may seem the winner at first, but your reward will be taken back again and again.

[Redmond] 6.6 Disputation begins auspiciously. It happened that given a big leather belt, on the same day three times it was taken away. 九五訟元吉.上九或錫之鞶帶, 終朝三褫之.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He receives the robe through his contention:'—but still be is not deserving of respect.

[Legge] Line 6 is strong and able to contend successfully; but is there to be no end of striving? Persistence in it is sure to end in defeat and disgrace. The contender here might receive a reward from the king for his success; but if he received it thrice in a morning, thrice it would be taken from him again. As to the nature of the reward here given, see on the Li Ki, I, ii, 32. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 'The robe' takes the place of 'the leathern sash' in paragraph 6; but the sash was merely an appendage of the robe.

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