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48. Zing [The Well]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

(Looking at) Zing, (we think of) how (the site of) a town may be changed, while (the fashion of) its wells undergoes no change. (The water of a well) never disappears and never receives (any great) increase, and those who come and those who go can draw and enjoy the benefit. If (the drawing) have nearly been accomplished, but, before the rope has quite reached the water, the bucket is broken, this is evil.

[Whincup] The well.
If the city is changed but the well is not,
   there will be neither loss nor gain.
Going to draw from the well,
   you will not get water from it.
When the bucket is almost up,
   it will catch on the well's broken wall.

[Christensen] 48 - 井 The Well  
井 改 邑 不 改 井 无 喪 无 得 往 來 井 井 汔 至 亦 未 繘 井 羸 其 瓶 凶 The Well. It is bad if the village is renewed, but the well is not renewed. Without [thinking about] what they can lose or gain, [people just] come and go to the well. But the well can dry up even to the point where you cannot quite [reach down] to draw water from the well, [and prolonged use] will wear out its bucket.

[Pearson] (jǐng) The Well
The well. Move the city but do not move the well. No loss, no gain: going to and coming from the well. But if it dries up, the rope is not yet there, or the bucket is damaged, misfortune.

[Redmond] 48. 井 Jing The Well
48.0 Can change the city; cannot change the well. There is no loss; there is no gain. Coming and going, to and from the well. The well is almost dried up; when they arrive does not have a well-rope and its jar is worn out. Ominous. 改邑; 不改井. 无喪无得. 往來井. 井汔至亦未繘. 羸其瓶. 凶.

[Legge] Zing, which gives its name to this hexagram, is the symbol of a well. The character originally was pictorial (Zing), intended to represent a portion of land, divided into nine parts, the central portion belonging to the government, and being cultivated by the joint labour of the eight families settled on the other divisions. In the centre of it, moreover, was a well, which was the joint property of all the occupants.

What is said on Zing might be styled 'Moralisings on a well,' or Lessons to be learned from a well for the good order and government of a country.' What a well is to those in its neighbourhood, and indeed to men in general, that is government to a people. If rulers would only rightly appreciate the principles of government handed down from the good ages of the past, and faithfully apply them to the regulation of the present, they would be blessed themselves and their people with them.

In the Thwan we have the well, substantially the same through many changes of society; a sure source of dependance to men, for their refreshment and for use in their cultivation of the ground. Its form is what I have seen in the plains of northern China; what may be seen among ourselves in many places in Europe. It is deep, and the water is drawn up by a vessel let down from the top; and the value of the well depends on the water being actually raised. And so the principles of government must be actually carried out.

Comments on the Thwan

1. (We have the symbol of) wood in the water and the raising of the water; which (gives us the idea of) a well. A well supplies nourishment and is not (itself) exhausted.

2. 'The site of a town may be changed, while the fashion of its wells undergoes no change:'—this is indicated by the central position of the strong lines (in the second and fifth places).

'The drawing is nearly accomplished, but the rope has not yet reached the water of the well:'—its service has not yet been accomplished.

'The bucket is broken:'—it is this that occasions evil.

[Legge] Kang Khang-Khang says:—'Khan, the upper trigram, represents water, and Sun, the lower, wood. This wood denotes the water-wheel or pulley with its bucket, which descends into the mouth of the spring, and brings the water up to the top.' This may be a correct explanation of the figure, though the reading of it from bottom to top seems at first to be strange.

Paragraph 2. That the fashion of the well does not undergo any (great) change is dwelt upon as illustrating the unchangeableness of the great principles of human nature and of government. But that this truth may be learned from the strong and central lines only produces a smile. So do the remarks on the other two sentences of the Thwan.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) wood and above it that for water form Zing. The superior man, in accordance with this, comforts the people, and. stimulates them to mutual helpfulness.

[Legge] 48 The Great Symbolism here may well enough represent a well, it being understood that the water which is above the wood is that raised by it for irrigation and other uses. What is said, moreover, in the application is more akin to the idea of the hexagram than in most of the other cases. It is certainly one way in which the ruler should nourish the people.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first SIX, divided, shows a well so muddy that men will not drink of it; or an old well to which neither birds (nor other creatures) resort.

011010 changing to 111010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.1

The well is muddy. No one drinks.
There is no game at an old well.

[Christensen] 初 六﹕ 井 泥 不 食 舊 井 无 禽 Beginning 6: The well is muddy and the water can’t be drunk. At an old well there are not even birds.

[Pearson] Six in the first place: The well is muddy, no drinking from it. An old well, without birds.

[Redmond] 48.1 The well is muddy, not drinkable. By the old well there are no birds and beasts. 初六井泥, 不食. 舊井无禽.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'A well so muddy that men will not drink of it:'—this is indicated by the low position (of the line). 'An old well to which the birds do not come:'—it has been forsaken in the course of time.

[Legge] Line 1, being weak, and at the very bottom of the figure, suggests, or is made to suggest, the symbolism of it. Many men in authority are like such a well; corrupt, useless, unregarded. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] It is said on paragraph 1:—'Those who have a mind to do something in the world, when they look at this line, and its symbolism, will learn how they ought to exert themselves.'

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows a well from which by a hole the water escapes and flows away to the shrimps (and such small creatures among the grass), or one the water of which leaks away from a broken basket.

011010 changing to 001010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.2

Shooting down a well at minnows.
The water jar is holed and leaks.

[Christensen] 九 二﹕ 井 谷 射 鮒 甕 敝 漏 Second 9: You can shoot carps in the pool of the well. The jug is worn and it leaks.

[Pearson] Nine in the second place: In the well’s depths, shooting at little fish. The bucket leaks.

[Redmond] 48.2 The well in the valley—shooting carp with arrows. The earthenware jar is worn out and drips. 九二井谷射鮒. 甕敝漏.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'A well from which by a hole the water escapes, and flows away to the shrimps:'—(the subject of this second line has) none co-operating with him (above).

[Legge] Line 2 is strong, and might very well symbolise an active spring, ever feeding the well and, through it, the ground and its cultivators; but it is in an inappropriate place, and has no proper correlate. Its cool waters cannot be brought to the top. So important is it that the ministers of a country should be able and willing rightly to administer its government. In the account of the ancient Shun it is stated that he once saved his life by an opening in the lining of a well.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows a well, which has been cleared out, but is not used. Our hearts are sorry for this, for the water might be drawn out and used. If the king were (only) intelligent, both he and we might receive the benefit of it.

011010 changing to 010010

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.3

The well is clear, but no one drinks.
This makes me sick at heart.
The will could be drawn from.
With a brilliant king,
   all would share the blessings.

[Christensen] 九 三﹕ 井 渫 不 食 為 我 心 惻 可 用 汲 王 明 並 受 其 福 Third 9: The well is being cleaned up and so, [meanwhile], the water can’t be drunk. This is distressful for us, but drawing water can [accelerate the clearing]. If the King explains about this and stands side by side [with the people while this is done], he will receive their good will.

[Pearson] Nine in the third place: The well is repaired but its water is not drunk. My heart is sad. It can be used and drunk if the ruler is enlightened and bestows his good fortune on others.

[Redmond] 48.3 The well has been drained. It cannot serve for drinking; our hearts are saddened. Can be used to draw water. The luminous king moreover grants his favor. 九三井渫不食。為我心惻。可用汲。王明。並受其福.

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'The well has been cleared out, but is not used:'—(even) passers-by would be sorry for this. A prayer is made 'that the king were intelligent:'—for then blessing would be received.

[Legge] Line 3 is a strong line, in its proper place; and must represent an able minister or officer. But though the well is clear, no use is made of it. I do not find anything in the figure that can be connected with this fact. The author was wise beyond his lines. After the first sentence of the paragraph, the duke of Kau ceases from his function of making emblems; reflects and moralises.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows a well, the lining of which is well laid. There will be no error.

011010 changing to 011110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.4

The well is relined.
No harm.

[Christensen] 六 四﹕ 井 甃 无 咎 Fourth 6: The well is being tiled, so it will be in perfect order.

[Pearson] Six in the fourth place: The well is repaired; no troubles.

[Redmond] 48.4 The well is lined with bricks. There will be no blame. 六四井甃. 无咎.

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'A well the lining of which is well laid. There will be no error:'—the well has been put in good repair.

[Legge] Line 4 is weak, but in its proper place. Its subject is not to be condemned, but neither is he to be praised. He takes care of himself, but does nothing for others. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Rather in opposition to what I have said on the Text of line 4, the 'Daily Lecture' observes here:—'The cultivation of one's self, which is represented here, is fundamental to the government of others.'

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows a clear, limpid well, (the waters from) whose cold spring are (freely) drunk.

011010 changing to 011000

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.5

The well is pure.
People drink from its cool spring.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 井 冽 寒 泉 食 Fifth 9: The well is cool like an ice cold spring to drink from.

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: The well has cold spring water. Drink it.

[Redmond] 48.5 The well is cold, a frigid spring for drinking. 九五井冽, 寒泉食.

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'The waters from the cold spring are (freely) drunk:'—this is indicated by the central and correct position (of the line).

[Legge] Line 5 is strong, and in its right place. The place is that of the ruler, and suggests the well, full of clear water, which is drawn up, and performs its useful work. Such is the good Head of government to his people.

6. The topmost SIX, divided, shows (the water from) the well brought to the top, which is not allowed to be covered. This suggests the idea of sincerity. There will be great good fortune.

011010 changing to 011011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 47.6

The well's cover is removed.
People have faith in it.
Supreme good fortune.

[Christensen] 上 六﹕ 井 收 勿 幕 有 孚 元 吉 Top 6: The well can be drawn from, so don’t cover it, then there will be confidence that this is a good well— through and through.

[Pearson] Six at the top: You take from the well without covering it. If you are sincere, great good fortune.

[Redmond] 48.6 To draw from the well, it must not be covered. Holding captives, begins auspiciously. 上六井收勿幕. 有孚元吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'The great good fortune' at the topmost place indicates the grand accomplishment (of the idea in the hexagram).

[Legge] Line 6 is in its proper place, but weak. If the general idea of the figure was different, a bad auspice might be drawn from it. But here we see in it the symbol of the water drawn up, and the top uncovered so that the use of the well is free to all. Then the mention of 'sincerity' suggests the inexhaustibleness of the elemental supply.

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