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2. Khwan [Earth, Submission]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Khwan (represents) what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and having the firmness of a mare. When the superior man (here intended) has to make any movement, if he take the initiative, he will go astray; if he follow, he will find his (proper) lord. The advantageousness will be seen in his getting friends in the south-west, and losing friends in the north-east. If he rest in correctness and firmness, there will be good fortune.

[Legge] The same attributes are here ascribed to Khwan, as in the former hexagram to Khien;—but with a difference. The figure, made up of six divided lines, expresses the ideal of subordination and docility. The superior man, represented by it, must not take the initiative; and by following he will find his lord,—the subject, that is of Khien. Again, the correctness and firmness is defined to be that of 'a mare,' 'docile and strong,' but a creature for the service of man. That it is not the sex of the animal which the writer has chiefly in mind is plain from the immediate mention of the superior man, and his lord.

That superior man will seek to bring his friends along with himself to serve his ruler. But according to the arrangement of the trigrams by king Wan, the place of Khwan is in the south-west, while the opposite quarter is occupied by the yang trigram Kan, as in Figure 2, Plate 3. All that this portion of the Thwan says is an instruction to the subject of the hexagram to seek for others of the same principles and tendencies with himself to serve their common lord. But in quietness and firmness will be his strength.

Comments on the Thwan

1. Complete is the 'great and originating (capacity)' indicated by Khwan! All things owe to it their birth;—it receives obediently the influences of Heaven.

2. Khwan, in its largeness, supports and contains all things. Its excellent capacity matches the unlimited power (of Khien). Its comprehension is wide, and its brightness great. The various things obtain (by it) their full development.

3. The mare is a creature of earthly kind. Its (power of) moving on the earth is without limit; it is mild and docile, advantageous and firm:—such is the course of the superior man.

4. 'If he take the initiative, he goes astray:'—he misses, that is, his proper course. 'If he follow,' he is docile, and gets into his regular (course). 'In the south-west he will get friends:'—he will be walking with those of his own class. 'In the north-east he will lose friends:'—but in the end there will be ground for congratulation.

5. 'The good fortune arising from resting in firmness' corresponds to the unlimited capacity of the earth.

[Legge] As the writer in expounding the Thwan of hexagram 1 starts from the word 'heaven,' so here he does so from the symbolic meaning attached to 'earth.' What I have said on the Text about the difference with which the same attributes are ascribed to Khien and Khwan, appears clearly in paragraph 1. It is the difference expressed by the words that I have supplied,—'power' and 'capacity.' Khien originates; Khwan produces, or gives birth to what has been originated.

The 'penetrating,' or developing ability of Khwan, as displayed in the processes of growth, is the subject of paragraph 2. 'The brightness' refers to the beauty that shines forth in the vegetable and animal worlds.

Paragraph 3 treats of the symbol of the 'mare,' to lead the mind to the course of 'the superior man,' the good and faithful minister and servant.

See the note, corresponding to paragraph 4, on the Text. 'Resting in firmness' is the normal course of Khwan. Where it is pursued, the good effect will be great, great as the unlimited capacity of the earth.

Explanation of the Sentences

Chapter 1. 1. (What is indicated by) Khwan is most gentle and weak, but, when put in motion, is hard and strong; it is most still, but is able to give every definite form.

2. 'By following, it obtains its (proper) lord,' and pursues its regular (course).

3. It contains all things in itself, and its transforming (power) is glorious.

4. Yes, what docility marks the way of Khwan! It receives the influences of heaven, and acts at the proper time.

Great Symbolism

The (capacity and sustaining) power of the earth is what is denoted by Khwan. The superior man, in accordance with this, with his large virtue supports (men and) things.

[Legge] Khwan is formed by redoubling the trigram of the same name and having 'the earth for its symbol.' As in the former hexagram, the repetition is emphatic, not otherwise affecting the meaning of the hexagram. 'As there is but one heaven,' says Ku Hsi, 'so there is but one earth.' The first part of 'the Great Symbolism' appears in Canon McClatchie's version as—'Khwan is the generative part of earth.' By 'generative part' he probably means 'the productive or prolific faculty.' If he mean anything else, there comes out a conclusion antagonistic to his own view of the 'mythology' of the Yi. The character Shi, which he translates by 'generative part,' is defined in Dr. Williams' dictionary as 'the virility of males.' Such is the special significance of it. If it were so used here, the earth would be masculine.

It is difficult to say exactly what the writer meant by—'The superior man, in accordance with this, and with his large nature, supports (men and) things.' Lin Hsi-yuan (Ming dynasty) says:—'The superior man, in his single person, sustains the burden of all under the sky. The common people depend on him for their rest and enjoyment. Birds and beasts and creeping things, and the tribes of the vegetable kingdom, depend on him for the fulfilment or their destined being. If he be of a narrow mind and cold virtue, how can he help them? Their hope in him would be in vain.'

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. In the first SIX, divided, (we see its subject) treading on hoarfrost. The strong ice will come (by and by).

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He is treading on hoarfrost;—the strong ice will come (by and by):'—the cold (air) has begun to take form. Allow it to go on quietly according to its nature, and (the hoarfrost) will come to strong ice.

[Explanation of the Sentences] Chapter 2. 5. The family that accumulates goodness is sure to have superabundant happiness, and the family that accumulates evil is sure to have superabundant misery. The murder of a ruler by his minister, or of his father by a son, is not the result of the events of one morning or one evening. The causes of it have gradually accumulated,—through the absence of early discrimination. The words of the Yi, 'He treads on the hoar-frost; the strong ice will come (by and by),' show the natural (issue and growth of things).

2. The second SIX, divided, (shows the attribute of) being straight, square, and great. (Its operation), without repeated efforts, will be in every respect advantageous.

[Smaller Symbolism] The movement indicated by the second six, (divided),is 'from the straight (line) to the square.' '(Its operation), without repeated effort, in every way advantageous,' shows the brilliant result of the way of earth.

[Legge] Paragraph 2 presents to us the earth itself, according to the Chinese conception of it, as a great cube.

[Explanation of the Sentences] 6. 'Straight' indicates the correctness (of the internal principle), and 'square,' the righteousness (of the external act). The superior man, (thus represented), by his self-reverence maintains the inward (correctness), and in righteousness adjusts his external acts. His reverence and righteousness being (thus) established, his virtues are not solitary instances or of a single class. 'Straight, square, and great, working his operations, without repeated efforts, in every respect advantageous:'—this shows how (such a one) has no doubts as to what he does.

3. The third SIX, divided, (shows its subject) keeping his excellence under restraint, but firmly maintaining it. If he should have occasion to engage in the king's service, though he will not claim the success (for himself), he will bring affairs to a good issue.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He keeps his excellence under restraint, but firmly maintains it:'—at the proper time he will manifest it. 'He may have occasion to engage in the king's service:—great is the glory of his wisdom.

[Legge] To keep his excellence under restraint, as in paragraph 3, is the part of a minister or officer, seeking not his own glory, but that of his ruler. Paragraph 4 shows its subject exercising a still greater restraint on himself than in paragraph 3.

[Explanation of the Sentences] 7. Although (the subject of) this divided line has excellent qualities, he (does not display them, but) keeps them under restraint. 'If he engage with them in the service of the king, and be successful, he will not claim that success for himself:'—this is the way of the earth, of a wife, of a minister. The way of the earth is-'not to claim the merit of achievement,' but on behalf (of heaven) to bring things to their proper issue.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, (shows the symbol of) a sack tied up. There will be no ground for blame or for praise.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'A sack tied up;—there will be no error:'—this shows how, through carefulness, no injury will be received.

[Explanation of the Sentences] 8. Through the changes and transformations produced by heaven and earth, plants and trees grow luxuriantly. If (the reciprocal influence of) heaven and earth were shut up and restrained, we should have (a state that might suggest to us) the case of men of virtue and ability lying in obscurity. The words of the Yi, 'A sack tied up:—there will be no ground for blame or for praise,' are in reality a lesson of caution.

[Legge] Paragraph 4 shows its subject exercising a still greater restraint on himself than in paragraph 3.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, (shows) the yellow lower garment. There will be great good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The Yellow lower-garment;—there will be great good fortune:'—this follows from that ornamental (colour's) being in the right and central place.

[Legge] There is an interpretation of the symbolism of paragraph 5 in a narrative of the Zo Kwan, under the 12th year of duke Khao, B.C. 530. 'Yellow' is one of the five 'correct' colours, and the colour of the earth. 'The lower garment' is a symbol of humility. The fifth line is the seat of honour. If its occupant possess the qualities indicated, he will be greatly fortunate.

[Explanation of the Sentences] 9. The superior man (emblemed here) by the 'yellow' and correct (colour), is possessed of comprehension and discrimination. He occupies the correct position (of supremacy), but (that emblem) is on (the lower part of) his person. His excellence is in the centre (of his being), but it diffuses a complacency over his four limbs, and is manifested in his (conduct of) affairs:—this is the perfection of excellences.

6. The sixth SIX, divided (shows) dragons fighting in the wild. Their blood is purple and yellow.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The dragons fight in the wild:'—the (onward) course (indicated by Khwan) is pursued to extremity.

[Legge] See the note on the sixth line of hexagram 1. What is there said to be 'beyond the proper limits' takes place here 'in the wild.' The humble subject of the divided line is transformed into a dragon, and fights with the true dragon, the subject of the undivided line. They fight and bleed, and their blood is of the colour proper to heaven or the sky, and the colour proper to the earth.

7. (The lines of this hexagram are all weak and divided, as appears from) the use of the number six. If those (who are thus represented) be perpetually correct and firm, advantage will arise.

[Smaller Symbolism] '(The lines are all weak and divided, as appears from) the use of the number six:' —but (those who are thus represented) becoming perpetually correct and firm, there will thereby be a great consummation.

[Legge] Paragraph 7 supposes that the hexagram Khwan should become changed into Khien—the result of which would be good.

[Explanation of the Sentences] 10. (The subject of) the yin (or divided line) thinking himself equal to the (subject of the) yang, or undivided line, there is sure to be 'a contest.' As if indignant at there being no acknowledgment of the (superiority of the subject of the) yang line, (the text) uses the term 'dragons.' But still the (subject of neither line) can leave his class, and hence we have 'the blood' mentioned. The mention of that as being (both) 'azure and yellow' indicates the mixture of heaven and earth. Heaven's (colour) is azure and earth's is yellow.

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Editorial features of this edition © 2012 by Joseph F. Morales