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9. Hsiao Khu [Small Restraint]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Hsiao Khu indicates that (under its conditions) there will be progress and success. (We see) dense clouds, but no rain coming from our borders in the west.

[Legge] The name Hsiao Khu is interpreted as meaning 'small restraint.' The idea of 'restraint' having once been determined on as that to be conveyed by the figure, it is easily made out that the restraint must be small, for its representative is the divided line in the fourth place; and the check given by that to all the undivided lines cannot be great. Even if we suppose, as many critics do, that all the virtue of that upper trigram Sun is concentrated in its first line, the attribute ascribed to Sun is that of docile flexibility, which cannot long be successful against the strength emblemed by the lower trigram Khien. The restraint therefore is small, and in the end there will be 'progress and success.'

The second sentence of the Thwan contains indications of the place, time, and personality of the writer which it seems possible to ascertain. The fief of Kau was the western portion of the kingdom of Yin or Shang, the China of the twelfth century B. C., the era of king Wan. Rain coming and moistening the ground is the cause of the beauty and luxuriance of the vegetable world, and the emblem of the blessings flowing from good training and good government. Here therefore in the west, the hereditary territory of the house of Kau, are blessings which might enrich the whole kingdom; but they are somehow restrained. The dense clouds do not empty their stores.

P. Regis says:—'To declare openly that no rain fell from the heavens long covered with dense clouds over the great tract of country, which stretched from the western border to the court and on to the eastern sea, was nothing else but leaving it to all thoughtful minds to draw the conclusion that the family of Wan was as worthy of the supreme seat as that of Shau, the tyrant, however ancient, was unworthy of it (vol. i, p. 356).' The intimation is not put in the Text, however, so clearly as by P. Regis.

Comments on the Thwan

1. In Hsiao Khu the weak line occupies its (proper) position, and (the lines) above and below respond to it. Hence comes the name of Hsiao Khu (Small Restraint).

2. (It presents the symbols of) strength and flexibility. Strong lines are in the central places, and the will (of their subjects) will have free course. Thus it indicates that there will be progress and success.

3. 'Dense clouds but no rain' indicate the movement (of the strong lines) still going forward. The 'Commencing at our western border' indicates that the (beneficial) influence has not yet been widely displayed.

[Legge] The weak line' is said to occupy 'its proper position,' because it is in the fourth,—an even place. The 'responding' on the part of all the other lines above and below is their submitting to be restrained by it; and this arises simply from the meaning which king Wan chose to attach to the hexagram.

But the restraint can only be small. The attributes of the two parts of the figure do not indicate anything else. The undivided line represents vigour and activity, and such a line is in the middle of each trigram. There cannot but be progress and success.

It is not easy to explain the symbolism of the last paragraph in harmony with the appended explanations. What Khang-zze, Wang Fang, and other scholars say is to this effect:—Dense clouds ought to give rain. That they exist without doing so, shows the restraining influence of the hexagram to be still at work. But the other and active influence is, according to the general idea of the figure, continuing in operation;—there will be rain ere long. And this was taking place in the western regions subject to the House of Kau, which still was only a fief of Shang. It was not for the inferior House to rule the superior. Kau was for a time restrained by Shang. Let their positions be reversed by Kau superseding Shang, and the rain of beneficent government would descend on all the kingdom. This seems to be the meaning of the paragraph. This is the answer to the riddle of it. Confucius, in his treatise on the Thwan, hints at it, but no Chinese critic has the boldness to declare it fully.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) the sky, and that representing wind moving above it, form Hsiao Khu The superior man, in accordance with this, adorns the outward manifestation of his virtue.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 9 The suitability of the symbolism here is made all to turn on the wind. 'Wind,' says Ku, 'is simply the air, without solid substance; it can restrain, but not for long.' The wind moves in the sky for a time, and then ceases. The process of thought from the symbol to the lesson is not easily traced. Is it meant to say that virtue manifesting itself outwardly—in the carriage and speech—is, however good, but a small matter, admirable in an officer, or even a feudal lord, but that we look for more in a king, the Head of a nation?

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject returning and pursuing his own course. What mistake should he fall into? There will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He returns and pursues his own path:'—it is right that there should be good fortune.

[Legge] Line 1 is undivided, the first line of Khien, occupying its proper place. Its subject, therefore, notwithstanding the check of line 4, resumes his movement, and will act according to his strong nature, and go forward.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject, by the attraction (of the former line), returning (to the proper course). There will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'By the attraction (of the subject of the former line) he returns (to its own course),' and is in the central place:—neither will he err in what is due from him.

[Legge] Line 2 is also strong, and though an even place is not appropriate to it, that place being central, its subject will make common cause with the subject of line 1; and there will be good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Khang-zze calls attention to the addition to the duke of Kau's explanation in the notice on line 2, that 'it is in the central place,' adding that this explains how the subject of the line restrains himself, and does not go beyond what is due from him.

3. The third NINE, undivided, suggests the idea of a carriage, the strap beneath which has been removed, or of a husband and wife looking on each other with averted eyes.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'Husband and wife look on each other with averted eyes:'—(the subject of line three is like a husband who) cannot maintain correctly his relations with his wife.

[Legge] Line 3, though strong, and in a proper place, yet not being in the centre, is supposed to be less able to resist the restraint of line 4; and hence it has the ill omens that are given. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Only half of the symbolism in the Text of line 3 is taken up here. Line 1, it is said, is far from line 4, the mauvais sujet of the hexagram, and little affected by it; line 2 is nearer, but, being in the centre, suffers little; line 3 is close on it, and, not being in the centre, comes under its evil influence; while line 6 gives no help.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject possessed of sincerity. The danger of bloodshed is thereby averted, and his (ground for) apprehension dismissed. There will be no mistake.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He is possessed of sincerity; his (ground for) apprehension is dismissed:'—(the subjects of the lines) above agree in aim with him.

[Legge] The subject of line 4, one weak line against all the strong lines of the hexagram, might well expect wounds, and feel apprehension in trying to restrain the others; but it is in its proper place; it is the first line also of Sun, whose attribute is docile flexibility. The strong lines are moved to sympathy and help, and 'there is no mistake.' [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Line 4 is weak, and in an even place, appropriate to it; and hence its subject is said to 'have sincerity.' Being the first line, moreover, of Sun, the two others take their character from it.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows its subject possessed of sincerity, and drawing others to unite with him. Rich in resources, he employs his neighbours (in the same cause with himself).

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He is possessed of sincerity, and draws others to unite with him:'—he does not use only his own rich resources.

[Legge] Line 5 occupies the central place of Sun, and converts, by the sincerity, of its subject, 4 and 6 into its neighbours, who suffer themselves to be used by it, and effect their common object. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Line 5, being undivided, and occupying the most important place in the figure, according to the value usually attached to the lines, is said 'to be rich,' or 'to have rich resources.' With these he unites with the 'subjects' of line 4 to effect their common object.

6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows how the rain has fallen, and the (onward progress) is stayed;—(so) must we value the full accumulation of the virtue (represented by the upper trigram). But a wife (exercising restraint), however firm and correct she may be, is in a position of peril, (and like) the moon approaching to the full. If the superior man prosecute his measures (in such circumstances), there will be evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The rain has fallen and (the onward progress) is stayed:'—the power (denoted in the figure) has accumulated to the full. 'If the superior man prosecute his measures, there will be evil:'—he will find himself obstructed.

[Legge] In line 6, the idea of the hexagram has run its course. The harmony of nature is restored. The rain falls, and the onward march of the strong lines should now stop. But weakness that has achieved such a result, if it plume itself on it, will be in a position of peril; and like the full moon, which must henceforth wane. Let the superior man, when he has attained his end, remain in quiet. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Under line 6 we are told that the restraint is at its height, and the restrained should keep still for a time. The paragraph is metrical. The paragraphs to lines 1, 2, 3, all rhyme together. So do those to 4, 5; and now under 6, we have a couplet:—

Lo! rain, lo! rest, the power is full!
Good man! hold hard. Obstructions rule.'

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