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10. Li [Treading]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

(Li suggests the idea of) one treading on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him. There will be progress and success.

[Whincup] Treading.
He treads on the tiger's tail,
But it does not eat him.

[Christensen] 10 - 履 虎 尾 Stepping on the Tiger’s Tail  
履 虎 尾 不 咥 人 亨 Stepping on the tiger’s tail. The tiger won’t bite the man, it will go well.

[Pearson] (lǚ) Stepping Stepping on the tail of a tiger. It does not bite you. Success.

[Redmond] 10. 履 Lu Treading
10.0 Treading on the tiger’s tail, the person is not bitten. Make offering. 履虎尾, 不咥人. 亨.

[Legge] The character giving its name to the hexagram plays an important part also in the symbolism; and this may be the reason why it does not, as the name, occupy the first place in the Thwan. Looking at the figure, we see it is made up of the trigrams Tui, representing a marsh, and Khien, representing the sky. Tui is a yin trigram, and its top line is divided. Below Khien, the great symbol of strength, it may readily suggest the idea of treading on a tiger's tail, which was an old way of expressing what was hazardous (Shu V, xxv , 2). But what suggests the statement that 'the tiger does not bite the treader?' The attribute of Tui is pleased satisfaction. of course such an attribute could not be predicated of one who was in the fangs of a tiger. The coming scatheless out of such danger further suggests the idea of 'progress and success' in the course which king Wan had in his mind. And according to [Appendix 6, Section 1, Parr. 8-11], that course was 'propriety,' the observance of all the rules of courtesy. On these, as so many stepping-stones, one may tread safely amid scenes of disorder and peril.

Comments on the Thwan

1. In Li we have (the symbol of) weakness treading on (that of) strength.

2. (The lower trigram) indicates pleasure and satisfaction, and responds to (the upper) indicating strength. Hence (it is said), 'He treads on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him; there will be progress and success.'

3. (The fifth line is) strong, in the centre, and in its correct place. (Its subject) occupies the God-(given) position, and falls into no distress or failure;—(his) action will be brilliant.

[Legge] '(The symbol of) weakness' in paragraph 1, according to Wang Shan-zze (Yuan dynasty), is line 3, urged by the two strong lines below, and having to encounter the three strong lines above. Hu Ping-wan (also of the Yuan dynasty) says that the whole of the lower trigram, Tui, partaking of the yin nature, is the symbol of weakness, and the whole of Khien that of strength. The Keh-Kung editors say that, to get the full meaning, we must hold both views.

Paragraph 2 has been sufficiently explained on the Thwan itself.

Paragraph 3 has also been explained; but there remains something to be said on the Chinese text for 'occupies the God-given position,' or, literally, 'treads on the seat of Ti.' Canon McClatchie has—'The imperial throne is now occupied.' I think that 'the seat of Ti' is synonymous with 'the seat of Heaven,' in paragraph 2 of this treatise on hexagram 5. If Confucius, or whoever was the writer, had before him the phrase as it occurs in the Shu, I, 12, the force of Ti will depend on the meaning assigned to it in that part of the Shu. That the fifth line occupies the place of authority is here the only important point.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) the sky above, and below it (that representing the waters of) a marsh, form Li. The superior man, in accordance with this, discriminates between high and low, and gives settlement to the aims of the people.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 'The sky above and a marsh lying below it is true,' says Khang-zze, 'in nature and reason; and so should be the rules of propriety on which men tread.' This symbolism is far-fetched; and so is the application of it, if in any way drawn from it. But it is true that the members of a community or nation must keep their several places and duties in order to its being in a state of good order.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading his accustomed path. If he go forward, there will be no error.

110111 changing to 010111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.1

Plain shoes.
Advance unharmed.

[Christensen] 初 九﹕ 素 履 往 无 咎 Beginning 9: If you are unadorned when you walk [along the tiger’s tail] you will not fail.

[Pearson] Nine in the first place: Simple walking. In going, no blame.

[Redmond] 10.1 In plain silk, treading onward. There will be no blame. 初九素, 履往. 无咎.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He treads his accustomed path and goes forward:'—singly and exclusively he carries out his (long-cherished) wishes.

[Legge] Line 1 is an undivided line in an odd place; giving us the ideas of activity, firmness, and correctness. One so characterised will act rightly.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading the path that is level and easy;—a quiet and solitary man, to whom, if he be firm and correct, there will be good fortune.

110111 changing to 100111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.2

Treading a level, easy path.
It is auspicious to remain in seclusion.

[Christensen] 九 二﹕ 履 道 坦 坦 幽 人 貞 吉 Second 9: Stepping the Way evenly, the hermit corrects things to be good.

[Pearson] Nine in the second place: Walking the road with sincerity. The person in darkness persists; good fortune.

[Redmond] 10.2 Treading on the road; it is smooth and flat. For the confined person the divination is auspicious. 九二履道坦坦; 幽人貞吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'A quiet and solitary man, to whom, being firm and correct, there will be good fortune:'—holding the due mean, he will not allow himself to be thrown into disorder.

[Legge] Line 2 occupies the middle place of the trigram, which is supposed to symbolise a path cut straight and level along the hill-side, or over difficult ground. Line, is not a proper correlate, and hence the idea of the subject of 2 being 'a quiet and solitary man.'

3. The third SIX, divided, shows a one-eyed man (who thinks he) can see; a lame man (who thinks he) can walk well; one who treads on the tail of a tiger and is bitten. (All this indicates) ill fortune. We have a (mere) bravo acting the part of a great ruler.

110111 changing to 111111

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.3

He seeds dimly
And wlks lame.
He treads on the tiger's tail
And it eats him.
A common soldier
   acts as the great lord.

[Christensen] 六 三﹕ 眇 能 視 跛 能 履 履 虎 尾 咥 人 凶 武 人 為 于 大 君 Third 6: A weak-sighted person can [still] see [something] and someone with a limp can [still] walk, but if they step on the tiger’s tail, the tiger will bite. The warrior acts for his lord.

[Pearson] Six in the third place: The half-blind can see; the half-lame can walk. When you step on the tail of a tiger, it bites the person. Misfortune: the warrior acts like a great lord.

[Redmond] 10.3 The one-eyed can see; the lame can tread. Treading on the tiger’s tail, it gnaws the person, ominous. A soldier serves a great lord. 六三眇能視; 跛能履. 履虎尾, 咥人, 凶. 武人為于大君。

[Smaller Symbolism] 'A one-eyed man (who thinks that he) can see:'—he is not fit to see clearly. 'A lame man (who thinks that he can) tread well:'—one cannot walk along with him. 'The ill fortune of being bitten' arises from the place not being the proper one for him. 'A (mere) bravo acting the part of a great ruler:'—this is owing to his aims being (too) violent.

[Legge] Line 3 is neither central nor in an even place, which would be proper to it. But with the strength of will which the occupant of an odd place should possess, he goes forward with the evil results so variously emblemed. The editors of the imperial edition, in illustration of the closing sentence, refer to Analects 7, x.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject treading on the tail of a tiger. He becomes full of apprehensive caution, and in the end there will be good fortune.

110111 changing to 110011

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.4

He treads on the tiger's tail.
His terror ends in good fortune.

[Christensen] 九 四﹕ 履 虎 尾 愬 愬 終 吉 Fourth 9: By stepping fearfully on the tiger’s tail, it will end well.

[Pearson] Nine in the fourth place: Stepping on the tail of a tiger, fearfully, fearfully. But in the end, good fortune.

[Redmond] 10.4 Treading on a tiger’s tail, terrified, terrified—but ends auspiciously. 九四履虎尾, 愬愬—終吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He becomes full of apprehensive caution, and in the end there will be good fortune:'—his aim takes effect.

[Legge] Line 4 is in contiguity with 5, whose subject is in the place of authority; but he occupies the place proper to a weak or divided line, and hence he bethinks himself, and goes softly.

5. The fifth NINE, undivided, shows the resolute tread of its subject. Though he be firm and correct, there will be peril.

110111 changing to 110101

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.5

Torn shoes.
It is dangerous to continue.

[Christensen] 九 五﹕ 夬 履 貞 厲 Fifth 9: Stepping firmly [on the tiger’s tail] may be considered correct to do, but it is dangerous.

[Pearson] Nine in the fifth place: Resolute walking: persistence, danger.

[Redmond] 10.5 Resolutely treading. Divination harsh. 九五夬履. 貞厲.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He treads resolutely; and though he be firm and correct, there is peril:'—this is due to his being in the position that is correct and appropriate to him.

[Legge] Beneath the symbolism under line 5, lies the principle that the most excellent thing in 'propriety' is humility. And the subject of the line, which is strong and central, will not be lacking in this, but bear in mind that the higher he is exalted, the greater may be his fall. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] If we might translate the conclusion of what is said on line 5, by—'in the position that is correctly appropriate to him,' the meaning would he more clear, though still the assumption which I have pointed out on the Text would underlie the statement; and as evidently as there, what is said under line 6 is but a truism.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, tells us to look at (the whole course) that is trodden, and examine the presage which that gives. If it be complete and without failure, there will be great good fortune.

110111 changing to 110110

Matching Line in Adjacent Hexagram: 9.6

He watches where he treads,
   he studies the signs.
He returns from his journey
   with supreme good fortune.

[Christensen] 上 九﹕ 視 履 考 祥 其 旋 元 吉 Top 9: Look when you step [on the tiger’s tail] and observe any signs that [indicate that the tiger will] turn around. [This is the] basic [method to insure things turn out] for the good.

[Pearson] Nine at the top: Looking at the step, examining the luck, she completes the circle. Great good fortune.

[Redmond] 10.6 Observing, treading, examining are propitious. Their turning back is an auspicious beginning. 上九視履考祥. 其旋元吉.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'There will be great good fortune,' and that in the occupancy of the topmost line:—this is great matter for congratulation.

[Legge] What is said on line 6 is good, but is only a truism. The whole course has been shown; if every step has been right and appropriate, the issue will be very good.

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