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11. Thai [The Great Arrives]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

In Thai (we see) the little gone and the great come. (It indicates that) there will be good fortune, with progress and success.

[Legge] The language of the Thwan has reference to the form of Thai, with the three strong lines of Khien below, and the three weak lines of Khwan above. The former are 'the great,' active and vigorous; the latter are 'the small,' inactive and submissive. But where have the former 'come' from, and whither are the latter gone?' In many editions of the Yi beneath the hexagram of Thai here, there appears that of Kwei Mei, the 54th in order (54_110100), which becomes Thai, if the third and fourth lines exchange places. But in the [Comments on the Thwan for Hexagram 6], I have spoken of the doctrine of 'changing figures,' and intimated my disbelief of it. The different hexagrams arose necessarily by the continued manipulation of the undivided and divided lines, and placing them each over itself and over the other. When king Wan wrote these Thwan, he was taking the 64 hexagrams, as they were ready to his hand, and not forming one from another by any process of divination. The 'gone' and 'come' are merely equivalent to 'below' and 'above,' in the lower trigram or in the upper.

A course in which the motive forces are represented by the three strong, and the opposing by the three weak lines, must be progressive and successful. Thai is called the hexagram of the first month of the year, the first month of the natural spring, when for six months, through the fostering sun and genial skies, the processes of growth will be going on.

Comments on the Thwan

'The little come and the great gone in Thai, and its indication that there will be good fortune with progress and success' show to us heaven and earth in communication with each other, and all things in consequence having free course, and (also) the high and the low, (superiors and inferiors), in communication with one another, and possessed by the same aim. The inner (trigram) is made up of the strong and undivided lines, and the outer of the weak and divided; the inner is (the symbol of) strength, and the outer of docility; the inner (represents) the superior man, and the outer the small man. (Thus) the way of the superior man appears increasing, and that of the small man decreasing.

[Legge] There is nothing to be said on the explanation of the Thwan here beyond what has been noticed on the different paragraphs of the Text. Canon McClatchie translates:—'The Thwan means that Heaven and Earth have now conjugal intercourse with each other .... and the upper and lower (classes) unite together.' But in both clauses the Chinese characters are the same. Why did he not go on to say—'the upper and lower classes have conjugal intercourse together;' or rather, why did he not dismiss, the idea of such intercourse from his mind altogether? Why make the Yi appear to be gross, when there is not the shadow of grossness in it? The paragraph here well illustrates how the ruling idea in all the antinomies of the Yi is that of authority and strength on the one side, and of inferiority and weakness on the other.

Great Symbolism

(The trigrams for) heaven and earth in communication together form Thai. The (sage) sovereign, in harmony with this, fashions and completes (his regulations) after the courses of heaven and earth, and assists the application of the adaptations furnished by them,—in order to benefit the people.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] It is difficult to translate the application of 'the Great Symbolism' here, so that it shall be intelligible to a reader. Khang-zze says:—'A ruler should frame his laws; and regulations so that the people may avail themselves of the seasons of heaven, and of the advantages afforded by the earth, assisting their transforming and nourishing services, and completing their abundant and admirable benefits. Thus the breath of spring, calling forth all vegetable life, gives the law for sowing and planting; the breath of autumn, completing and solidifying all things, gives the law for ingathering and storing,' &c.


1. The first NINE, undivided, suggests the idea of grass pulled up, and bringing with it other stalks with whose roots it is connected. Advance (on the part of its subject) will be fortunate.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The good fortune of advance, (as suggested by the emblem of) the grass pulled up,' arises from the will (of the party intended) being set on what is external to himself.

[Legge] The symbolism of paragraph 1 is suggested by the three strong lines of Khien all together, and all possessed by the same instinct to advance. The movement of the first will be supported by that of the others, and be fortunate. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The subject of line 1 has 'his will on what is external to himself:'—he is bent on going forward.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows one who can bear with the uncultivated, will cross the Ho without a boat, does not forget the distant, and has no (selfish) friendships. Thus does he prove himself acting in accordance with the course of the due Mean.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He bears with the uncultivated, and proves himself acting in accordance with the due mean:'—for (his intelligence is) bright and (his capacity is) great.

[Legge] The second line is strong, but in an even place. This is supposed to temper the strength of its subject; which is expressed by the first of his characteristics. But the even place is the central; and it is responded to by a proper correlate in the fifth line above. Hence come all the symbolism of the paragraph and the auspice of good fortune implied in it.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows that, while there is no state of peace that is not liable to be disturbed, and no departure (of evil men) so that they shall not return, yet when one is firm and correct, as he realises the distresses that may arise, he will commit no error. There is no occasion for sadness at the certainty (of such recurring changes); and in this mood the happiness (of the present) may be (long) enjoyed.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'There is no going away so that there shall not be a return' refers to this as the point where the interaction of heaven and earth takes place.

[Legge] Beneath the symbolism in paragraph 3 there lies the persuasion of the constant change that is taking place in nature and in human affairs. As night succeeds to day, and winter to summer, so calamity may be expected to follow prosperity, and decay the flourishing of a state. The third is the last of the lines of Khien, by whose strength and activity the happy state of Thai has been produced. Another aspect of things may be looked for; but by firmness and correctness the good estate of the present may be long continued.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject fluttering (down);—not relying on his own rich resources, but calling in his neighbours. (They all come) not as having received warning, but in the sincerity (of their hearts).

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He comes fluttering (down), not relying on his own rich resources:'—both he and his neighbours are out of their real (place where they are). 'They have not received warning, but (come) in the sincerity (of their hearts):'—this is what they have desired in the core of their hearts.

[Legge] According to the treatise on the Thwan, the subjects of the fourth and other upper lines are not 'the small returning' as opponents of the strong lines below, as is generally supposed; but as the correlates of those lines, of one heart and mind with them to maintain the state of Thai, and giving them, humbly but readily, all the help in their power. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Ku Hsi explains what is said on paragraph 4, that the upper lines 'are out of their real place where they are,' or, literally, 'have lost their substantiality,' by the remark that 'their proper place, as being weak lines, is below.' The editors of the imperial edition prefer another explanation, on which I need not enter.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, reminds us of (king) Ti-yi's (rule about the) marriage of his younger sister. By such a course there is happiness and there will be great good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'By such a course there is happiness, and there will be great good fortune:'—(the subject of the line) employs the virtue proper to his central position to carry his wishes into effect.

[Legge] Ti-yi, the last sovereign but one of the Yin dynasty, reigned from B. C. 1191 to 1155; but what was the history of him and his sister here referred to we do not know. P. Regis assumes that he gave his sister in marriage to the lord of Kau, known in subsequent time as king Wan, and that she was the famous Thai-sze;—contrary to all the evidence I have been able to find on the subject. According to Khang-zze, Ti-yi was the first to enact a law that daughters of the royal house, in marrying princes of the states, should be in subjection to them, as if they were not superior to them in rank. Here line 5, while occupying the place of dignity and authority in the hexagram, is yet a weak line in the place of a strong and its subject, accordingly, humbly condescends to his one, strong and proper correlate in line 2.

6. The sixth SIX, divided, shows us the city wall returned into the moat. It is not the time to use the army. (The subject of the line) may, indeed, announce his orders to the people of his own city; but however correct and firm he may be, he will have cause for regret.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The city wall returned back into the moat' shows how the (governmental) orders have (long) been in disorder.

[Legge] The course denoted by Thai has been run; and will be followed by one of a different and unhappy character. The earth dug from the moat had been built up to form a protecting wall; but it is now again fallen into the ditch. War will only aggravate the evil; and however the ruler may address good proclamations to himself and the people of his capital, the coming evil cannot be altogether averted.

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