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27. I [Nourishing]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

I indicates that with firm correctness there will be good fortune (in what is denoted by it). We must look at what we are seeking to nourish, and by the exercise of our thoughts seek for the proper aliment.

[Legge] I is the symbol of the upper jaw, and gives name to the hexagram; but the whole figure suggests the appearance of the mouth. There are the two undivided lines at the bottom and top, and the four divided lines between them. The first line is the first in the trigram Kan, denoting movement; and the sixth is the third in Kan, denoting what is solid. The former is the lower jaw, part of the mobile chin; and the other the more fixed upper jaw. The open lines are the cavity of the mouth. As the name of the hexagram, I denotes nourishing,—one's body or mind, one's self or others. The nourishment in both the matter and method will differ according to the object of it; and every one must determine what to employ and do in every case by exercising his own thoughts, only one thing being premised,—that in both respects the nourishing must be correct, and in harmony with what is right. The auspice of the whole hexagram is good.

Comments on the Thwan

1. 'I indicates that with firm correctness there will be good fortune:'—when the nourishing is correct, there will be good fortune. 'We must look at what we are seeking to nourish:'—we must look at those whom we wish to nourish. 'We must by the exercise of our thoughts seek the proper aliment:'—we must look to our own nourishing of ourselves.

2. Heaven and earth nourish all things. The sages nourish men of talents and virtue, by them to reach to the myriads of the people. Great is (the work intended by this) nourishing in its time!

[Legge] Many of the critics, in illustration of paragraph 1, refer appropriately to Mencius, 6, i, chap. 14.

In illustration of paragraph 2 they refer to the times and court of Yao and Shun, sage rulers, from whose cherishing and nourishing came Yu to assuage the waters of the deluge, Zi to teach the people agriculture, Hsieh as minister of instruction, Kao Yao as minister of crime, and others;—all to do the work of nourishing the people.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) a mountain and under it that for thunder form I. The superior man, in accordance with this, (enjoins) watchfulness over our words, and the temperate regulation of our eating and drinking.

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] I do not think that the Great Symbolism here is anything but that of a thunderstorm, dispersing the oppression that bangs over nature, and followed by genial airs, and the reviving of all vegetation. But there is nothing analogous to the thunder in the application. 'Words,' it is said, 'nourish virtue; food and drink nourish the body.'

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, (seems to be thus addressed), 'You leave your efficacious tortoise, and look at me till your lower jaw hangs down.' There will be evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'You look at me till your (lower) jaw hangs down:'—(the subject of the line) is thus shown unfit to be thought noble.

[Legge] The first line is strong, and in its proper place; its subject might suffice for the nourishing of himself, like a tortoise, which is supposed to live on air, without more solid nourishment. But he is drawn out of himself by desire for the weak 4, his proper correlate, at whom he looks till his jaw hangs down, or, as we say, his mouth waters. Hence the auspice is bad. The symbolism takes the form of an expostulation addressed, we must suppose, by the fourth line to the first. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 1. As Mencius said, 'He that nourishes the little belonging to him is a little man.'

2. The second SIX, divided, shows one looking downwards for nourishment, which is contrary to what is proper; or seeking it from the height (above), advance towards which will lead to evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The evil of advance by the subject of the second SIX, (divided),' is owing to his leaving in his movements his proper associates.

[Legge] The weak 2, insufficient for itself, seeks nourishment first from the strong line below, which is not proper, and then from the strong 6, not its proper correlate, and too far removed. In either case the thing is evil. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 2. Neither the subject of line 1, nor of line 6, is the proper associate of 2.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows one acting contrary to the method of nourishing. However firm he may be, there will be evil. For ten years let him not take any action, (for) it will not be in any way advantageous.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'For ten years let him not take any action:'—his course is greatly opposed (to what is right).

[Legge] Line 3 is weak, in an odd place; and as it occupies the last place in the trigram of movement, all that quality culminates in its subject. Hence he considers himself sufficient for himself, without any help from without, and the issue is bad.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows one looking downwards for (the power to) nourish. There will be good fortune. Looking with a tiger's downward unwavering glare, and with his desire that impels him to spring after spring, he will fall into no error.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The good fortune attached to looking downwards for (the power to) nourish,' shows how brilliant will be the diffusion (of that power) from (the subject of the line's) superior position.

[Legge] With line 4 we pass into the upper trigram. It is next to the ruler's place in 5 moreover, and bent on nourishing and training all below. Its proper correlate is the strong 1; and though weak in himself, its subject looks with intense desire to the subject of that for help; and there is no error.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows one acting contrary to what is regular and proper; but if he abide in firmness, there will be good fortune. He should not, (however, try to) cross the great stream.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The good fortune from abiding in firmness' is due to the docility (of the subject of the line) in following (the subject of the line) above.

[Legge] The subject of line 5 is not equal to the requirements of his position; but with a firm reliance on the strong 6, there will be good fortune. Let him not, however, engage in the most difficult undertakings.

6. The sixth NINE, undivided, shows him from whom comes the nourishing. His position is perilous, but there will be good fortune. It will be advantageous to cross the great stream.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The good fortune, notwithstanding the peril of his position, of him from whom comes the nourishing,' affords great cause for congratulation.

[Legge] The topmost line is strong, and 5 relies on its subject; but being penetrated with the idea of the hexagram, he feels himself in the position of master or tutor to all under heaven. The task is hard and the responsibility great; but realising these things, he will prove himself equal to them.

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