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34. Ta Kwang [Strength]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Ta Kwang indicates that (under the conditions which it symbolises) it will be advantageous to be firm and correct.

[Legge] The strong lines predominate in Ta Kwang. It suggested to king Wan a state or condition of things in which there was abundance of strength and vigour. Was strength alone enough for the conduct of affairs? No. He saw also in the figure that which suggested to him that strength should be held in subordination to the idea of right, and exerted only in harmony with it.

This is the lesson of the hexagram, as sententiously expressed in the Thwan.

Comments on the Thwan

1. In Ta Kwang we see that which is great becoming strong. We have the (trigram) denoting strength directing that which denotes movement, and hence (the whole) is expressive of vigour.

2. 'Ta Kwang indicates that it will be advantageous to be firm and correct:'—that which is great (should be) correct. Given correctness and greatness (in their highest degree), and the character and tendencies of heaven and earth can be seen.

[Legge] Paragraph 1. 'That which is great' denotes, in the first place, the group of four strong lines which strikes us on looking at the figure, and then the superior man, or the strong men in positions of power, of whom these are the representatives. Khien is the trigram of strength, and Kan that of movement.

Paragraph 2. That which is great (should be) correct:—that the 'should be' must be supplied in the translation appears from this, that the paragraph is intended to illustrate the text that 'it will be advantageous to be firm and correct.' The power of man becomes then a reflexion of the great power which we see working in nature, 'impartially,' 'unselfishly.'

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) heaven and above it that for thunder form Ta Kwang. The superior man, in accordance with this, does not take a step which is not according to propriety.

[Legge] In illustration of the symbolism of the trigrams here, Khang-zze says well:—'Thunder rolling above in the sky and making all things shake is the emblem of great power.' In passing on to its application he starts with a beautiful saying of antiquity, that 'the strong man is he who overcomes himself.' That this thought was in the mind of the writer of the paragraph on the Great Symbolism I can well believe; but the analogy between the natural and the moral and spiritual worlds in passing from the phenomenon of thunder to this truth is a thing to be felt, and that can hardly be described.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject manifesting his strength in his toes. But advance will lead to evil,—most certainly.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'He manifests his vigour in his toes:'—this will certainly lead to exhaustion.

[Legge] Line 1 is strong, in its correct place, and also the first line in Khien, the hexagram of strength, and the first line in Ta Kwang. The idea of the figure might seem to be concentrated in it; and hence we have it symbolised by 'strength in the toes,' or 'advancing.' But such a measure is too bold to be undertaken by one in the lowest place, and moreover there is no proper correlate in 4. Hence comes the evil auspice. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 1. 'This will lead to exhaustion;' and from that will follow distress and other evils.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows that with firm correctness there will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'The second NINE, (undivided), shows that with firm correctness there will be good fortune:'—this is due to its being in the centre, (and its subject exemplifying the due mean).

[Legge] Line 2 is strong, but the strength is tempered by its being in an even place, instead of being excited by it, as might be feared. Then the place is that in the centre. With firm correctness there will be good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The central position and the due moral mean in paragraph 2 is another instance of the felt analogy referred to above.

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows, in the case of a small man, one using all his strength; and in the case of a superior man, one whose rule is not to do so. Even with firm correctness the position would be perilous. (The exercise of strength in it might be compared to the case of) a ram butting against a fence, and getting his horns entangled.

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'The small man uses all his strength; in the case of the superior man it is his rule not to do so.'

[Legge] Line 3 is strong, and in its proper place. It is at the top moreover of Khien. A small man so symbolled will use his strength to the utmost; but not so the superior man. For him the position is beyond the safe middle, and he will be cautious; and not injure himself, like the ram, by exerting his strength. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] In paragraph 3 nothing is added to the Text; and on the symbolism nothing is said.

4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows (a case in which) firm correctness leads to good fortune, and occasion for repentance disappears. (We see) the fence opened without the horns being entangled. The strength is like that in the wheel-spokes of a large waggon.

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'The fence is opened and the horns are not entangled:'—(the subject of the line) still advances.

[Legge] Line 4 is still strong, but in the place of a weak line; and this gives occasion to the cautions with which the symbolism commences. The subject of the line going forward thus cautiously, his strength will produce good effects, such as are described.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows one who loses his ram(-like strength) in the ease of his position. (But) there will be no occasion for repentance.

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'He loses his ram and hardly perceives it:'—he is not in his appropriate place.

[Legge] Line 5 is weak, and occupies a central place. Its subject will cease therefore to exert his strength; but this hexagram does not forbid the employment of strength, but would only control and direct it. All that is said about him is that he will give no occasion for repentance. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 5. 'He is not in his appropriate place:' this is said simply because an odd place ought to be filled by a strong line.

6. The sixth SIX, divided, shows (one who may be compared to) the ram butting against the fence, and unable either to retreat, or to advance as he would fain do. There will not be advantage in any respect; but if he realise the difficulty (of his position), there will be good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'He is unable either to retreat or to advance:'—this is owing to his want of care. 'If he realise the difficulty (of his position), there will be good fortune:'—his error will not be prolonged.

[Legge] Line 6 being at the top of Kan, the symbol of movement, and at the top of Ta Kwang, its subject may be expected to be active in exerting his strength; and through his weakness, the result would be as described. But he becomes conscious of his weakness, reflects and rests, and good fortune results, as he desists from the prosecution of his unwise efforts.

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