41. Sun [Diminishing]
Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)
In (what is denoted by) Sun, if there be sincerity (in him who employs it), there will be great good fortune:—freedom from error; firmness and correctness that can be maintained; and advantage in every movement that shall be made. In what shall this (sincerity in the exercise of Sun) be employed? (Even) in sacrifice two baskets of grain, (though there be nothing else), may be presented.
[Legge] The interpretation of this hexagram is encompassed with great difficulties. Sun is the symbol for the idea of diminishing or diminution; and what is said in [the 'Comments on the Thwan,' below] has made it to be accepted as teaching the duty of the subject to take of what is his and contribute to his ruler, or the expenses of the government under which he lives; in other words, readily and cheerfully to pay his taxes. P. Regis says, Sun seu (vectigalis causa) minuere . . . est valde utile;' and Canon McClatchie in translating [the 'Comments on the Thwan'] has:—'Diminishing (by taxation for instance) .... is very lucky.' Possibly, king Wan may have seen in the figures the subject of taxation; but the symbolism of his son takes a much wider range. My own reading of the figure and Text comes near to the view of Khang-zze, that 'every diminution and repression of what we have in excess to bring it into accordance with right and reason is comprehended under Sun.'
Let there be sincerity in doing this, and it will lead to the happiest results. It will lead to great success in great things; and if the correction, or it may be a contribution towards it, appear to be very small, yet it will be accepted;—as in the most solemn religious service. This is substantially the view of the hexagram approved by the Khang-hsi editors.
Comments on the Thwan
1. In Sun (we see) the lower (trigram) diminished, and the upper added to. (But) the method (of action) implied in this operates also above (or, mounts upwards (also) and operates).
2. 'If there be sincerity in this method of diminution, there will be great good fortune; freedom from error; firmness and correctness that can be maintained; and advantage in every movement that shall be made. In what shall this (sincerity in the exercise of Sun) be employed? (Even) in sacrifice, two baskets of grain, (though there be nothing else), may be presented:'—for these two baskets there ought to be the fitting time. There is a time when the strong should be diminished, and the weak should be strengthened. Diminution and increase, overflowing and emptiness: -these take place in harmony with the conditions of the time.
[Legge] 1. All that we see is two undivided lines in the lower trigram, and then a divided one, and exactly the opposite in the upper. But the whole figure could not but have this form from the process of its formation, whether by the gradual addition of the two primitive lines, or by the imposition of the whole trigrams on one another. To say that the upper lines of Khien and Khwan changed places to express the idea of subjects contributing in taxes to the maintenance of their ruler is absurd; and if that thought were in the mind of king Wan (which I very much doubt), it would only show how he projected his own idea, formed independently of the figure, into its lines.
On the second sentence, the Khang-hsi editors say:—'When a minister devotes his life in the service of his lord, or the people undertake their various labours in behalf of their government, these are instances of the ministering of those below to increase those above. But in this way the intercourse of the two becomes close and their aims become the same;—does not the method of action of those below communicate itself to those above?'
In paragraph 2 the subject of contribution, such as the payment of taxes, passes into the background. The Khang-hsi editors say: 'What is meant by diminishing in this hexagram is the regulation of expenditure or contribution according to the time. This would vary in a family according to its poverty or wealth; and in a state according to the abundance or scantiness of its resources. When it is said that there must be sincerity along with a diminution, it means that though such a diminution cannot be helped, yet what is given should be given sincerely. A small sacrifice sincerely offered is accepted. In the language, "There is a time when the strong should be diminished and the weak be strengthened," we are not to find the two baskets in the diminution of the strong. "The strong" is what is essential,—in this case sincerity; "The weak" is what is unimportant,—the amount and manner of the offering. If one supplement the insufficiency of his offering with the abundance of his sincerity, the insignificance of his two baskets will not be despised.'
(The trigram representing) a mountain and beneath it that for the waters of a marsh form Sun. The superior man, in accordance with this, restrains his wrath and represses his desires.
[Legge] 'The waters of a marsh are continually rising up in vapour to bedew the hill above it, and thus increase its verdure; what is taken from the marsh gives increase to the hill.' This is very far-fetched. In the application again the superior man acts only on himself, and for himself;—which has nothing to do with those of low degree giving to those above them. This application, however, agrees with what, as we have seen on the Text, was Khang-zze's view of the meaning of the hexagram.
Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)
1. The first NINE, undivided, shows its subject suspending his own affairs, and hurrying away (to help the subject of the fourth line). He will commit no error, but let him consider how far he should contribute of what is his (for the other).
[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'He suspends his own affairs and hurries away (to help the subject of the fourth line):'—the (subject of that) upper (line) mingles his wishes with his.
[Legge] Line 1 is strong, and its correlate in 4 is weak. Its subject will wish to help the subject of 4; but will not leave anything of his own undone in doing so. Nor will he diminish of his own for the other without due deliberation. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The explanation appended to paragraph 1 seems to be to account for the subject of line 1 hurrying away to the help of line 4.
2 . The second NINE, undivided, shows that it will be advantageous for its subject to maintain a firm correctness, and that action on his part will be evil. He can give increase (to his correlate) without taking from himself
[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'It will be advantageous for (the subject of) the second NINE, (undivided), to maintain his firm correctness:'—his central position gives its character to his aim.
[Legge] Line 2 is strong, and in the central place. But it is in the place of a weak line, and its subject should maintain his position without moving to help his correlate in 5. Maintaining his own firm correctness is the best way to help him. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 'His aim' is to abide where he is, and help the subject of 5 by the exhibition of 'firm correctness.'
3. The third SIX, divided, shows how of three men walking together, the number is diminished by one; and how one, walking, finds his friend.
[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'One man, walking,' (finds his friend):—when three are together, doubts rise among them.
[Legge] Paragraph 3 is to my mind full of obscurity. Ku Hsi, adopting the view in [the 'Comments on the Thwan,'], says that the lower trigram was originally Khien, three undivided lines, like 'three men walking together,' and that the third line, taken away and made to be the topmost line, or the third, in what was originally Khwan, three divided lines, was 'the putting away of one man;' and that then the change of place by 3 and 6, while they continued their proper correlation, was, one going away, and finding his friend. I cannot lay hold of any thread of reason in this. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The Khang-hsi editors observe that paragraph 3 is true indeed of three men; and not of three men only, but of many repetitions of thought or action.
4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject diminishing the ailment under which he labours by making (the subject of the first line) hasten (to his help), and make him glad. There will be no error.
[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'He diminishes the ailment under which he labours:'—this is matter for joy.
[Legge] Line 4 is weak, and in an even place; like an individual ailing and unable to perform his proper work. But the correlate in 1 is strong; and is made to hasten to its relief. The 'joy' of the line shows the desire of its subject to do his part in the work of the hexagram.
5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows parties adding to (the stores of) its subject ten pairs of tortoise shells, and accepting no refusal. There will be great good fortune.
[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'The great good fortune attached to the fifth six, (divided),' is due to the blessing from above.
[Legge] Line 5 is the seat of the ruler, who is here humble, and welcomes the assistance of his correlate, the subject of 2. He is a ruler whom all his subjects of ability will rejoice to serve in every possible way; and the result will be great good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The same editors say on paragraph 5 that 'the blessing from above is explained, by many, of the oracles obtained through divining with the tortoise-shell; but that looking at the text on line 2 of the next hexagram, and that Ti (spoken of there) is the lord of all spirits, the term "above" here is most naturally explained of Heaven's mind, whose acceptance cannot be gainsaid by men or spirits.'
6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject giving increase to others without taking from himself. There will be no error. With firm correctness there will be good fortune. There will be advantage in every movement that shall be made. He will find ministers more than can be counted by their clans.
[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'He gives increase to others without taking from what is his own:'—he obtains his wish on a grand scale.
[Legge] Line 6 has been changed from a weak into a strong line from line 3; has received therefore the greatest increase, and will carry out the idea of the hexagram in the highest degree and style. But he can give increase to others without diminishing his own resources, and of course the benefit he will confer will be incalculable. Ministers will come to serve him; and not one from each clan merely, but many. Such is the substance of what is said on this last paragraph. I confess that I only discern the meaning darkly. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Khang-zze says on paragraph 6, though I do not see the relevancy of his remarks:—'Dwelling on high, and taking nothing from those below him, but on the contrary giving more to them, the superior man accomplishes his aim on a grand scale. The aim of the superior man is simply to be increasing what others have;—that and nothing else.'