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46. Shang [Ascending Upwards]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Shang indicates that (under its conditions) there will be great progress and success. Seeking by (the qualities implied in it) to meet with the great man, its subject need have no anxiety. Advance to the south will be fortunate.

[Legge] The character Shang is used of advancing in an upward direction, 'advancing and ascending.' And here, as the name of the hexagram, it denotes the advance of a good officer to the highest pinnacle of distinction. The second line, in the centre of the lower trigram, is strong, but the strength is tempered by its being in an even place. As the representative of the subject of the hexagram, it shows him to be possessed of modesty and force. Then the ruler's seat, the fifth place, is occupied by a divided line, indicating that he will welcome the advance of 2. The officer therefore both has the qualities that fit him to advance, and a favourable opportunity to do so. The result of his advance will be fortunate.

It is said that after he has met with the ruler, 'the great man' in 5, 'advance to the south will be fortunate.' Ku Hsi and other critics say that 'advancing to the south' is equivalent simply to 'advancing forwards.' The south is the region of brightness and warmth; advance towards it will be a joyful progress. As P. Regis explains the phrase, the traveller will proceed 'via recta simillima illi qua itur ad austrates felicesque plagas.'

Comments on the Thwan

1. (We find) the weak (line), as it finds the opportunity, ascending upwards.

2. We have (the attribute) of flexibility and that of obedience; we have the strong line (below) and its proper correlate above:—these things indicate that there will be 'great progress and success.'

3. 'Seeking (by the qualities implied in Shang) to meet with the great man, its subject need have no anxiety:'—there will be ground for congratulation.

'Advance to the south will be fortunate:'—his aim will be carried out.

[Legge] The explanation of the first paragraph has given occasion to much difference of opinion. Some will have 'the weak (line)' to be 4; some 5; and some the whole of Khwan, the upper trigram. The advocates of 4, make it come from hexagram 40, the weak 3 of which ascends to the strong 4, displaces it, and takes its place; but we have seen repeatedly the folly of the doctrine of changing lines and figures. The ['Great Symbolism,' below] suggests the proper explanation. The lower trigram, Sun, represents here not wind but wood. The first line, weak, is the root of a tree planted beneath the earth. Its gradual growth symbolises the advance upwards of the subject of the hexagram, fostered, that is, by the circumstances of the time.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) wood and that for the earth with the wood growing in the midst of it form Shang. The superior man, in accordance with this, pays careful attention to his virtue, and accumulates the small developments of it till it is high and great.

[Legge] See what has been said on the Great Symbolism in [the 'Comments on the Thwan,' above]. The application which is made of it here may be accepted, though it has nothing to do with the teaching of the Text about the gradual rise of a good officer to high social distinction and influence.

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first SIX, divided, shows its subject advancing upwards with the welcome (of those above him). There will be great good fortune.

[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'He is welcomed in his advance upwards, and there will be great good fortune:'—(the subjects of) the upper (trigram) are of the same mind with him.

[Legge] Line 1 is weak, where it should be strong; its subject, that is, is humble and docile. Those above him, therefore, welcome his advance. Another interpretation of the line is suggested by [the 'Comments on the Thwan']; which deserves consideration. As the first line of Sun, moreover, it may be supposed to concentrate in itself its attribute of docility, and be the lord of the trigram. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 1. Instead of finding in this the three lines of Khwan and their subjects, Khang-zze makes 'the upper' denote only line 2.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject with that sincerity which will make even the (small) offerings of the vernal sacrifice acceptable. There will be no error.

[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'The sincerity of the subject of the second NINE, undivided,' affords occasion for joy.

[Legge] See on the second line of Zhui. Line 2 is strong, and the weak 5 is its proper correlate. We have a strong officer serving a weak ruler; he could not do so unless he were penetrated with a sincere and devoted loyalty. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 2. The subject of line 2 in his loyal devotion to 5 will do much good and benefit many; hence we have the words, affords occasion for joy.'

3. The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject ascending upwards (as into) an empty city.

[Smaller Symbolism] 3. 'He advances upwards (as into) an empty city:'—he has no doubt or hesitation.

[Legge] Paragraph 3 describes the boldness and fearlessness of the advance of the third line. According to the Khang-hsi editors, who, I think, are right, there is a shade of condemnation in the line. Its subject is too bold. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 3. 'He has no doubt or hesitation:'—but this is presuming rather on his strength.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows its subject employed by the king to present his offerings on mount Khi. There will be good fortune; there will be no mistake.

[Smaller Symbolism] 4. 'The king employs him to prevent his offerings on mount Khi:'—such a service (of spiritual Beings) is according to (their mind).

[Legge] Line 4 occupies the place of a great minister, in immediate contiguity to his ruler, who confides in him, and raises him to the highest distinction as a feudal prince. The mention of mount Khi, at the foot of which was the capital of the lords of Kau, seems to take the paragraph out of the sphere of symbolism into that of history. 'The king' in it is the last sovereign of Shang; the feudal prince in it is Wan. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 4. The Khang-hsi editors say:—'Such an employment of men of worth to do service to spiritual Beings is serving them according to their mind.'

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject firmly correct, and therefore enjoying good fortune. He ascends the stairs (with all due ceremony).

[Smaller Symbolism] 5. 'He is firmly correct, and will therefore enjoy good fortune. He ascends the stairs (with all due ceremony):'—he grandly succeeds in his aim.

[Legge] In line 5 the advance has reached the highest point of dignity, and firm correctness is specially called for. 'Ascending the steps of a stair' may intimate, as Ku Hsi says, the ease of the advance; or according to others (the Khang-hsi editors among them), its ceremonious manner.

6. The sixth SIX, divided, shows its subject advancing upwards blindly. Advantage will be found in a ceaseless maintenance of firm correctness.

[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'He blindly advances upwards,' and is in the highest place:—but there is decay in store for him, and he will not (preserve) his riches.

[Legge] What can the subject of the hexagram want more? He has gained all his wishes, and still he is for going onwards. His advance is blind and foolish; and only the most exact correctness will save him from the consequences. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Paragraph 6. When one has reached the greatest height, he should think of retiring. Ambition otherwise may overleap itself.

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