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Book of Changes 《易經》

小過 Xiao Guo

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Xiao Guo indicates that (in the circumstances which it implies) there will be progress and attainment. But it will be advantageous to be firm and correct. (What the name denotes) may be done in small affairs, but not in great affairs. (It is like) the notes that come down from a bird on the wing - to descend is better than to ascend. There will (in this way) be great good fortune.

In Xiao Guo (we see) the small (lines) exceeding the others, and (giving the intimation of) progress and attainment. Such 'exceeding, in order to its being advantageous, must be associated with firmness and correctness:' - that is, it must take place (only) according to (the requirements of) the time. The weak (lines) are in the central places, and hence (it is said that what the name denotes) may be done in small affairs, and there will be good fortune. Of the strong (lines one) is not in its proper place, and (the other) is not central, hence it is said that (what the name denotes) 'should not be done in great affairs.' (In the hexagram) we have 'the symbol of a bird on the wing, and of the notes that come down from such a bird, for which it is better to descend than to ascend, thereby leading to great good fortune:' - to ascend is contrary to what is reasonable in the case, while to descend is natural and right.

(The trigram representing) a hill and that for thunder above it form Xiao Guo. The superior man, in accordance with this, in his conduct exceeds in humility, in mourning exceeds in sorrow, and in his expenditure exceeds in economy.

The first SIX, divided, suggests (the idea of) a bird flying, (and ascending) till the issue is evil.

'There is a bird flying (and ascending) till the result is evil:' - nothing can be done to avoid this issue.

The second SIX, divided, shows its subject passing by his grandfather, and meeting with his grandmother; not attempting anything against his ruler, but meeting him as his minister. There will be no error.

'He does not attempt to reach his ruler:' - a minister should not overpass the distance (between his ruler and himself).

The third NINE, undivided, shows its subject taking no extraordinary precautions against danger; and some in consequence finding opportunity to assail and injure him. There will be evil.

'Some in consequence find opportunity to assail and injure him. There will be evil:' - how great will it be!

The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject falling into no error, but meeting (the exigency of his situation), without exceeding (in his natural. course). If he go forward, there will be peril, and he must be cautious. There is no occasion to be using firmness perpetually.

'He meets the exigency (of his situation), without exceeding (the proper course):' - (he does so), the position being inappropriate (for a strong line). 'If he go forward, there will be peril, and he must be cautious:' - the result would be that his course would not be long pursued.

The fifth SIX, divided, (suggests the idea) of dense clouds, but no rain, coming from our borders in the west. It also (shows) the prince shooting his arrow, and taking the bird in a cave.

'There are dense clouds, but no rain:' - (the line) is in too high a place.

The sixth SIX, divided, shows. its subject not meeting (the exigency of his situation), and exceeding (his proper course). (It suggests the idea of) a bird flying far aloft. There will be evil. The case is what is called one of calamity and self-produced injury.

'He does not meet the exigency (of his situation), and exceeds (his proper course):' - (the position indicates) the habit of domineering.

English translation: Legge 1882

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