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Book of Changes 易經

坤 Kun

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Kun (represents) what is great and originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct and having the firmness of a mare. When the superior man (here intended) has to make any movement, if he take the initiative, he will go astray; if he follow, he will find his (proper) lord. The advantageousness will be seen in his getting friends in the south-west, and losing friends in the north-east. If he rest in correctness and firmness, there will be good fortune.

Complete is the 'great and originating (capacity)' indicated by Kun! All things owe to it their birth; - it receives obediently the influences of Heaven. Kun, in its largeness, supports and contains all things. Its excellent capacity matches the unlimited power (of Qian). Its comprehension is wide, and its brightness great. The various things obtain (by it) their full development. The mare is a creature of earthly kind. Its (power of) moving on the earth is without limit; it is mild and docile, advantageous and firm: - such is the course of the superior man. 'If he take the initiative, he goes astray:' - he misses, that is, his proper course. 'If he follow,' he is docile, and gets into his regular (course). 'In the south-west he will get friends:' - he will be walking with those of his own class. 'In the north-east he will lose friends:' - but in the end there will be ground for congratulation. 'The good fortune arising from resting in firmness' corresponds to the unlimited capacity of the earth.

The (capacity and sustaining) power of the earth is what is denoted by Kun. The superior man, in accordance with this, with his large virtue supports (men and) things.

In the first SIX, divided, (we see its subject) treading on hoarfrost. The strong ice will come (by and by).

'He is treading on hoarfrost; - the strong ice will come (by and by):' - the cold (air) has begun to take form. Allow it to go on quietly according to its nature, and (the hoarfrost) will come to strong ice.

The second SIX, divided, (shows the attribute of) being straight, square, and great. (Its operation), without repeated efforts, will be in every respect advantageous.

The movement indicated by the second six, (divided),is 'from the straight (line) to the square.' '(Its operation), without repeated effort, in every way advantageous,' shows the brilliant result of the way of earth.

The third SIX, divided, (shows its subject) keeping his excellence under restraint, but firmly maintaining it. If he should have occasion to engage in the king's service, though he will not claim the success (for himself), he will bring affairs to a good issue.

'He keeps his excellence tinder restraint, but firmly maintains it:' - at the proper time he will manifest it. 'He may have occasion to engage in the king's service: - great is the glory of his wisdom.

The fourth SIX, divided, (shows the symbol of) a sack tied up. There will be no ground for blame or for praise.

'A sack tied up; - there will be no error:' - this shows how, through carefulness, no injury will be received.

The fifth SIX, divided, (shows) the yellow lower garment. There will be great good fortune.

S. 'The Yellow lower-garment; - there will be great good fortune:' - this follows from that ornamental (colour's) being in the right and central place.

The sixth SIX, divided (shows) dragons fighting in the wild. Their blood is purple and yellow.

'The dragons fight in the wild: - the (onward) course (indicated by Kun) is pursued to extremity.

(The lines of this hexagram are all weak and divided, as appears from) the use of the number six. If those (who are thus represented) be perpetually correct and firm, advantage will arise.

'(The lines are all weak and divided, as appears from) the use of the number SIX: - but (those who are thus represented) becoming perpetually correct and firm, there will thereby be a great consummation.

(What is indicated by) Kun is most gentle and weak, but, when put in motion, is hard and strong; it is most still, but is able to give every definite form. 'By following, it obtains its (proper) lord,' and pursues its regular (course). It contains all things in itself, and its transforming (power) is glorious. Yes, what docility marks the way of Kun! It receives the influences of heaven, and acts at the proper time.

The family that accumulates goodness is sure to have superabundant happiness, and the family that accumulates evil is sure to have superabundant misery. The murder of a ruler by his minister, or of his father by a son, is not the result of the events of one morning or one evening. The causes of it have gradually accumulated,--through the absence of early discrimination. The words of the Yi, 'He treads on the hoar-frost; the strong ice will come (by and by),' show the natural (issue and growth of things).

'Straight' indicates the correctness (of the internal principle), and 'square,' the righteousness (of the external act). The superior man, (thus represented), by his self-reverence maintains the inward (correctness), and in righteousness adjusts his external acts. His reverence and righteousness being (thus) established, his virtues are not solitary instances or of a single class. 'Straight, square, and great, working his operations, without repeated efforts, in every respect advantageous:'--this shows how (such a one) has no doubts as to what he does.

Although (the subject of) this divided line has excellent qualities, he (does not display them, but) keeps them under restraint. 'If he engage with them in the service of the king, and be successful, he will not claim that success for himself:'--this is the way of the earth, of a wife, of a minister. The way of the earth is-'not to claim the merit of achievement,' but on behalf (of heaven) to bring things to their proper issue. Through the changes and transformations produced by heaven and earth, plants and trees grow luxuriantly. If (the reciprocal influence of) heaven and earth were shut up and restrained, we should have (a state that might suggest to us) the case of men of virtue and ability lying in obscurity. The words of the Yi, 'A sack tied up:--there will be no ground for blame or for praise,' are in reality a lesson of caution.

The superior man (emblemed here) by the yellow and correct (colour), is possessed of comprehension and discrimination. He occupies the correct position (of supremacy), but (that emblem) is on (the lower part of) his person. His excellence is in the centre (of his being), but it diffuses a complacency over his four limbs, and is manifested in his (conduct of) affairs:--this is the perfection of excellence.

(The subject of) the yin (or divided line) thinking himself equal to the (subject of the) yang, or undivided line, there is sure to be 'a contest.' As if indignant at there being no acknowledgment of the (superiority of the subject of the) yang line, (the text) uses the term 'dragons.' But still the (subject of neither line) can leave his class, and hence we have 'the blood' mentioned. The mention of that as being (both) 'azure and yellow' indicates the mixture of heaven and earth. Heaven's (colour) is azure and earth's is yellow.

English translation: Legge 1882

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