Sacred Books of the East/Volume 16/Hexagram 2

Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XVI: The Yî King translated by James Legge
The Text, Section I, II: The Khwăn Hexagram

II. The Khwăn Hexagram.

Khwăn (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.

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

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

3. The third line, 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.

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

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

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

7. (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.

II. The same attributes are here ascribed to Khwăn, as in the former hexagram to Khien;—but with a difference. The figure, made up of six divided lines, expresses the ideal of subordination and docility. The superior man, represented by it, must not take the initiative; and by following he will find his lord,—the subject, that is of Khien. Again, the correctness and firmness is defined to be that of 'a mare,' 'docile and strong,' but a creature for the service of man. That it is not the sex of the animal which the writer has chiefly in mind is plain from the immediate mention of the superior man, and his lord.

That superior man will seek to bring his friends along with himself to serve his ruler. But according to the arrangement of the trigrams by king Wăn, the place of Khwăn is in the south-west, while the opposite quarter is occupied by the yang trigram n, as in Figure 2, Plate III. All that this portion of the Thwan says is an instruction to the subject of the hexagram to seek for others of the same principles and tendencies with himself to serve their common lord. But in quietness and firmness will be his strength.

The symbolism of the lines is various. Paragraph 2 presents to us the earth itself, according to the Chinese conception of it, as a great cube. To keep his excellence under restraint, as in paragraph 3, is the part of a minister or officer, seeking not his own glory, but that of his ruler. Paragraph 4 shows its subject exercising a still greater restraint on himself than in paragraph 3. There is an interpretation of the symbolism of paragraph 5 in a narrative of the Zo Kwan, under the 12th year of duke Khâo, B.C. 530. 'Yellow' is one of the five 'correct' colours, and the colour of the earth. 'The lower garment' is a symbol of humility. The fifth line is the seat of honour. If its occupant possess the qualities indicated, he will be greatly fortunate.

See the note on the sixth line of hexagram 1. What is there said to be 'beyond the proper limits' takes place here 'in the wild.' The humble subject of the divided line is transformed into a dragon, and fights with the true dragon, the subject of the undivided line. They fight and bleed, and their blood is of the colour proper to heaven or the sky, and the colour proper to the earth. Paragraph 7 supposes that the hexagram Khwăn should become changed into Khien;—the result of which would be good.