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Thread: #37: Your Family Is Not Quite Correct

  1. #1
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    Default #37: Your Family Is Not Quite Correct

    ...But don't worry; no one's is!

    I've been exploring deeper shades of meaning in Hexagram #37 - The Family. This hexagram appears to be a focal point for me this year.

    One thing I noticed recently about the lines of #37 is that they are "almost" correct, but not quite. Replace one yan line with a yin and you have #63, Already Fording.

    This seems curious to me...

    Family is "not quite correct." Hmmm. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of folks have felt this way when thinking about their own family. Mine's pretty quirky, to say the least. And I've always felt that my family was just..."not quite correct."

    And which line is "incorrect?": The top line - the line of authority. And who are the authorities in the family: Mum & Dad, of course!

    ...hmmm. Also intriguing.


    In short, the I Ching confirms what teenagers all implicit know: that all families possess at least some degree of dysfunctionality.

    Whew! I was just beginning to worry that I'd never live up the the Ching's impossibly noble familial standards! (Read more on how I've used Hexagram #37 to make sense of family dysfunction.)

    Top o' the Morning to ye'
    Eric

  2. #2

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    Two things about your observations about 37:

    * Hex 37's not unusual in having variations which are 'less than ideal situations' imaged in the individual lines - most of the hexagrams have that.

    * The idea of a dysfunctional family is a very western phenomenon. If you go to places like Tibet or the Phillipines, family has a much more positive value in people's minds; it's only in the west where in some circles 'family' is a bit of a dirty word. So if you see dysfunctionality in family, that's one thing; but if you think that's built into the meanings contained in 37, I think you're seeing something there that the authors never intended. They were aware that sometimes things go off track (check out 37.3, for instance) but for them the family had *such* a positive value.

    Finally, you talk about the top line being incorrect. What do you mean by that? I see no indication of incorrectness in 37.6.
    Blessings on your harey lotus feet

  3. #3
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    Default Why do you like the argue so much?

    Dobro, why do you like the argue so much? Furthermore, when you make an argument, it's good practice to back up your claims with some solid facts and research, rather than just spouting off opinions to be contrary.

    --------------------------

    Let me clarify what I meant by saying the top line is incorrect.

    I didn't mean change line 6; I meant - if the top line of #37 were yin instead of yan, then all the lines of the hexagram would be in their "correct" positions (cf. #63). The only line not in its (philosophically) correct position in #37 is the top line of the outer trigram. If you study I Ching linear philosophy, then you know that the top line of any hexagram corresponds to authority - in this case, the authority of the family. Hence, #37 is almost correct, but not quite, as the authority-line or the authority-position is the incorrect one.

    On your point about the concept of dysfunctional family not existing in ancient civilizations, a few quotes from some pretty authoritative sources on the matter:

    "[The Oresteia, a Greek Tragedy] The trilogy tells the story of the House of Atreus, a dysfunctional family with a nasty episode of cannibalism in its closet. "

    "...Sumerian, Egyptian, and other mythologies, then one is astounded by two facts. One is that these so-called gods and goddesses constitute a fundamentally dysfunctional family, not... to be enthusiastically emulated. "

    " But beginning in 772 B.C.E. in Southern China (and extending until 481 B.C.E.), the so-called “Springs and Autumns Period” began. This consisted of eight lesser periods, when life and limb were cheap, barbaric, and toward the end, “philosophy became more important than war.” This is when Lao Tzu and Confucius arrived on the scene..."

    "Confucius, living in a time of failed families, said that virtue derives from the [setting in order of proper family roles]..."

    "In a given family, the hoju - or head of household ... is required to be wise and benevolent in the discharge of his responsibilities...However, [in ancient Korean families] there were no remedies if the hoju failed to fulfill his responsibilities, and misuse and abuse of the hoju's authority were frequent...During the 500 years of the Yi dynasty, which embraced the Confucian ideology, gender and age-based oppression became codified into law..."

  4. #4

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    Thank you for explaining what you meant by the top line of 37 being 'incorrect'.
    Blessings on your harey lotus feet

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    Hmm, in my family, the one I was born into, it was surely not only the top line that was not quite correct.
    Not much to complain about really, less and less as I become older, somehow the good things stay with me and the not so good stuff, I forget it. It was weird though. A hexagram 64 case?
    But well, I hope my kids don't read this, because they might have something to say about the family _they_ were born into.
    "Family?! Which family?"

  6. #6
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    Is the sixth line the 'authority' position? I'd think of that as line 5. Line 6 might be more the position for grandparents. The ideal expressed in hexagram 37 is a space where everyone finds their own place and can be themselves within that role. (I think.) Ron Masa tells an interesting story of a reading he used to supplement therapy with a woman who came from a thoroughly messed-up family, but who was inclined to idealise it. He was horrified when Yi came up with 37.5, thinking this would just support her delusion. Instead, it was the catalyst that brought her to realise that her father hadn't been anything like that. Anyway... while I don't see any 'incorrectness' in 37, it does contain the idea of incompletion and flux in its nuclear hexagram. And some historian please correct me if I have this wrong, but I believe that Chinese homes were for the extended family, with internal walls moved around to re-define the space as needed.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    Dobro, why do you like the argue so much?
    I don't enjoy arguing actually. But here's something for you to consider: when you read an idea on this site, there are different ways to respond to its content:

    1 You can ask for clarification. (That's what I did in response to your idea about 37.6 being 'incorrect'.)

    2 You can agree with it.

    3 You can agree with it, and add to it.

    4 You can disagree with some of it, and offer a slightly different idea for the bit you disagree with.

    5 You can disagree with the whole idea, and offer a completely different idea in its place. (That's what I did with your idea that dysfunctionality was such a central idea in Hex 37.)

    Perhaps you don't like it when somebody disagrees with your ideas, but that's life on the internet, right? You know, if you don't want somebody to disagree with something you think, then don't post it on the internet. lol

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    Furthermore, when you make an argument, it's good practice to back up your claims with some solid facts and research, rather than just spouting off opinions to be contrary.
    Mmm, on this board, it's not common practice to back up your view with academic citations. Not only that, but I wasn't 'spouting off opinions to be contrary'. I was drawing on my own experience of two Asian cultures I know of to back up my idea that Asians tend to put a very positive value on family, and that they tend not to see family as dysfunctional. I've studied Tibetan Buddhism, for instance, and in that branch of Buddhism they talk a lot about 'mother sentient beings', the idea being that you should deal compassionately and harmlessly with every lifeform you meet in your life because at some point in the past, every sentient being in the universe has been your own mother in a previous lifetime. (This idea often doesn't go down very well with the western students in the class because westerners often have negative associations with their mothers. This puzzles and amazes some of the Tibetan teachers when they first encounter it. They don't get it. Everybody just l-o-v-e-s their mother, they think.) As for the example of the Philippinos I gave, that comes out of dozens and dozens of interviews I've conducted with Philippinos, and based on that, I know that Philippinos put a VERY high value on family - it's right up there next to God for them.

    So, as you see, I wasn't just spouting off, I was basing what I said on personal experience. If anybody was spouting off, it was you, being defensive. You had no idea what I was basing my idea on, but you presumed to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    On your point about the concept of dysfunctional family not existing in ancient civilizations...
    No, I didn't say that family dysfunctionality was absent from ancient civilizations, I said that the concept of it was largely absent from Hex 37. I did point out, however, that deviation from the ideal family was imaged in 37.3. Learn to read, petrosianii.

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    "Confucius, living in a time of failed families, said that virtue derives from the [setting in order of proper family roles]..."
    This is the only quote that has anything much to do with what we were talking about, and it's interesting, cuz it shows clearly that ancient China knew very well about dysfunctionality in families. (I wonder if their idea of dysfunctionality was the same as ours, though? I wonder if Confucius might have seen 'dysfunctionality' in children who were more independent and less 'filial' than the traditional standard?) And yet despite Confucius' observation, it is still true that Chinese culture, ancient and modern, puts a huge positive value on family, and if you don't take that into account when you use Hex 37, then I think you're not getting full value out of its image and what it's saying to you.

    In your first post, you said:

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    One thing I noticed recently about the lines of #37 is that they are "almost" correct, but not quite. Replace one yan line with a yin and you have #63, Already Fording. This seems curious to me... Family is "not quite correct."
    If you follow this line of thinking, then only one hexagram in the entire Yi is correct - 63 - and all of the others are 'not quite correct'. Is this what you think? Or does the 'not quite correct' idea only strike you in relation to 37?

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    And which line is "incorrect?": The top line - the line of authority. And who are the authorities in the family: Mum & Dad, of course!
    Well, no, not really. In 37, the fifth line is the ruler. (Check Wilhelm/Baynes - look, I'm citing my sources!) That's why the king is imaged in line 5 rather than line 6. In fact, if mum is imaged anywhere in 37, it's in line 3, and in the main text. Dad doesn't seem to get a look in, unless you see him as the family 'king' in line 5.

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    In short, the I Ching confirms what teenagers all implicit know: that all families possess at least some degree of dysfunctionality.
    I don't think Hex 37 paints a picture of a dysfunctional family, but I'll say again that line 37.3 clearly images 'something not correct' as one possible variation on family dynamics. But I do agree with you that all families (well, not all, but almost all) possess some degree of dysfunctionality. And it's not just the teenagers that perceive this, but adult children of dysfunctional families as well. Did you know that one of the highest incidences of depression is among people in their 20's? Apparently, one reason for this is cuz when you're a kid or a teen growing up in a dysfunctional family, you're too busy simply surviving, and you don't have time to deal with the psychological issues involved, but when you hit your twenties your system knows it's time to deal with unfinished business and wham! you get hit with depression (which is nature's way of letting you know there is something in you that needs to be addressed). And in my life, the dysfunctionality in my own family became more evident the older I got. The teen years were just a glimpse lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by petrosianii View Post
    Whew! I was just beginning to worry that I'd never live up the the Ching's impossibly noble familial standards!
    Well, you don't have to live up to it, because it isn't impossibly noble at all, it's just positive. And if your family is somewhere on the dysfunctional scale (hey, welcome to the club), then it ain't the end of the world, it's a backhand blessing - you'll be working harder on yourself than the complacent people who come from balanced, loving families (why do work on yourself if you feel you're just peachy and really okay already?).

    Finally, Hex 37 isn't just about the genetic family, it's also about ANY inner group, ANY group that you can belong to as a participating member. This Clarity site is a bit of a family. And is it dysfunctional? Sure, it's as dysfunctional as its membership lol. Seems you're found another dysfunctional family. :lol:

    Yours Functionally

    dobro
    Blessings on your harey lotus feet

  8. #8
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    If you consider Hex 63 to be the "perfect" hexagram, with its evenly alternate distribution of yang and yin lines, then Hex 37 does indeed have one "incorrect" line in the sixth place. This at least is the view of Wilhelm and others who look to the Song philosophers for structural analysis.

    I don't think this necessarily implies that the Family - actually the hexagram is called "jiaren" meaning "family people" or "family members", which may not mean exactly "family" as a unit but more what we imply when we speak individually of "relatives" or "relations" - is a flawed institution. Quite the contrary, in China and other Asian cultures, the family is the foundation of society, the indispensible unit of human civilization. Practically speaking, I think very few traditional Asians would have viewed their extended family as dysfunctional, no matter how difficult or demanding or eccentric its individual members might be. This would be like us calling some institution we believe in - the business corporation or modern political party or board-of-directors model or democratically-elected local government or sports team - as inherently dysfunctional. Some specific examples may operate poorly, but this does not call the whole nature of the institution into question.

    When you look at the texts associated with Hex 37 - texts which predate the "correctness/incorrectness" distinction by 1000 years or more - you notice that all are favorable except for Line 3 - which is itself a "correct" line in the Song scheme. In fact, the textual content of the Yi is often at odds with meanings derived from the structural organization of the hexagrams.

    Where does this leave us? Some people will always favor a tidy, systematic, symbolic approach to the Yi over a less consistent textual interpretation. Others will find room for both. But in neither case is the Yi making judgements about abstract concepts. Strictly speaking, there are no abstract principles in Yi divination, only individual concrete applications. The Yi asks us to reason by analogy, not by deduction.

    Lindsay

  9. #9
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    Interesting thread. Loved Hilary's comments. Line 6 as grandparent makes lots of sense.

    Evidence of family corruption is also reflected in 18, through the mother and father's methods: being too soft and too hard, too lenient and too strict, unconditional vs conditional love.

    When I moved into an apartment alone a few years ago, the next store apartment had a continuous stream of Taiwan people coming and going. I don't know how many lived in that two bedroom flat, but there were at least a dozen. They spanned all generations, and I think they were all related, some, such as college students, were what we would call distant relatives. But there seemed no distance between them that I could tell. I never heard an argument through the thin wall which separated us, not even a raised voice. Very different from any family I've ever known.

  10. #10
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    Line 6 as grandparents sounds very correct as the Chinese show great respect to their grandparents and when they eventually die their photos are put in a place of prominence in the household and are often prayed to for guidance. Don't forget ancestor worship and the special festivals that the Chinese have for the departed.

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