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Hexagram 10 and wingless chickens

‘Heaven above, lake below. Treading.
The noble one differentiates above and below,
And sets right the purpose of the ordinary people.’

The Image of Hexagram 10 is really not the easiest one to relate to. It’s more abstract than most, maybe seeming rather ‘dry’. The lake sparkles below heaven… does the junzi draw nothing more from this than ‘differentiating above and below’?

Well, there is an element of just ‘knowing which way is up’ in Hexagram 10. But there’s more to it than that, and I just found a wonderful quotation that expresses it beautifully:

“It is easy to see that the moral sense has been bred out of certain sections of the population,
like the wings have been bred off certain chickens to produce more white meat on them.
This is a generation of wingless chickens, which I suppose is what Nietzsche meant when he said God is dead.”
—Flannery O’Connor

And on a video I came across at Google, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete says of chickens that still have their wings:

“At least they have experience of up and down… another dimension. When you cut their wings in order to improve their usefulness they lose that experience. Flannery O’Connor’s argument was that in order to better parts of our lives – on earth, materially, say – we have lost our wings and cannot tell another dimension, a dimension of interiority for example.”

2 responses to Hexagram 10 and wingless chickens

  1. “Heaven above, lake below. Treading.
    The noble one differentiates above and below”

    I’ve always connected those lines to an image of a blue lake, a blue sky, and the two meeting at the horizon – so much alike it’s hard to be sure which is which, which is Above and which Below. But the noble one does know, stays aware and in the moment and alert to the differences, doesn’t get lost in the beauty to the point where the moment escapes.

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