...life can be translucent

Hexagram 6 and the Geography of Thought

In The Geography of Thought – a fascinating book about the differences between modern Eastern and Western ways of thought – I learned that,

“The combative, rhetorical form is … absent from Asian law. In Asia the law does not consist, as it does in the West for the most part, of a contest between opponents. More typically, the disputants take their case to a middleman whose goal is not fairness but animosity reduction – by seeking a Middle Way through the claims of the opponents. There is no attempt to derive a resolution to a legal conflict from a universal principle.”

The author, Richard Nisbett, traces the origins of Eastern/Western differences as far back as Confucius and Aristotle. If he’d gone a little further back in Chinese thought, of course, he’d have found this:

With sincerity and confidence, blocked.
Cautious and centred, good fortune. Completing, pitfall.
Harvest in seeing the great person.
No harvest in crossing the great river.’

Could the principles of Hexagram 6 have become engrained in the psyche – and the legal systems – of whole nations? Or do they just grow from some very deep common root?

10 responses to Hexagram 6 and the Geography of Thought

  1. I believe the first is true–that the principles of not only hexagram 6, but the principles of the I Ching as a whole are ingrained in the psyche, legal systems and entire culture of the nation of China.

  2. Interesting. Are there other examples you can think of, of hexagrams that reflect a particular way of thinking or ordering society?

  3. I believe they just grow from some very deep common root,
    we are all pretty much the same,
    the same life force is living us all
    and i am witnessing that by seeing the great person,
    my Harvest is the best.

    with love


  4. The great man/ person is sometimes an actual judge or counselor or otherwise more knowledgeable person, but it also can often mean one’s own higher nature, higher self.

  5. Hi Stoychi,

    I agree with you and Proserpine. Sometimes you find the great person outside yourself – but you see them because of a capacity within yourself. I’m sure I have a post about this somewhere… ah yes, here it is.

  6. I love The Geography of Thought. It also mentions that there is no Chinese equivalent of the suffix “ness” — Whiteness, Wholeness, Goodness, Redness — and a corresponding lack of verbal or cognitive recognition of an abstract template of perfection or perfect expression. Plato’s idea of the cave of shadows in which we see only the imperfect projections of the ideal is an utterly foreign concept not only to Chinese pattern of thought, but to the language itself. And I suppose this may be one reason why the I-Ching speaks rarely of abstract ideas of “Good” or “Evil” but rather the “Superior” and the “Inferior.”

  7. It’s been a long time – I should read it again, I might learn something! It’s true that the I Ching doesn’t go in for abstractions, but even ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ are to an extent translations into Western culture as well as just into English. What Wilhelm/Baynes has as ‘superior man’ is the ‘junzi’, literally the ‘noble young one’, which also implies someone in a process of education. ‘Inferior man’ is literally a ‘small person’, which also suggests someone with only small resources to draw on. So these, too, are less abstract than we might think.

  8. Richard J. Smith, in his fascinating The I Ching: A Biography, explains that for centuries knowledge of the I Ching was essential for passing civil service exams in countries throughout Asia.

Leave a reply

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).