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Blog post: An interruption

hilary

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An interruption

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(This post’s one of a series about the hidden gems of the Yijing. They may quite often describe things I’ve mentioned before, but I think they bear repeating.

The idea is to point to especially lovely or ingenious or playful ways that the Yi creates meaning and speaks to us – ways that we can easily miss, unless we look. With these posts, I hope to encourage curiosity about what else we might be missing.)

The oracle of Hexagram 4 reads,

‘Not knowing, creating success.
I do not seek the young ignoramus, the young ignoramus seeks me.
The first consultation speaks clearly.
The second and third pollute the waters,
Polluted, and hence not speaking.
Constancy bears fruit.’

And we tend to take a lot of notice of the part about the speaker not seeking the young ignoramus, especially since it usually feels like we’re being put very firmly in our place.

But this is about the rest of the oracle – actually just three words, heng li zhen, translated above as ‘creating success – bearing fruit – constancy’. These words are part of the mantic formula that opens the whole book, yuan heng li zhen: from the source, creating success, constancy bears fruit. Behind those meanings lie older ones: a successful, well-received offering, and a fruitful divination.

Only a select few hexagrams give all four words, but it’s always interesting to see how they vary the formula. Some simply insert the name of the hexagram in place of yuan – Hexagram 31, for instance

‘Influence, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.
Taking a woman, good fortune.’

Hexagrams 58 and 62 do the same – and actually, so does Hexagram 4:

‘Not knowing, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.’

Except that the flow from heng to li zhen, from the offering to the fruitful divination, gets interrupted by the young ignoramus and her repeat questioning.

In other words, this passage doesn’t just describe a disruption of the divinatory process through importunate questioning: it enacts it.

This kind of thing, using language to enact what it describes, gets modern literary critics very excited. But never mind them. The point is that this interruption to the familiar yuan heng li zhen formula (given in its entirety in Hexagrams 1, 2 and 3) makes us feel the disruptive effect of constant questioning – and then reassurance that, even when we’re young and ignorant, constancy still bears fruit.
 

rosada

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I see hexagram 4. Youthful folly as describing a situation where the seeker has no previous experience and therefor no answers make any sense. For example, if you asked "What is flying like?" and got the answer, "It's like skiing" the answer doesn't help if you have no experience with skiing. So the back and forth striving for answers doesn't remove the confusion and bloody tears flow and the Inexperienced Fool asks his question yet again. What is this question anyway? The first three hexagrams all answer "constancy bears fruit" (or brings good fortune) and yet it seems the young fool still keeps saying "I don't get it! I don't understand!" so perhaps what he is asking is, "What is perseverance?" and because he's young he's never yet experienced anything like persevering so the only way he can come to understand the concept is by experiencing it, that is, by persevering - and thus we next come to 5.Waiting, which maybe the surest way to create the perseverance experience.

Interesting how the benevolent Yi after swearing he will give no further answers relents and at the end of the hissy fit - Judgement - repeats again, "Constancy bears fruit."
 
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hilary

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Interesting idea, the lack of previous experience. I've seen the same sort of thing from a different angle: wanting to get answers now when in fact I need to learn from experience and there isn't a shortcut.

So to you the final 'constancy bears fruit' sounds like Yi relenting? An, 'Oh, all right then, since I know you mean well...'?
 

rosada

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Exactly! Maybe repeating the advice yet again is the I Ching enacting perseverance!
 

Trojina

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It's hard for me to follow the blog post because I don't know the ancient chinese (also there's no picture and there's always a picture what's going on ?) so I'm barely aware of the



But this is about the rest of the oracle – actually just three words, heng li zhen, translated above as ‘creating success – bearing fruit – constancy’. These words are part of the mantic formula that opens the whole book, yuan heng li zhen: from the source, creating success, constancy bears fruit. Behind those meanings lie older ones: a successful, well-received offering, and a fruitful divination.

I guess for me I switch off the mantric formula somewhat. Constancy isn't the same as perseverance is it ? You've explained it before, it's a difficult word to translate to English. To me 'constancy' in Yi means being faithful to something, putting your best intent in. I don't see it as meaning keep on and on and on as in 'persevere' although I suppose they may not be that far apart.

Interesting to think 4 itself is the interruption but I can't follow how ? The word for 'yuan' is replaced by the hexagram name as it is in 31, 58 and 62 to but I don't see this, where the interruption is as described below


Except that the flow from heng to li zhen, from the offering to the fruitful divination, gets interrupted by the young ignoramus and her repeat questioning.

It says

‘Not knowing, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.’


Where is the flow interrupted ? It says hexagram name and then 'creating success, Constancy bears fruit ' which presumably is heng li zhen so what part of it is interrupted ?
 

hilary

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Just realised I missed a prime opportunity to include a picture of a mountain. Rats.

To me 'constancy' in Yi means being faithful to something, putting your best intent in. I don't see it as meaning keep on and on and on as in 'persevere' although I suppose they may not be that far apart.
I find if I remember the word means 'divination' originally, and let that blur gently in my brain into the meaning of 'constancy', what emerges is a sense of knowing what's true and being constant to that and all it implies / requires. I agree, that won't necessarily mean keeping on and on, but it quite often will.

Here's the yuan heng li zhen article I should have linked to.
Where is the flow interrupted ? It says hexagram name and then 'creating success, Constancy bears fruit ' which presumably is heng li zhen so what part of it is interrupted ?

Hexagram 31:
'Influence, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.
Taking a woman, good fortune.'

Hexagram 58:
Opening, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit.’

Hexagram 62:
'Small exceeding, creating success.
Constancy bears fruit
.
Allows small works, does not allow great works.
A bird in flight leaves its call,
Going higher is not fitting, coming down is fitting.
Great good fortune.'

Now Hexagram 4:
'Not knowing, creating success.
I do not seek the young ignoramus, the young ignoramus seeks me.
The first consultation speaks clearly.
The second and third pollute the waters,
Polluted, and hence not speaking.
Constancy bears fruit.'

See what I mean?
 

IrfanK

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I always think this hexagram sounds so tolerant of youthful folly, like a wise old man listening to the extravagant ideas that he himself once expressed and giving advice knowing that it won't be heeded -- but perhaps it will be remembered in years to come. He probably has fond memories of his younger days himself.
 

Trojina

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ust realised I missed a prime opportunity to include a picture of a mountain. Rats.

At the very least I see justification for a rushing mountain stream.


From the link you posted
If there’s a unifying theme, it seems to be respect creative power in motion – which is not so far away from the dragons of Hexagram 1.

and in 4 the respect for 'creative power in motion' is interrupted, broken up by the oracle or judgement as some call it ?

Yes I think I understand.
 

rosada

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I think of life as being a theatrical where we are called on stage to act out an improvisation. Sometimes though we have no idea what our character is supposed to do so we call time out and ask the director to give us more clear direction.

Hexagram 4. can be seen as the actor/ the fool calling for a time out, an INTERRUPTION in the play one more time because he doesn't know what to do next.

(The director keeps telling him, "Don't ask me! Stay in character! Improvise! Persevere! ")
 
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