...life can be translucent

Menu

Blog post: Mountain above

hilary

Administrator
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
16,755
Reaction score
2,128
Mountain above

painting of Chinese mountains
When you’re looking at a hexagram through the lens of its trigrams, I think it’s important to see how they work together, as a trigram picture rather than a dry list of attributes. However, it’s still interesting to single out a trigram and a position (inside or outside), to compare the different ways it can interact.

Mountain, for instance, is the outer trigram of hexagrams 4, 18, 22, 23, 26, 27, 41 and 52. Here’s what it looks like in the first two of those:

Hexagram 4 and its mountain​


This is the first mountain to appear in the Sequence of Hexagrams, rising above the stream. And as befits an introduction, its role here is quite plain. One of the meanings of the hexagram name, meng, is ‘cover’, and the early form of the character shows a pig under a cover:


Meng, ignorance (with thanks to Uncle Hanzi)

(If you can’t quite see the pig there, here’s some help from LiSe.) And if you turn to the Shuogua, you learn that,

Qian is a horse, Kun is an ox;
Zhen is a dragon, Xun is a cock;
Kan is a pig, Li is a pheasant;
Gen is a dog, Dui is a sheep.

Richard Rutt, Zhouyi

So this turns out to be one of those wonderful hexagrams whose shape corresponds exactly to its name: the inner trigram is the pig from the meng character, and the outer trigram, mountain, is the cover. (Of course, the Shuogua authors may have learned that ‘kan is a pig’ by looking at Hexagram 4.)

This mountain-cover can be protective. The character also normally has a ‘plant’ component above the cover, so that LiSe once suggested the pig might be a piglet whose mother pushed it into the undergrowth to hide it.

It could also be a source. A stream under a mountain, like the one in Hexagram 4’s trigram picture, would have its source high up in the mountain’s gathered rain- and meltwater.

And it can be an obstacle. After all, the primary meaning of meng in divination is ignorance: obscured awareness; something getting in the way. If the same word is written with an added ‘water’ component, it means drizzle or mist. With ‘moon’ added, it means dim moonlight; with ‘eye’, it means blindness. For a vivid picture of this ‘obscuring’ in action, see ‘Not Knowing about dodder’. (‘Dodder’ may well be the character’s oldest meaning.)

It’s tempting to identify this obstacle with the speaker’s refusal to answer repeated questions in the Oracle. That certainly feels like a solid, mountainous ‘Stop’ sign. But there’s also the block-headedness that makes us keep asking, instead of listening.

So Hexagram 4’s mountain is an obstacle, a cover that obscures – and also one that shelters, and a source of wisdom. That’s quite reminiscent of the speaker of the Oracle, who both favours you with a clear answer and also obstructs your repeated questioning. A tutelary mountain?

Hexagram 18 and its mountain​


Mountain’s next appearance as an outer trigram (after a brief interlude as bedrock in Hexagram 15) comes in Hexagram 18, Corruption: mountain above wind.

Here, too, the mountain is containing the inner trigram – putting a lid on it, as it were. The name of the hexagram, gu, meant a form of dark magic made with venomous creatures in a vessel. Even though the character doesn’t show the lid on the pot, we know there must be one, to trap them inside.

In the same way, around the world, wind that’s trapped below the mountains has a reputation for being unwholesome, ‘bad air’. And when we cast Hexagram 18, we think of corrupt patterns passed down through families – an oppressive weight of inheritance or tradition, and all things ‘set in stone’. 18’s mountain has all these associations.

Only… if we read beyond the name of the hexagram, Corruption actually turns out to be anything but stagnant:

‘Corruption. Creating success from the source.
Fruitful to cross the great river.
Before the seed day, three days. After the seed day, three days.’

Hexagram 18, the Oracle

A mountain is also (from the Shuogua again) a gate or boundary, and this one seems to be drawing a line between before and after. Hexagram 18 marks a moment when those old patterns can be changed.

The authors of the Image took the picture of ‘bad air’ under the mountain and transformed it:

‘Below the mountain is the wind. Corruption.
The noble one rouses the people to nurture character.’

Hexagram 18, the Image

The noble one is like wind, rousing the people, and like mountain, not trapping but nurturing. This is the exact same phrase that was used for Hexagram 4,

‘Below the mountain, spring water comes forth. Not Knowing.
A noble one nourishes character with the fruits of action.’

Hexagram 4, the Image

Yu, nurture

The noble one 育德 , yu de, nurtures and nourishes de. Yu, ‘nurtures’, originally means ‘gives birth to’ – interesting, when you think of wind or water flowing down from the summit – and by extension to nourish, rear, foster and educate. Again, the mountain above looks something like a mentor.

(More later on the other hexagrams!)
 

Gmulii

visitor
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
229
Reaction score
61

Hexagram 4 and its mountain​

...

This mountain-cover can be protective. The character also normally has a ‘plant’ component above the cover, so that LiSe once suggested the pig might be a piglet whose mother pushed it into the undergrowth to hide it.

This is very interesting idea.
I will expand a little on it adding the Elements, so people using that can find connection to the text as well. I think its awesome as an view to it and nicely aligns with what we use in other systems.

If we look at the Trigram elements, we have Earth on outside controlling Water in the inner Trigram.
The position can be changed in other systems, but lets simplify, so easier to follow..

Earth controls Water, yet here the idea is that the "control" in the elements isn't exactly what the world usually means in English. I think in Kevin Chans material(they are related to bazi, but this specific relations are all over the place) there was nice explanation of the "controlling" that is ke克 in Chinese.
The idea was that its like a bridge high in the air connecting parts of missing path. Now, it is restricting, we can't run in any direction we want. At the same time it envelops, guides and helps us get where we want to be.

It that sense the Earth "controlling" the Water within, can also be viewed as guiding it and sheltering it from harm.
Yet from point of view of the water the relation Earth<>Water is exhausting, as similar to the bridge, the water isn't entirely free to do whatever it wants.

Here one could think that can also show Earth guiding Water also with images of a river bed guiding river. But in the text, there is a lot of importance in the height. So Water have to be on top of the Earth for that, and the Earth needs to be receiving in all possible lines, so can't be Gen has to be Kun. And we can see that in Hexagram 8 right away.
Gen is already higher in height.

As if we have Gen, then we already have height Images from Gen, and now the water moves higher above where water may not be comfortable being and needs to find its way down. Getting down from there with the flowing movement water uses is dangerous, so we get hexagram 39. Very similar to trying to get down from a stair that goes high above, if we are steady and stable it may not be difficult, but water rarely is.

All are Earth and Water elements, but different approaches and ways to them depending on the elements and relations in them as well. Nice time to show that even though these are all Earth and Water relations, it provides different outcome, its always "control/restrict/weaken" relationship, but depending on the type of Earth and its position its the difference between water flowing freely as a river, guided by the Earth, and water high above on a mountain flowing slowly its way down, risking the disappearance when being swallowed by the Earth.
 

hilary

Administrator
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
16,755
Reaction score
2,128
Thanks, Gmulii. How would you describe Hexagram 7 seen through this lens?
 

Gmulii

visitor
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
229
Reaction score
61
Thank you for the question, happy to look into it!
I'm starting to write too much, however, so last post for now, and will cover this in some depth as I think its awesome chance to show different ways the Trigrams can be use.

I like Pig as Image of Kan.
Its also in the water branches, first water month of the year(November for most of it) is the month of the Pig.
It seems wise to keep the Pig image for now and lets look at 7!


In 4 we have a pig that is protected by a mountain.
In 7 we can have pig that is surrounded by a field for most of the year.


We mentioned the height factor, so it can't just be standing in the field, however.
It has to be lower, so it suggests the pig is looking for a place in the ground to get lower, similar to the trenches used in warfare. It has dug the Earth, and is trying(unsuccessfully) to use as protection in the open, as Kun is letting everything around just go through itself. And the pig is alone in the open now.

Mountain can protect, it shelters from the Wind(Wind being Change). Kun however can't shelter, as all channels are passive, accepting whatever comes.If we are accepting everything that means taking the bad things as well, by definition that isn't really protecting much...

So it digs out, it makes some cover from the earth around that isn't helping much and now is ready for the wind and other dangers that may come in the open.

In Wilhelm we have the idea we need a strong leader now. It makes sense, the Mountain is protective, because at the Heaven line it is yang. So there is charge in it, it can protect and provide meaning.
Kun, as an open field, doesn't really protect, while having endless potential for someone to create something new from it, the pig isn't really good with that.

Its easy to think Kan is a yang trigram, because it has only one yang line, however that is in later arrangement.
In Early one Kan is Yin Trigram(lowest line is Yin), so it suggest Kan is the type of "yin" that when the something gets out of balance becomes active. But in its nature its still yin, its active because it has to be often to protect itself.

So while it has a lot of resource but no activity in Kun, it can't really use it as its activity is protective and frenzied more lead by the necessity, then by nature. And again, that is because in later heaven(second son) the polarity of the trigram is the opposite then early.

Now we have a pig, badly hidden in the trenches in an open field.

And it needs leader, because this will never end by itself. It needs reason and it needs something to get active in the upper Trigram(world outside). Depending on what line that would be that may lead to different outcomes, but if nothing is active in the outer world, nothing will change.


This is a good chance to try to see how the "strength in season" idea works.
In the book they were wise, however, they added Images that are somewhat valid all year. Army can be weak, or army can be strong...

Our poor pig can't be too strong, so as an Image it can't be valid all year. Unless we want something like a gigantic pig on a wet sandbox in Winter, but that would be silly.

Considering that when its Winter we need other Images, as Water is very strong during Winter and Earth is very weak.
So lets say we get that Hexagram during the winter.

Now, we can have for example a River carrying a valuable book or a seed.

Again the Earth can't really use the water, even though it controls it(Earth controls Water), Kun is too passive to control anything well. But in this case its even worse, as the Earth is extremely weak, so we can't have a field now, its something small and full of potential and that potential can't ever be used by the river itself, although who knows where it may end up someday...

And its River, because Water is much stronger in the Winter months now. It isn't worried about protecting itself as much, now its in its own season to begin with.

P.S. Of course, army carries Images of Kan. Not only because its the middle son, but also because its something that is Yang in later arrangement and Yin in earler, so something that wants to be peaceful, but has become an army because of necessity. Also because there is the hint of danger there, again something coming from the discrepancies of Yang and Yin in the initial arrangement and in how it manifested .

P.S.S. I'm starting to write too much again, so will stop for now. Thank you, however, for the very interesting topic!
This work with the Trigrams is very beneficial in my view, as it goes beyond what is usually used in the English sources famous in the past and going beyond them is probably a good idea, as there is a lot more there to learn/see.
 

IrfanK

Supporter
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Dec 15, 2011
Messages
617
Reaction score
435
In the same way, around the world, wind that’s trapped below the mountains has a reputation for being unwholesome, ‘bad air’. And when we cast Hexagram 18, we think of corrupt patterns passed down through families – an oppressive weight of inheritance or tradition, and all things ‘set in stone’. 18’s mountain has all these associations.
This is one of those trigram sets that makes perfect sense to me. I always think of Jakarta, which is, as much as I love it, a stinking, corrupt cesspool of vice, built on the sins of an horrific colonial system. It's also horribly polluted, not only because of the hundreds of thousands of two-stroke engines belching out smoke, but also because the air is trapped by a ring of mountains around it. Absolutely 18.
 

dfreed

Inactive
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
1,045
Reaction score
385
Thoughts about Mountain (above, and maybe below too):

In the field of trigam study is the idea of the Baoti, or surrounding trigrams. These are formed by lines 1,5,6 and 1,2,6 and they each 'surround' one of the nuclear trigrams.

Usually they are thought of as 'covering' over the nuclear trigrams, stopping them from manifesting - at least until aspects of the boati are themselves dealt with.

There is, however, another assocation with the baoti: that they act as a womb or incubator for the nuclear trigrams, providing them with a warm, fertile, nurturing place to develop.

On Richard (Uncle Hanji) Sear's website I found: 'bāo', meaning to bundle: wrap, pack; package. And the earliest oracle and seal script characters for bao show what looks to me to be a child in the womb.

bao-02.jpg

bao-01.jpg

So, with this in mind, I might think of Hex 4 as being a situation where Water is being held within Mountain's womb ... at least until it has learned the first lessons Mountain has to teach it (and not the second or third lessons) -- and then Water can begin to flow: 'at the foot of the mountain, a spring emerges.'

*****

I sometimes think of the Hexagram names as 'handles' or perhaps nicknames, so with Hexagram 18: we call it 'Mildew' or 'Corruption' but it's full name might be, 'Detoxifying', or 'A lesson in how one gets the stagnant air (wind) trapped within Mountain flowing again.'

Here the lines give us an understanding of what is causing this stagnation: we have the 'deceased male ancestor' or 'the ancestoral father's corruption' and 'deceased female ancstor, or 'the ancestral mother's corruption' (from lines 1 and 2).

And here Mountain is perhaps acting as baoti - the surrounder, stopping process - until we deal with these corruptions, this toxicity or mildew.

In the family cosmology of the trigrams, Mountain is the youngest son. He too started out as a 'young ignoramus' but has been taught wisely, so who is better suited to teach the inexperiened youth - the unknowing young ones - the lessons that the Yi has to offer.

And even though he is not first in the line of succession to be emperor, perhaps the 'corruption' of ones paternal and maternal ancestors has fallen most heavily on him, so he can best teach others about 'Repairing' (Javary) this situation, and how best to 'Work on what has been decayed' (Wilhelm).

Another meaning for Mountain is that of a strong, separate individual whom has a good/strong sense of 'self' (maybe with good boundaries); so even though trigram Mountain has common meanings and associations, it manifests its 'self' in very individual ways.

I'm reminded of 'The Classic of Mountains and Seas', a 2nd-3rd century BC source which has been considered at times a book of geography, a listing of mythical figures and places, and other narratives. And within the many dozen - or even hundreds - of mountains (and rivers) described, no two are alike; consider:

'Ten leagues ... west is ... Mount Gable. There are quantities of ... jade on its north face. On the west flank there is ... Heron Valley. Willow and paper mulberry are numerous here. On the central slopes ... there is a bird which looks like a mountain pheasant, but it has a longer tail; it is as scarlet as cinnabar fire, and it has a green beak. Its name is wag-tail, ... (and) if you take a dose of it, you won't have things in your eye.

'The River Cross-goblet rise on its south face and flows south to empty into the River Clear. The River Easy-follow rises on its north face and flows north to empty into the River Grain.'


Mythical perhaps, but one thing I glean from this is that Moutains are distinct, they each have their own ecosystems with distinct minerals, gods, animals, plants, and they are the headwaters / sources for different rivers which flow in different directions.

Trigram Mountain is like this: it has 'common' characteristics, but it has different way of manifesting these - distinct ways of being that fit the situations we are have asked the Yi about. And Mountain acting as if its surrounding baoti, or nurtuing baoti, or as the youngest son are examples of this.

Best, D
 
Last edited:

Liselle

Moderator
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 1970
Messages
8,785
Reaction score
1,315
I might think of Hex 4 as being a situation where Water is being held within Mountain's womb ... at least until it has learned the first lessons Mountain has to teach it (and not the second or third lessons) -- and then Water can begin to flow: 'at the foot of the mountain, a spring emerges.'
I like that.

Did you intend to mean it as baoti, though, or as outer and inner trigrams? I'd imagine it could apply either way.
 

dfreed

Inactive
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
1,045
Reaction score
385
Did you intend to mean it as baoti, though ....
Mountain above, Water below are the outer / inner trigrams, but I was exploring the idea that with this hexagram they are interacting as womb-like baoti and nuclear - and more generally, I was exploring the different ways that trigram Moutain manifests its unique 'self'.
 
Last edited:

Clarity,
Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
London.
W1A 6US
United Kingdom

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

Top