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Blog post: The story of Shock

hilary

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The story of Shock

Seismograph
You know how the lines of some hexagrams unfold and tell a story? Hexagram 53 traces the journey of the wild geese; 1 follows the dragon’s journey across the skies; 48 describes well-repair.

Well… I’m wondering whether something similar might not be happening in Hexagram 51. The name of the hexagram, Shock, means both a thunderclap and an earthquake, and there are a couple of good reasons for thinking of it as an earthquake. Firstly because it ‘spreads fear for 100 li‘, about 30 miles – which could just be a round number used with poetic licence, but could also mean this is an earthquake, not a thunderstorm – and secondly because it’s hard for us nowadays to imagine a thunderstorm as something that would really shake us. And I think Hexagram 51’s lines are telling the story of how we undergo and respond to Shock.

Think of earthquakes for a moment, and travel through the lines of Hexagram 51:

‘Shake comes, fear and terror.
Then afterwards, laughing words, shrieking and yelling.
Good fortune’

‘Shock comes, danger.
A hundred thousand coins lost
Climb the nine hills,
Don’t give chase.
On the seventh day, gain.’

‘Shock revives, revives.
Shock moves without blunder.’

‘Shock, and then a bog.’

‘Shake goes and comes.
Danger.
Intention is not lost – there are things to do.’

‘Shock twists and turns,
Watching in fear and terror,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
The shock does not reach your self,
It reaches your neighbour –
No mistake.
There are words of marital alliance.’

Hexagram 51, lines 1-6

Starting at line 1…

‘Shake comes, fear and terror.
Then afterwards, laughing words, shrieking and yelling.
Good fortune’

51.1

We’re frightened first. That’s what gets us moving, yelling to our neighbours, rousing the village, doing something about it. (This line changes to 16, which is very good at making a noise and galvanising people.)

‘Shock comes, danger.
A hundred thousand coins lost
Climb the nine hills,
Don’t give chase.
On the seventh day, gain.’

51.2

The danger of collapsing buildings, next, and physical losses. We need to get out of the village and climb to higher ground, and not dawdle to look for our lost property. (Changing to 54, because we are really not in the driving seat.)

‘Shock revives, revives.
Shock moves without blunder.’

51.3

Adrenaline flows, we come alive, and are suddenly more clear-eyed (the inner trigram is changing to li) and sure-footed. We fight off lions, or remember CPR – we can draw on whatever reserves we have. (The hexagram change is to 55, with the king at the centre, taking it on.) This will carry us through the immediate emergency.

And then we move on to the outer trigram, the second ‘Shock’. These lines seem different to me: more to do with the aftermath and the longer term.

‘Shock, and then a bog.’

51.4

The conjunction in this fourth line, the ‘and then’, means ‘what follows,’ ‘thereupon’ and ‘complying with’. I think it might be laying emphasis on a close, causal link between shock and the mud that follows. And it’s not just rainstorms that create mud: earthquakes trigger mudslides, and they can also be followed – a few hours or a few days later – by the eruption of mud volcanoes, seething with noxious gases. The first shock is over; now the wheel keeps turning, and the shock comes back to haunt us.

I’ve just been reviewing a lot of readings with this line, and found they very often describe a post-traumatic experience, with someone stuck in an emotional morass. Like the other ‘mud’ lines, there’s nothing so solid here as advice or a prediction; it just is what it is.

‘Shake goes and comes.
Danger.
Intention is not lost – there are things to do.’

51.5

Aftershocks? Perhaps. Or perhaps just the predictable unpredictability of things. We don’t know what’ll come next, but we know something will – there’s no such thing as an uninterrupted ‘normal’. (This one changes to 17, Following, a reminder of the ceaseless flow of change.) Hold onto your intention; don’t drop that ladle.

‘Shock twists and turns,
Watching in fear and terror,
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
The shock does not reach your self,
It reaches your neighbour –
No mistake.
There are words of marital alliance.’

51.6

It’s not completely clear what the shock does here: twists, twines, squeezes, demands? The character, 索, contains the ‘silk thread’ component and Richard Sears says it originally meant ‘rope’. Perhaps it entangles and constricts, perhaps it binds.

I think this line is watching, from its higher, sixth-place perspective, the way shocks recur over time, fearing what’s to come, and wondering how to come to grips with the problem.

This line changes to 21, Biting Through – tackling a problem, and also creating an effective union. You can’t fix future earthquakes with military expeditions (‘setting out to bring order’), but how about forming an alliance for mutual help with someone at least 101 li away?
 

rosada

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Often the first line describes circumstances before we enter the real experience. For example 1.1 cautions that before we commence with Creating it's best to pause and not act. 51.1 however throws us right into shock at the very the first line with no warning and no time to pause or prepare - because obviously a shock is something that happens unexpectedly. Anyway, I just thought that was cool.
 

hilary

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For last year's Hexagram 51 article, I browsed what the Liji has to say about thunder. The Liji is often explained as more of an idealised portrait of how things are in a Golden Age than a strictly accurate historical portrayal. I was quite tickled to learn that a bell would be rung exactly 3 days before the Spring thunder to allow people to prepare.
 

hilary

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That's what I had in mind!

There's an added verse from the early '70s:

'The amorous hippopotamus whose love song we know
Is now married and father of ten,
He murmurs, "God rot 'em!" as he watches them grow,
And he longs to be single again!
He'll gambol no more on the banks of the Nile,
Which Nasser is flooding next spring,
With hippopotamas in silken pyjamas
No more will he teach them to sing...'
 

my_key

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That's what I had in mind!

There's an added verse from the early '70s:

'The amorous hippopotamus whose love song we know
Is now married and father of ten,
He murmurs, "God rot 'em!" as he watches them grow,
And he longs to be single again!
He'll gambol no more on the banks of the Nile,
Which Nasser is flooding next spring,
With hippopotamas in silken pyjamas
No more will he teach them to sing...'
Wasn't that the verse he sang in Russian?
 
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Freedda

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I was thinking a bit about this idea of Hex. 51, which has names, including Arousal, Thunder, Shock, Rousing, Shaken in his (her) being, etc.

I don't think there is a right or wrong here, but I'm leaning towards Hex. 51 as Thunder.

I understand that thunder was traditionally associated with the coming of Spring, when thunder arose from it's resting place within the Earth and proclaimed a new beginning, a new year. Perhaps too this is geographically based: that in the lands of the Zhou and Shang springtime was Thunder season. (Whereas in the US mid-west and west Thunder often happens during the summer.)

I like the idea that thunder is tied to an annual cycle, whereas quakes have no season - they happen when they happen - though for sure, this is more of a personal preference, and not so much something to base my ideas of Hex. 51 around.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where we hardly ever had thunderstorms, but quakes were a different matter. I have been in quite a few of them, including the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. At the time I was visiting friends, and when things began to move we quickly ran outside. There was minimal damage where we were but I can remember seeing the fields rolling in waves around us, as if our solid world had turned liquid. It was shocking, and afterwards we felt some relief that it wasn't worse (at least where we were), but I'd be hard pressed to describe what we felt as 'mirthful words and echoing laughter'

... especially since we assumed that if we weren't at the epicenter of the quake that it would be worse in other places - which it was. (A friend of a friend died when the East Bay freeway in Oakland collapsed on his truck; he was listening to the Oakland. vs. SF World Series at the time, so we want to believe he died a happy man!)

Just the other day I was reading an article in the NY Times, about scientist who are studying thunderstorms in a part of Argentina that are considered the largest and most violent in the world. Perhaps even one large thunderstorm is not as bad as one large earthquake, but in most places thunderstorms happening regularly, whereas quakes do not. I can imagine that the Zhou might welcome the approach of Spring - especially after a long, harsh winter - but I can also imagine that thunderstorms were a mixed blessing: bringing both rains and flooding (and perhaps wildfires as they do in the western US).

Living here outside of Seattle, Washington, thunderstorms are also very rare, though they do happen in the Cascades, a few dozen miles east (large mountain systems and ranges often create their own weather). About a month ago, I was lying in bed and a thunderstorm approached. Being in the house I heard and felt it more than I saw the lightning. And I could actually feel the thunder reverberate in my chest. And I could hear it from far off, getting louder - and feeling stronger - as it came closer.

So, perhaps quake vs. thunder for 51 is based on personal preference and experience. I lean towards thunder but that doesn't make it more or less correct than a quake.

all the best ...
 

my_key

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For me this hexagram has a theme similar to a wake up call. A sudden inner realisation or outer event that shakes your world and urges you to begin some, probably long overdue, course of action.
Thunder as it approaches does give a softer build up but associated with a brewing storm, as you describe, while quake seems to be a more in the moment - has a suddenness to it.

Maybe both ways are appropriate at different times to give the required impetus for a call to resolve the situation.
The shock of tasting a cake made from salt rather than sugar.
The brewing storm of realisation of the consequences of not having paid your mortgage for the last 6 months.

The hexagram also gives guidance on how a person in this time needs to deal with it all. There is an internal action and an external action that needs to be made tomove beyond into the calming waters of Hexagram 52. The superior person in a hexagram 51 situation takes responsibility, accepts , deals with it by facing his fears and adapting.

No Mud No Lotus.
 

rosada

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Thinking about the 50. The Caldron - 51. The Arousing sequence:
There is a method of fortune telling known as scrying where the diviner looks into a mirror or at the surface of water held in a sacred vessel and then is able to see - shocking? - things.
 

hilary

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I don't think there is a right or wrong here, but I'm leaning towards Hex. 51 as Thunder.
I don't think we have to choose: both are kinds of Shock. Also, it's important to remember that thunder then was not the same as thunder now: not a well-understood electrical phenomenon (or at least, something we know someone understands perfectly well), but the voice or instrument of Heaven. If you were struck down by a thunderbolt, that was because you'd done something wrong. When you heard the thunder, it was time 'in fear and dread to set things in order and be watchful.'

It was shocking, and afterwards we felt some relief that it wasn't worse (at least where we were), but I'd be hard pressed to describe what we felt as 'mirthful words and echoing laughter'
You can convey quite a lot of different moods with English translations of this one. 'Mirthful words and echoing laughter' sounds far too festive for me. I'll stick with 'laughing words, shrieking and yelling' - with a note of hysteria.
 
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Freedda

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... it's important to remember that thunder then was not the same as thunder now: not a well-understood electrical phenomenon
Yes, but perhaps the feelings and emotions and imagery of thunder (and/or quakes) might be the same back then as they are now?

One thing that's interesting with the more 'modern view' of thunder - or at least the storms created by thunder clouds - is that they are created by heat, water and wind. I'm still pondering how these might (or might not) fit together from an imagery / trigram point of view.

And also, I still like the idea of thunder being associated with a specific season, Spring - tying it to a new year, a new day, a new beginning ...

I don't think we have to choose: both are kinds of Shock.
Agreed, but we can have a preference - or even have a preference for a particular reading: that maybe thunder and / or quake works, depending on the situation.
You can convey quite a lot of different moods with English translations of this one.
Yes - and that's why I like the meanings associated with the imagery as well! |:: :spinning:

Or ...
When thunder comes, crack-crack,
there's laughing chat, yack-yack,
Though thunder frightens all the land,
no drop of wine falls from the hand.
- Rutt
 
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hilary

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Yes, but perhaps the feelings and emotions and imagery of thunder (and/or quakes) might be the same back then as they are now?
I would think not, on the whole. The physical thrill is the same, but when did out-of-season thunder last fill you with dread and prompt you to sit up all night in fearful self-examination? Though I did once know an elderly lady who was terrified of thunder, and would shut herself up in the littlest room (the only one with no window) with her dog every time there was a storm.
we can have a preference - or even have a preference for a particular reading: that maybe thunder and / or quake works, depending on the situation.
Of course.
Or ...
When thunder comes, crack-crack,
there's laughing chat, yack-yack,
Though thunder frightens all the land,
no drop of wine falls from the hand.
- Rutt
The inimitable Rutt! Have you seen 53.2? That's probably my favourite.
 
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Freedda

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The physical thrill is the same, but when did out-of-season thunder last fill you with dread and prompt you to sit up all night in fearful self-examination?
Yes, you are right in that respect. Perhaps I was thinking that actual thunder has not changed at all, and how I feel it hasn't changed - except that living in possibly more substantial homes might make me feel more safe. But I still felt it vibrate/resonate in my chest and body - as I imagine someone 3,000 years ago. But what that meant to them? And the meaning and imagery it carried for them - I can only imagine (based on the clues and writings they have left).
The inimitable Rutt! Have you seen 53.2? That's probably my favourite.
I'm just starting with Rutt. I like it that he challenges me - as some of his translations are quite different than other people's, or at least those whom I usually refer to.
 

Liselle

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When thunder comes, crack-crack,
there's laughing chat, yack-yack,
Though thunder frightens all the land,
no drop of wine falls from the hand.
- Rutt
:rofl:

Fun fact: he also wrote a knitting book.

I had the stereotypical visceral experience of 51 a couple months ago: was carrying something full of liquid (I forget what exactly, maybe the cats' water dish) - tripped, stumbled, all I thought was don't spill it... literally watched arm, hand, and dish kind of in slow motion. Did not spill it.
 
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Freedda

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And also: In 2009 he was made a Prelate of Honour by Pope Benedict XVI. He was an honorary canon of Plymouth Cathedral.

In one Amazon book rerview someone used his religion and religious role as a criticism of his book (even though this person had not read the book), a.k.a how could a Catholic prelate ever right a good book about the Yi? It was a reminder for me that prejudice and intolerance comes in all forms.
 

Liselle

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It probably is surprising and unusual. I doubt there are many Catholic priests who go in for this sort of thing. Fair question, I'd say, maybe could've been put better. "How do you reconcile the two?", or something.
 

Liselle

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I see you've edited your post to clarify it was an Amazon review by someone who hadn't read the book, and not an interview as you said originally.

(the next day) David and I have worked out that there were some very unusual timing issues here - David had originally, and mistakenly, said "interview," and he corrected it almost immediately. However I'd already sneaked in just-that-fast to comment and so didn't see the correction until later - hence the confusion. All is well now...
 
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my_key

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I had the stereotypical visceral experience of 51 a couple months ago: was carrying something full of liquid (I forget what exactly, maybe the cats' water dish) - tripped, stumbled, all I thought was don't spill it... literally watched arm, hand, and dish kind of in slow motion. Did not spill it.

I had a similar experience many years back at University. Near the end of an intense study period on the affects of alcohol on the human body I stumbled down a small flight of steps with a full pint of beer in my hand. Ended up on my bottom but not a drop of the precious fluid was spilt.

Thunder comes —crack, crack!
Afterward there is laughter and talk—ha, ha! The shock terrifies for a hundred miles,
But he does not let the sacrificial spoon and chalice fall.


There might have been 3 or 4 steps ...... crack, crack, crack, crack.
People around were not in the least bit sympathetic, however the fall did clear my mind somewhat - drunk to sober in an instant.

Like any superior person would do in this situation I examined the fullness on my glass, examined myself for any damage, such were my priorities in those days, and then set about putting things back to rights. Back to the party with glass in hand and a good story to tell.

Perhaps some artistic license hass been applied in this interpretation. ;)
 

Liselle

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It does't really matter, but no, I never changed what I wrote, nor said anything about an interview. It is what it is.
It matters because my comment makes less sense if it wasn't an interview where Rutt was answering questions, and was just someone opining without reading it. I still think it could be a fair and interesting point if the reviewer went about it from a sense of curiosity or something.

(edited - see note above in post #19 - this was weird timing issues to do with making corrections - it's straightened out now.)

But reading an I Ching book isn't necessarily a qualification to review it, either. A couple of years ago or so I think there was some discussion about a review from a respected place like Kirkus or some such - I remember thinking it was pretty bad because the reviewer didn't know enough about the I Ching and said some strange things as a result.
 
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Freedda

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still think it could be a fair and interesting point if the reviewer went about it from a sense of curiosity or something.
The operative word here is 'if'.

The reviewer starts their 2 star review:

'I do not Trust the translation of an Ordained Catholic Priest...How could he possible be un-biased without being a hypocrite?

I cannot for the life of me trust this translation or the so-called history....Reason? It was done be a Catholic Priest. How could this translator/author possibly give an un-biased translation when the doctrines of his chosen faith strictly, and with great prejudice forbids divination and the type of philosophy taught in this text? He obviously doesn't believe in the text he is translating.' ....


If you want, you can read the whole thing and decide how much curiosity they applied to their review.

 

Liselle

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Yes... at the time I didn't know it was just some schmuck in Amazon comments; I thought it had been a proper interview. Have put notes explaining things in my posts.

Wonder if Rutt ever did actually talk about it, though, how he reconciled the two? Would be interesting. Trojina found a YouTube channel called "The Christian I Ching" which is interesting. (If I remember correctly, part 1, the intro/promo, is more of the philosophical discussion; the rest of the series is more to do with the author's particular divining method.)
 

Liselle

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If you want, you can read the whole thing
Have done so, and yes, garbage. Fortunately numerous people, including you, piped up to say so, and a couple of you referenced Biroco (who is qualified to review I Ching books). Hilary also mentions it quite often 'round the site, and wrote a short review.
 
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Freedda

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Fortunately numerous people, ... piped up to say so, ....
Yes, Rutt's honor has been defended! I expect that anyone with a real interest in the Yi or his writings will take the 2-star review as it should be taken ... as you noted above.

Of Rutt's 490+ pages, only 64 pages are the Zhouyi. The rest is also very interesting and well-researched, including what he says about bronze-age China. Not too shabby for heathen, knitting priest!
 

Liselle

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heathen, knitting priest
:rofl:

He certainly did have a wide range of interests, and pursued each of them deeply. (I'll assume that kind of productivity is simply not achievable by most of us mere mortals.)
 

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