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Memorizing the I Ching, Hex. 2

rosada

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Hexagram 2. The Receptive
The receptive brings about sublime success.
Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
If the superior man undertakes and tries to lead, he goes astray.
But if he follows he finds guidance.
It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,
to forgo friends in the east and north.
Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.

Receptive: Capable of receiving FAVORABLY, as in responding to the good in a situation.

Mare: A female horse.

Here the I Ching takes up the problem of being receptive to the guidance the tao gives. This is a universal puzzel evidenced by the similar phrases we find in many cultures, such as "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

Anyway, for the purposes of memorization it is useful to note the similarities betweem Hex 1 and Hex 2. "The creative WORKS sublime success," while "The receptive BRINGS ABOUT sublime success."
Hexagram 1 tells us, "Furthering through perseverance," Hex 2 repeats the promise with the added hint "of a mare," not with the perseverance of a race horse who tries to reach the finish line first and in record time, but with the perseverance of a slow gentle animal who follows a guide.

"If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead, he goes astray,
But if he follows he finds guidance."
Just for the purpose of memory, i have an image in my mind of a funeral march. The leader, the UNDERTAKER, has rounded a corner and the follower, bent over carrying the coffin doesn't see this and walks streight ASTRAY into the street.

"It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,"
Feng shui wise, the west/south direction is the area for compatible friends and partnership.

"to forgo friends in the east and north."
Feng shui wise, the east/north direction is for study and individual meditation.

"Quiet perseverance brings good fortune."
The yang hexagram 1 simply promised perseverance would further, but the yin hexagram 2 gives the guidance that it is QUIET perseverance that brings good fortune.
---

In having this group focus on the I Ching one line at a time, it has been my hope that we would find this exercise not just a mind game, but a real life experience, and that as we follow the I Ching in sequence, we will recognize that our study, and maybe even our personal lives, are following the path described by the hexagrams we are focusing on. So I think it's very fitting that upon completion of Hexagram 1 Ewald suggested we make hex 2 a separate thread. That is, we received some guidance as to where to go next! This move not only means we will be easier to find, but also gives the unexpected benefit of allowing conversations on the original thread to continue while we move along with the project. Kinda like letting us have our friends in the west and south while we continue our study in the east and north. Ah, sublime success!
 
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ewald

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rosada said:
If the superior man undertakes and tries to lead, he goes astray.
But if he follows he finds guidance.
The two Chinese characters that Wilhelm here translates with "lead" and "follow," are in the other 6 places in the Yijing where they jointly appear (they are in 2.0, 12.6, 13.5, 18.0, 38.6, 56.6 and 57.5) translated with at first or before and then or later respectively. I think this usual way of translating them fits here as well, and even better:
If the noble one goes somewhere,
he will be confused at first,
later he will acquire mastery.
This of course does not emphasize submissive behavior. Perhaps Wilhelm wanted to say that the all yin hexagram is about compliance. This is not my view however. 2.0 is about a new potential, and sometimes guidance is necessary, but it may also simply be a matter of looking around and getting acquainted with things. The important thing to realize is that one is in a situation one doesn't master yet.
 
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bruce_g

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Seems to me it would be more like:

If the noble goes ahead blindly: confusion.
By following she finds mastery.

I don’t confuse this with mere subservience, but view it more as having a guide or guidance system.
 

martin

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Perhaps it means that the noble one is learning here to be sensitive to and understand the "signs".
The signs confuse her at first but eventually she becomes a master in the art of reading them.

Following signs has not much to do with submission, it is at least not submission to people.
 

ewald

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But the "following" is contrasted with "leading," and this leading is devalued (he goes astray). That highlights a valuation of compliance, as an intended meaning of following.
 

martin

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Ah, I was talking about the original Chinese text and what it may mean, based on your translation.

But then I added "Following signs has not much to do with submission .." and that is perhaps confusing.
I meant that the word 'following' can be used in the sense of 'following signs' (instead of people) and this would also imply 'not leading' (the signs lead instead).

Perhaps Wilhelm had something like that in mind too but it seems that he focuses more on following people.
Or not? I'm not sure. Are his explanations here really a bit fuzzy or is it the Baynes translation? Or is it just me? :)
 

ewald

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Martin - Okay, I see.

Hmmm, there is a difference between the Baynes translation and the original German:
Hat der Edle etwas zu unternehmen und will voraus,
A more direct translation to English would be:
If the Noble One has something to undertake, and wants forward,
So there is actually no talk of leading in the original German text. (The next sentence is translated as I would do it.)

I find it remarkable that Baynes has translated "Edle" with "Superior Man." That is really something different.
 
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bruce_g

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Ewald,

I do not see how compliance equals devaluation.

Earth in compliance with heaven’s way does nothing to diminish earth. In fact exactly the opposite: earth could not bear and nourish life without heaven’s seeding and leading. That is a fundamental principle of Yijing, not simply a question of using the “right” word to describe it.
 
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bruce_g

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Thanks, Lindsay.

From Bradford's translation:

02.0, Accepting
Supreme fulfillment
Rewarding the mare’s persistence
The noble young one has somewhere to go
To lead is confusion
To follow is to learn mastery
Worthwhile west to south:* find companions
East to north:* forgo companions
Secure the certain good fortune

This is in line with my original (Wilhelm-ish) understanding of the gua, and it represents one of the two primal elements of creation or of the creative process. 2.6 takes exception and tries to lead.
 
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bruce_g

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At first there is confusion, later there are gains.
Control is beneficial.
Interesting words, those. It sounds like the entire process through the changes, from 3 to 64. To stretch it a bit, 64 is the arrival of understanding: Control which benefits earth is heaven, therefore strength (of a mare) is in openness (the meek inherits the earth).

This theme is sewn throughout the Changes; too many examples to site here.

At first there is confusion, later there are gains.
(Creative) Control is beneficial.
Friends (force) will be gained in the southwest.
Friends (force) will be lost in the northeast.
Peaceful perseverance brings good fortune.

Sounds like complicance to me.

No-one here kicks against the goads more than I have. Authority and morality are to be challenged. But at the end of the day, I’m either strengthened through my submission to heaven or I’m exhausted through fighting it. The southwest furthers.
 

lindsay

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Sorry, Bruce! The dog ate my translation! I wanted to make a little editing change - you know how we anal-types are about fussing over little details - and Shredder nudged my elblow. Poof! Somewhere in cyberspace is the post you were responding to so graciously. No big loss. Half the people on Clarity have their own translations, and the other half wisely stick to the old standards. "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" - that's what my cat always says.

Lindsay
 
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bruce_g

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The cat noze.

Almost lost my last post to cyberspace too, but my dog is a retriever.
 
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bruce_g

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Lindsay,

But, as you know, I can’t seem to resist mucking up those neat and literal lines, with a splotch of imaginative thinking. And so, though while irrelevant to translation work, here is my childish scribbling of hexagram 2:

Yin
Before the beginning was space for creation. Devoted and strong, open yet firm: Heaven’s wife receives the seed and bears upon herself all things manifest.

Being ignorant is blissful. :D
 

lindsay

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Well, Bruce, like my old mother always said, "a neat translation is almost as satisfying as a neat Jack Daniels."

L.
 
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bruce_g

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(insert chuckle smiley here)

Sounds like your mom and cat spent some time in the southwest! ;)
 

ewald

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bruce_g said:
Ewald,

I do not see how compliance equals devaluation.
I'm actually not aware of having said anything to that effect. What I said was that a valuation of compliance is highlighted, not a devaluation, by the Baynes translation (not Wilhelm's original).
 

rosada

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2. The Receptive - The Image

The earth's condition is receptive devotion.

earth: temporal matters.
condition: state of being.
receptive: willing to receive.
devotion: ardent attachment.

Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
Carries the outer world.
..

Is this saying that as it is the nature of the physical world to be completely responsive to intention, the man who understands this can totally mold reality?
 

martin

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Maybe yes, but then through first adapting to (or going with) what is going on.
Not the insensitive ram bam we-create-our-reality approach that we often see today, in mundane as well as 'spiritual' circles (I would rather call them 'magical').
At least not in this hexagram.
But I think that the Yi on the whole also favors 'first go with it, then perhaps change it'. Although the Yi is not so explicit about it as Lao Tzu.
 

rosada

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Yeah, Martin, I think the "go with it for awhile" idea is key. Probably when one does the realization then comes that we don't need to change a thing after all! Ha!
Anyway, as we take these lines one day at a time I am watching my own "field" to see how they manefest. Thus this week I'm very concious of what being receptive means and following guidance. "Guidance" comes in so many ways. It can be as obvious as actual words or it can be as subtle as one's breath changing rhythm with a new thought.
Now I'm thinking the phrase, "Thus the superior man who has depth of character carries the outer world" is telling us that when we have a broad understanding we can recognize guidance and thus choose to respond and it is our responce that creates the temporal world. I am assuming that studying and applying the principles of the I Ching will give us that broad understanding.
 

rosada

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Been focusing on the word "Sublime" a lot and some beautiful music has seeped it's way into my conciousness. First Joan Sutherland singing opera but then last night the radio played The Temptations singing, "It was Just My Imagination." Geez, just wanted to weep. How else can you respond? Anyway, with The Receptive center stage I'm finding art, flowers and sweeping views of the landscape are emerging in my "field". Anyone else following the syncronicities?

Today's memory byte is a lot to chew. I find it helpful to write out just the first letters of the phrase, and then see if you can recall the whole thing.

example with hex 2.:

T R B A S S
F T T P O A M
I T S M U S A T T L H G A,
B I H F H F G.
I I F T F F I T W A S.
T F F I T E A N.
Q P B G F.
 
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bradford

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Wilhem and Baynes add too many words
and insert grammar that isn't there
and change the word order too.
As succnct and literal as I can make it:

(the) noble young one has somewhere to go (jun zi you you wang)
to be first (is) confusion (xian mi)
to be later gains mastery (hou de zhu)

Look at the horse whiperers. Instead of breaking horses they get them
to follow their natures, their insticts, their innate strengths.
They establish themselves as someone the horse wants to follow.
These authors were more familiar with horses than most of us here,
they were more than symbols of docility and strength.
 

rosada

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Hexagram 2.1

Thank you for this, Bradford. It read like poetry!
It occurs to me that an important question here is not which words best translate the ancient Chinese symbols, but which words best discribe the eternal tao. That is, Wilhelm's translation says the path runs this way, other translations say the path runs that way. How to know which is the better fit can only be known by actually walking the road and then comparing one's experience with the guide book. Therefore I think it would be useful if people would post along with their favorite translations, examples of how one translation differs from another in real life experience. In other words, along with clarifications on the words of Wilhelm, I'd learn from some examples of how the different words are advising different aproaches in real life situations. Perhaps a person could make up a question that would be answered by our current hexagram of study and then illustrate how one author's answer would counsel one approach and then show what a different interpretation would advise. I guess what I'm asking for is some real life examples!
anyway, for now, onward...

2.1
When the hoarfrost is underfoot,
Solid ice is not far off.

Wilhelm interprets this to mean we are being guided at this point to note beginning signs of decay. He says to then "check them", but how can you "check" the coming of winter? Here I think a better translation would say to "prepare" for them.

Real life experience: Because the crop was so abundant, yesterday my neighbor and I were invited to take all the cherries we could pick from a nearby farm. I was exhaulting in our good fortune, but my neighbor cautioned me that such bounty from nature is a sure sign it is going to be a cold winter.
 
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Trojina

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Or theres nothing you can do to 'prepare'. 2.1 can be more a statement of fact, how it is. Asking once about progress of ill health in someone receiving this, I didn't want to see it but all the signs were pointing one way, to death, which of course like winter can't be prevented. Yes the person died, when I got that answer I just knew that was the meaning for me at that time. There isn't always something one can 'do' to fix things, change things or prepare for things, isn't 2 alot about that ? You can't always 'prepare 'for things, sometimes you just got to 'bear things' . Theres still alot in life one has absolutely no say over. I feel i get a sense of the times Yi is saying to me just 'this is how it is'.
 

hilary

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About that post of Lindsay's that the dog ate - deleted posts, it seems, are still there for me to read. So here's that one, copied and pasted. (And if it wants editing, just say.)

lindsay said:
I would like to offer two different translations of the guaci for Hex 2, one based on the traditional Chinese understanding of the text (like Wilhelm) and the other a speculative reconstruction of the archaic meaning for the Zhou:

(1) Traditional:

Earth.
There will be supreme success.
It is beneficial to have the constancy of a mare.
The exemplary person has a purpose to achieve.
At first there is confusion, later there are gains.
Control is beneficial.
Friends will be gained in the southwest.
Friends will be lost in the northeast.
Peaceful perseverance brings good fortune.

(2) Archaic:

Earth.
Let there be a major offering.
A mare's divination [i.e., sacrificing a mare] is favorable.
The well-bred person has a goal to achieve.
First he is confused, later he finds a master.
It will be favorable to gain friends in the southwest,
but forego friends in the northeast.
The divination is auspicious concerning security.

Actually, these translations represent a fair amount of research. It isn't just a matter of figuring out what the characters mean individually, you also have to decide which characters go together to form units of meaning or sentences. This is called parsing, and it's very difficult to figure out sometimes. Many other accurate translations are possible.

Lindsay
 

lindsay

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Thanks, Hilary! I hope it was worth the trouble. The dog and the cat don't seem to think it makes much difference, but what do they know? You really do have awesome powers these days! Jumped over any tall buildings lately in a single bound? Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive?

(You probably don't know what I'm talking about. Phrases like that - along with "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPERMAN!" - were the lead-in to an ancient American TV series of Super-you-know-whom. I think the lead actor died before you were born. If you've never heard of it, count yourself lucky.)

L.
 

rosada

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Trojan's experience with 2.1 also rings true for me. Awhile back I received 2.1 as the hexagram for the day and later that morning discovered I was out of bandaids or some small thing I was wanting. Somehow this tiny loss triggered thoughts of my 91 year old mother, who has always amazed me with her ability to supply what ever the moment requires. I mean, behind her beautiful outer appearance is a pack rat's hide away and whatever you need she will open some mysterious drawer filled with boxes and clutter and manefest it for you. So I guess even though I live 1,000 miles away from her, on this morning the missing bandaids caused me to wonder why something so simple wasn't manefesting, and what had happened my mother, my manefestation queen. That afternoon I received word she had had a minor stroke the night before.
Anyway, point being, I think the "field" refered to in hexagram 1 is created out of our intentions, the focus of our attentions, and it becomes an energy grid that then the slightest blip is immediately manefested in our immediate surroundings. The small lack in my immediate world alerted me something major was going on in my "field'.

Also been thinking that 2.1 could be discribing the touch of nostalgia that one feels in the air at the end of summer. The twinge that sharpens the focus carries pleasantness to a higher by reminding us it will not last. The black dot in the center of the white in the tai chi.

Well, to happier ruminations..

Hexagram 2.2
Streight, square, great,
Without purpose,
Yet nothing remains unfurthered.

This seems to me to be a particularly lovely line. Am I right? I'm getting a little nervous as we get deeper into this journey as I am learning that a lot of what I was interpreting the I Ching to mean doesn't go with what those of you who know Chinese or just more about IC would say. Anyway, I think "Sublime success" discribes situations that are a win-win for everyone, and 2.2 sounds like this is where that sublime arrangement is apparent to all.

Possible Portable Dragon: "It is what it is."
 
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ewald

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Indeed, I have some issues with Wilhelm's rendering of 2.2.
This is the Chinese:
直 方 大 , 不 習 ,
旡 不 利 。


I doubt that the first three characters are meaningfully translated with "Straight, square, great," but I'm actually not sure about what it should be, so I will not go into that.

I don't quite see how Wilhelm can translate 習 with "purpose." It means repetition, to practice, habit, getting accustomed to. The character in front of that, 不, means not, do not, is not, will not, cannot / dis-, un-, -less, and I don't quite believe that without is a correct translation of it. In the Yijing the character 旡 is usually used for without.

In my view, it is also not correct to start the next sentence with "yet," as the Chinese has characters for that, and none of them are here. I also don't quite see how the character 旡 that means without, can be translated as nothing. I'm translating 旡不利 as "without disadvantage."

But like I said, I'm not really sure what this line is about. None of the possible translations that I have tried really satisfied me.
 

Trojina

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D'you know Rosada I never ever have paid any attention at all to the phrase "sublime success", its something I just don't see. A bit like 'find a supportive group and stay inside it' or 'an angry ghost returns to take revenge for past mistreatment' from Karchers work. Like they are phrases when repeated often enough mean nothing at all, to me that is.
 

ewald

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I think "Sublime success" would be better translated as "A source of fulfilment." The "sublime" strikes me as non-descriptive, while the Yijing usually clarifies things.
Similarly "Sublime good fortune" becomes "A source of good fortune" in my translation. It is about an improvement of the situation, so that it gives you more from this moment on.
 

rosada

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"Streight, square, great," seems to be discribing physical perameters like "hight,depth and weight", and if "Without purpose" could also be "Without repitition or practice" then perhaps at this point in our conciousness developement we are being advised to see things as they are, no need to refine our vision further before recognizing it's manefestation.

Other phrases come to mind:
Time will tell.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
...

I like the word "sublime" because it suggests some sort of good fortune beyond man's own capacity to create. Like you've tuned in to the angelic relm. I can only think of certain music as being a suitable example of "sublime", and of course lemon meringue pie.
 
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