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Pigs and fishes?

A

ann

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As mentioned in the previous conversation, I too keep coming up with the great man and crossing the water. It happened again today, with 61, change in line 1, 59.

I was asking 'what is going on here?' about a situation where I'm contemplating (ie not yet considering making) major change in the light of some recent events.

I'm reasonably confident in my ability to read what I got, but what flummoxed me was the 'pigs and fishes' image. Is that about abundance of food? Or am I barking up the wrong tree? Sometimes these Chinese images are very hard to interpret.

Thank you for any light you can shed.
 

mick

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Ann,

Excellent question and I agree with you about this image being hard to interpret.

I've never been totally happy with the phrase, "Pigs and fishes".

I think I remember reading that it could mean rank and file, run-of-the-mill people.

Also I remember it being taken as a reference to dolphins, pig-nosed fish maybe?

Perhaps the dolphin represents the inner truth of your emotional intelligence?

I'd be really interested to hear what people have to say.

Best wishes,

Mick
 

louise

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I've always taken it to mean the power of sincerity is so great that it will reach and influence all different levels of creation. Wilhelm says pigs and fishes were considered the least intelligent of all animals, therefore sincerity is so great it will influence even them. I thought pigs were quite intelligent though. There is reference to dolphins in Karchers translation. Thats all I know.
 

hilary

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I must admit, I'm underwhelmed by Wilhelm here. I think the pigs and fishes are signs of good fortune and prosperity - both your own efforts working out, and also the 'gifts from the gods' arriving at the right time. When you are absolutely centred in the present moment, these things naturally come to you.

Wu Jing Nuan adds that pigs and fish are signs of fertility.

About dolphins - some are dismissive of the idea because the Zhou hadn't reached the sea. But there were river dolphins inland, so make your own choice!
 
A

ann

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Thank you everyone. I must say I felt that it was a 'happy' symbol rather than a 'sad' one because you can eat both pigs and fish. These 'symbolic' images are quite hard aren't they? I got a yellow cow today and that sent me scuttling off to Sarah Dening. I find I'm usually in the right ball park, but what must have meant something to the ancient Chinese doesn't necessarily have the same connotations now.

Thanks again!

Ann
 
C

candid

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Hi all,

Its interesting that this comes up today.

Two days ago I was sitting at the computer and turned to look outside my window. There, trudging slowly down the street was a large razorback pig. Now, I live in a country-desert setting and this big pig just didn?t seem to fit into the environment! I went outside to investigate. The pig walked up the stone driveway and made its way to the backyard where it fed and rooted to its heart?s content in the tall, dry grass. I studied this creature on and off for the rest of the afternoon, noting its peculiar traits and on occasion trying to get its attention to see how it would respond. Well - it didn?t - at least not at the distance I was giving it. Totally unresponsive, I mused, a most base creature. Eventually the big oinker made his way around the fence and slowly wandered off down the drainage ditch and out of view.

I pondered this unusual event and it?s possible synchronistic value. Could this be an image of myself? Unresponsive, stubborn and obviously short-sighted? I had to admit that recent events and eminent changes had distracted me to the point of seeing only what was in front of me, and in some ways, oblivious to life?s truer callings and subtle influences, except for the pig, of course!


Fish aren?t much different. A fish lives to eat, proliferate and not much else. It shows no interest in what doesn?t meet its most basic survival.

?Pigs and fishes? is, I believe, an anthropomorphic metaphor of just how difficult we can sometimes be to reach and be influenced and guided by more than our basic survival. To see beyond our concept of basic needs, the force of inner truth must work to quicken our higher nature.

Namaste,
Candid
 

lenardthefast

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Hi everyone. I'm new to the site and have been following the Pigs and fishes exchange. I believe that Candid hit the gong square in the middle as I am in 100% agreement with her evaluation of the symbolism. My own take on the symbolism when I've had it show up in readings was that it was being used to illustrate the power of insight and that even the dullest of creatures can be changed by exposure to that.
Namaste
Leonard
 
A

ann

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How very interesting! Candid, this morning I listened to a whole programme on Radio 4 about coincidence! If you look at www.bbc.co.uk/radio and go to radio 4, you'll probably be able to listen to the programme if you would like to.

This thread highlights what for me is one of the hardest things about the I Ching. You see, Candid and Leonard, you saw a pig as being well, pig headed. I always think of them as being lovely friendly creatures, which are highly intelligent. I like fish too. So what's 'right' in divination terms? What you personally make of a symbol, or what was meant by the original writer who was part of a totally different culture?
 
C

candid

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Ann - This computer is about ready to be taken down and packed for a move, but thanks for the information on the program.

As a sports fisherman, I have a special affinity for the species as well. Throughout history they've symbolized many interesting and spiritual things. However, when used within a particular context to illustrate a point, I apply the symbol for its intended meaning. I won't define this as "right" necessarily, but I think that's most productive and helpful application.
 
A

ann

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Hmm, yes I think you are right Candid. I shall go back and ponder the reading. Of course, one can always ask Yi for clarification
 

louise

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Hi Candid, if you're still there. I think that pig was a good omen - symbolising an opportunity that just wanders in, right into your life (garden). Hope I'm right.
 
C

candid

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Hi Louise,

Yes, I'm all packed and ready to go except for this machine. Won't be leaving until around midnight. Thank you very much for sharing your insight. I hadn't really considered that at all and its a very positive thought. I hadn't realized that pigs are sometimes such an auspicious symbol. Because a big razorback is such an unusual sight around here, it seemed almost dream-like when I saw her and I didn?t have any negative feelings about it, and yes, as you said, she just literally wandered in. This is going to be a big change with many unknowns. I like the feeling of the image as you've described and will hold to it as a positive omen. Thank you again for sharing that.

To all: I hope to be with you again before too long, though that too is an unknown. Peace and great good fortune be yours.

Namaste,
Candid
 

heylise

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I never knew what to make of these pigs and fish, until I translated line 61.3. I found quite different things than most translators:
?Meeting one?s equal enemy. Some drum, some freeze, some weep, some sing?. It shed light on the whole hexagram. I always thought inner truth was a very good thing, morally. But it has nothing at all to do with morale. It is the simple fact of how one is, inside. It is possible to hide part of this inner truth, but in extreme circumstances it shows, no matter how much one tries to hold it back. When someone is really scared, or in a situation of power, and he stays ethical, courageous or social, then you know these are his true qualities. But in safe and easy circumstances most people manage to be fairly good. They don?t even know it themselves if this is not true deep inside.
If you have fear of heights, you know how overpowering inner truth can be, there is no fighting against it.

Now I think the pigs and fish are hard to influence, so they show their inner truth, without any effort to hide it. They are exactly what they show. They are a good example, worth of following. And they both were and still are very ?good? symbols in China, of wealth and fertility. Pigs can be negative, but I never came across an example of fish being regarded as negative, so together I think they are meant as very positive.

Hex.61 deals with all possible issues of inner truth. How to deal with your own, how to recognize the truth (or untruth, or not-showing-truth) of people or situations. Line 1: ?The white tiger: auspicious. When there is a snake, there are no swallows?.
The first character is ?precaution?, but it is a picture of the mythical white tiger. The white tiger will only appear when people take care of things themselves, when they defend themselves, but never bite to kill. When they are vigilant and keep their eyes open, so they notice the small signs of danger or misfortune: when birds suddenly stop singing is always a sign of danger, one of the reasons why many people are afraid of silence.

LiSe
 

bfireman

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This is my first post, so hello everyone! I am sure some of yal have made this connection, but it just struck me as interesting how the Wilhelm/Baynes analogy of pigs and fishes corresponds to how Tibetan Buddhists use this imagery. Have you ever seen one of their "Wheel of Life" thanghka paintings, where at the very center of this samsaric description are a pig, snake, and rooster. The pig symbolizes ignorance, the snake hatred, and the rooster desire. Sometimes in these thanghka paintings, the tails of the rooster and snake are grasped by the pigs mouth, which indicates how desire and hatred have ignorance at their roots. In Buddhist cosmology, we are all "here", because we have failed to realize how these root afflictions give rise to all action, virtuous or non-virtuous, and thus actualize in our lives as varying degrees of suffering within this cyclic existence.

This is interesting to me because it corresponds with the teachings of the I-Ching, in that in hex's 1 & 2 are described the interactions of the creative and receptive, yin and yang energies. First comes the formless image, and only after this does manifestation occur. So one can see how if at the root exists "pigs and fishes", then that is what one will see and experience to some degree... One thing that has been recently driven home to me by the I-Ching is that thoughts are definitely things, and these cannot be hidden, and sooner or later must be seriously looked at and dealth with. Otherwise, pigs and fishes will dominate your life... This last bit might be getting off the point a bit, but I will end with a great quote by Hua-Ching Ni in his book: "You think your mind is as quiet and deep as a bottomless abyss, but your thoughts are as loud as thunder."

Peace yal - Brian
 

heylise

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Very interesting. The pig and ?ignorance? make me think in the first place of hex.4. The ideogram of heng is a covered pig. Hex.4, right after the sprouting seedling of hex.3, things ?become? and the first thing they have to cope with is ignorance.
LiSe
 

bfireman

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LiSe-
Now, THAT is interesting... I did not know that about hex.4. I for the first time got a chance to look at your web page, and I must say there is a whole lot there to digest... a HUGE thanks.

So, I guess the main lesson here, in the buddhist view as well as what the I Ching teaches, is that we are to systematically weed out the deluded views and beliefs represented by the "pigs and fishes" analogy, since this is the source of all else which "becomes". One of the lessons of Hex 4 seems to be that of an undeveloped, confused mind striving for clarity. This, to me, is not a "bad" thing in and of itself, as one must first become aware of one's ignorance in order to do anything about it. A teacher of mine in school used to say, "if you set out to build a sewing machine and you end up with a bicycle, all is well as long as you know you have a bicycle."... Now, this might be getting off the subject a bit, but what is so interesting to me is the similarity here in a general spiritual teaching of first and foremost becoming aware of ignorance in order to take the first step down the road to clarity and truth. This might just seem so obvious, but in my experience it is just those things which one holds onto so tightly as the "truth", that one day get blown away by awareness, and then you are simply left feeling completely ignorant.
- Brian
 

heylise

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I always see all hexagrams as both good and bad (and everything in and outside morals). There are 64 of them, and together they are all there is. Like 64 huge castles, every one with many rooms and doors, towers and stairs. Some rooms are weird, dangerous, evil, mystical, secret, whatever, others are light, happy, wise, stupid, also whatever. Many different aspects of one of those 64 subjects.
So ignorance can be stupidity, but just as well the highest goal of Zen.
Still missing on my website are descriptions of those 64 castles. It is difficult when one does not choose, I cannot describe them as ?good? 11 and ?bad? 12. That would make things a lot simpler, but I don?t think it makes sense. Good and bad are human concepts, I cannot imagine the YiJing is only human, it would never have survived all those centuries.
In myth, good and bad is just a tiny part. There is ethic, but it does not follow the common idea of good and bad.

Thanks for your nice comments about my website. It looks as if there is not changing much lately, but things are germinating, slowly. Putting stone upon stone for those castles.

LiSe
 

bfireman

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Yeahhhh - you are so right. That mental labeling of good/bad is a huge stumbling block for me time and time again. I guess there are many "pigs and fishes" to work through. I have been reading/contemplating the Tao te Jing (not sure if I spelled that right...) lately, and this seems to be one of the common threads running through. It is all relative it seems.... just depends where your vision of the center is. I have no doubt the I-Ching has come into my life lately to help me find that center.

Regarding this good/bad thing though, and here I go again getting trapped in this line of dualistic thinking, possibly a more useful way to feel through this is true/false??? I mean, it does seem that the Yi, Buddhist thought, and all spiritual teachings at their core do make some distinction between correct and incorrect thought, right? It seems that even the concept of tao, as
"the way", also implies at the other end "not the way". Possibly again it is mainly a perspective thing, and just stepping back far enough to see the whole picture.

Regarding your web page, LiSe, I really enjoy the image you put forth of hex 32 as "steadying your boat on the river of life..." That is nice! I threw a 32 this morning for the first time, and now have some real nice images to work with! Take care all - Brian
 

hilary

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Hello Brian, thank you for joining us! This is getting so interesting I can't resist, even though I know I ought to be checking the links in the newsletter and getting on with sending it!

I've certainly received the message from individual readings that 'there are two ways you could take this, and one is good and the other is a mess' - often through pairs of moving lines, though there are also single lines that present alternatives. But I'm not sure that, just by reading the book through and without setting it in context through divination, you could draw up a moral code. (Hm - I mean, I know it's been done, I'm just not convinced that this is really present in the original.)

In practice, Yi seems to describe a huge range of different approaches, and leave it to you to act according to who you want to be - and to identify what is right for you in each moment. There's the 'great man' who very much decides his own fate, and the 'small one' who stays flexible and responds (or reacts), the child who stares innocently at things she cannot control, the settled 'town people' and the nomads... One of the many (many, many...) benefits of LiSe's translation for me has been in challenging the traditional good/bad associations for some of these that most translators stick to like glue.

Well, I really must do some proofreading. Thank you for the new perspectives.
 
C

candid

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Hello again, everyone!

I?m semi-settled in an interim holding pattern. This is real desert ? tarantulas, scorpions and rattle snakes. I look out over the rugged western terrain and expect to see Don Juan?s image appearing through a cloud of red desert sand to teach me of his shaman way.

You know, I?d really love to engage the topic of morality. There are so many views of it, though it can be loaded with land mines of strong emotional attachments. My own view of it, that is, for me, its like a gentle guiding toward something (morality) more than a set of laws laid down in linear fashion. That being said, I also a few personal strong do-s and don?t-s. I suspect that these are a combination of deeply instilled values and also those which have formed out of practice and intent, IE: I Ching learning.

Brian, I agree that the Tao Te Ching does seem to present images of ?good? and ?bad? in a relative light, yet, do you not also see a certain tug toward a good, or better place to live in; a sort of morality magnet?

*A sudden downpour of rain; first since last May, I?m told... and now, hail!*

Anyway, #1 reads:

?The Tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.

The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation.?

As applied to morality, it can?t be named. Yet, there are ?boundaries.?

Of all the words I?ve heard, the word, ?love,? seems to come the closest to this unnamable, unspeakable Tao. The problem is that to we humans, that usually translates into attached love; something we ?feel? subjectively. I think all here knows its also more than that. Whatever it is seems to create in each of us a set of values, and it seems that the commonality which we all share centers around the fire of Yi Jing, or, a voice of Tao. And, whatever ?it? is, it can?t be accurately described without an investment, subjectively. That is, its not just a knowing ? but a way of actually living Tao out in each one who chooses to follow. Well, what then do we follow? We follow what can?t be named and can not be spoken. Yet, there are boundaries in which each of ?choose? to live in. #60 teaches that these boundaries in moral code are necessary if our life isn?t to dissolve into the boundless.

Morality is a ?relatively? good topic, I think.

Candid
 

bfireman

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Interesting.... It is comforting to know I am not alone in struggling with a dualistic mind. Thank you all for such wonderful conversation around the "pigs/fishes" symbol as well as the good/bad. My mind is swimming with thoughts, this is FUN! I really appreciate yal allowing me to jump into this thread, it is a needed outlet for me at the moment. I have been so blown away by the I-Ching lately, it has changed my life, and I have no friends in my community here to speak with, so thank yal so much for this excellent forum for exchange of ideas...

So, with that said, I will throw out here one beautiful passage from the "Hua Hu Ching" by Lao Tzu, verse 41, where he states:

Good and bad, self and others, life and death:
Why affirm these concepts? Why deny them?
To do either is to exercise the mind, and the integral
being knows that the manipulations of the mind are
dreams, delusions, and shadows.

Hold one idea, and another competes with it.
Soon the two will be in conflict with a third, and in
time your life is all chatter and contradiction.

Seek instead to keep your mind undivided.
Dissolve all ideas intot he Tao.


I do not think it can be stated any more clearly than that. Well, I guess LiSe did say,"Good and bad are human concepts...". So true. All of this is not so far off the original pigs and fishes topic though, that is if you perceive the symbology of pigs and pishes as representative as ignorance and delusion. Then, this is what gives rise to dualistic thinking, and the "chatter and contracition" is an endless cycle. This is my interpretation of this at least.

Candid, wow did you bring up some interesting stuff. I haven't given too much thought to this issue of morality, so I may start to shove my foot in my mouth here, but oh well here goes... I really like your image of morality as that boundless yet bound tao. That works for me. But it also seems that the idea behind morality, or a set of morales (is this the same thing?) is basically still getting trapped in dualistic thinking. I mean, who sets these morales. What springs to my mind are religious teachings, which are not always trappings, but most of the time they are. I think the I-Ching is so powerful because in essence it is FREE of morality. I mean, you, the one asking the question, are always given an option on how the particular hexagram relates to you. Just like Hilary said the yi describes a huge range of approaches or LiSe's image of the castle with all those doors and rooms. I keep thinking of hex's 1 and 2 again, where in order for the creative to become manifest it needs to be balanced by the receptive. It seems to me this is boundless and cyclic, and the concept of morality at its core is rigid in a sense, because it does imply "a way". I dunno, like I said, just some ramblings here from someone who has not thought too much about morality.

On another note, Candid, I couldn't agree with you more on tao as love. I mean, if not love, then what??? I sometimes substitute the words love, life, or force when contemplating the tao. It works for me! By the way, since you are in the southwest, I am just curious if you have ever read any of the books by Don Miguel Ruiz. He has one called "The Mastery of Love", that is excellent. Spiritual teachings from the Toltec tradition of central Mexico, same as don juan...

Again, thanks everyone! - Brian
 
C

candid

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Hi Brian - Just a quick note here. Thanks for 41, a great verse! There is no disunity, only the appearence of it. The question remains, is this one not comprised of two opposites, thereby creating all which we experience? True, we can attain the viewers perspective and be passive in the doing. That does seem to always be an option; a constant meditative state. On Don Miguel Ruiz - sorry to say I haven't read him.

Let me also take a moment to thank you, Brian, for your lively replies.

Candid
 

binz

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I know this is an old thread, but having recently recieved hex 61 I thought again of the pigs and fishes significance.

Viewing the image as a whole, "crossing the great water" and "gathering the pigs and fishes".

Could the fish be what we expect to find as we cross the water, and the pigs be what we didn't expect to find?

in other words:
fishes = as you experience what you expect, gather it to you and make good use of it, don't let it all swim by (don't take it for granted) or the benefit/opportunity will be lost
pigs = there will be some unexpected experiences, do not ignore/avoid these either, but gather them too and make them useful.

Binz
 

louise

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Hi Binz, interesting idea. Have read somewhere though pigs actually refers to dolphins - which of course you would expect to find in the water.
I think that notion is discussed somewhere above in this thread.
 

bfireman

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Louise- The Wilhelm/Baynes translation references the "pig-fishes as dolphins" idea in book III, the commentaries. In my copy it is on p. 700. I find it interesting, as it brings up a similar point which Binz spoke to previously, that is how does one interpret the meaning of the text, judgement, image, or any other part of the yi... Obviously, from the various translations I have read, as well as the many opinions which are spoke of here, there are many ways to interpret the text and bring meaning to a given hexagram reading.

Binz, where did you come up with this idea of "gathering" the pigs and fishes? Was it intution, imagination, or possibly just grasping for a meaning which is beyond your present understanding. I found it pretty interesting, actually... although I am having some difficulty relating it to the notion of Inner Truth of H61. I think in general this thread on pigs and fishes raises some interesting questions, as to how one interprets a given hexagram when one is confused about a notion of language usage or expressed idea. Personally, I rely mostly on various text interpreations to gather understanding of hexagram meanings, mostly because my knowledge of the yi is still on the outer layers. Thus, it is very confusing sometimes, such as this case of pigs and fishes, when one is left asking oneself, "what the hell does that mean???" I suppose, with time, experience, and reflection that some of these ideas will become more clear on a personal level, especially as one begins to peel away and uncover some of the deeper levels of meaning and interpretation. Meanwhile, others translations and commentaries, as well as opinions expressed in forums such as these have been extremely enlightening... Thanks for bringing this one back up!

Peace - Brian
 

binz

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Hi Brian,

I think "gathering" comes from the translation I use (the big Karcher book Hilary strongly recommended). If it didn't come from there then I don't know where it came from.

I don't have the book with me so I can't check (book at home, me at work).

wrt interpreting the hex's; I usually start off pretty basically by not trying to understand too much literally, but by just getting a feel for the image, by picturing it in my head and then see how this image that Yi and me have created applies to my Self and my situation.

This gives a frame on which to build understanding of the reading.

If I try too hard, things just get confused/clogged. So in interpreting I provide space and time for the message to get to me, rather than try to be too analytical about every word that was never there (because the original Yi was a book of images/symbols, not words).

I am not a trained reader, nor particularly experienced with Yi, but this approach works for me, so I use it - but we are all different (and are all the same).

wrt the translation I use, a big THANK YOU to Hilary for the recommendation. I find Karchers way is great for building a visible image in my mind. My old I Ching book (can't remember who it was 'translated' by) was very poor in that it (thought it) said exactly what each hex meant, and never really gave a feel for the hex nor built an image.
By trying to be too precise it lost all opportunity for inspiration - lets take care that we do not do the same!

Binz
 

bfireman

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Thanks Binz! Good suggestions and advice! I do tend to get a little bogged down in text at times... I do find when things are a bit confusing, that "trying" to understand simply does not lead to greater understanding. It only comes through, as you said, allowing for space and time for the meaning to come through. No doubt it would be of help to begin to pay more attention to the images of the various hex's as well as the text.

Peace - Brian
 

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