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The "big toe" in hexagram 40, line 4. What's it all about?

synch

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Hi Everyone,

I have a question regarding the nature of the "big toe" in line 4, Hexagram 40: Deliverance.

Its literal translation seems to be to 'lose' ones existing company to make room for the 'true' companion. This company could translate into other people we spend time with but as i see it, it could also mean the 'company' we keep within ourselves. This company, as i've understood it could mean "fear" etc. that comes about from insecurites or a lack of self-worth within oneself. The 'company' that arises out of the ego-self.

My question was regarding a person i feel a strong bond with and wish to get to know better but am not sure how to, and the question was, "when i try to forget him you tell me to hold to him and when i hold to him you tell me to forget him, so what should i do? and got Hexagram 40.4 >37.

Am i correct in my understanding of the nature of the company in this line?

Any insight will be greatly appreciated.
 

Trojina

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I think 40.4 is very much about letting go any preconceived ideas about how things ought to work out..like conditions one may make in a relationship. For example 'i will accept this person if he meets criteria a, b and c.' These conditions you set block that which you most desire. Hence i think you are right, it is also about the company we keep with ourselves...something keeps catching, hindering us like a big toe. Something we think we have to do or that others have to do gets in the way.

free that toe
and we can go

heh
a poem !
 

gene

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Synch

Could there be someone involved in this situation that is interfering in any way? If not, then I would say the deliverance could be from some circumstance that is creating problems. How does HE feel about it?

Gene
 

willowfox

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My question was regarding a person i feel a strong bond with and wish to get to know better but am not sure how to, and the question was, "when i try to forget him you tell me to hold to him and when i hold to him you tell me to forget him, so what should i do? and got Hexagram 40.4 >37.
The subject of the question is "him", and therefore the line is talking about him, you have taken an interest in the wrong person, you feel that you really need him but in reality you don't. Therefore, if you keep pursuing "him" then you will not see the "real" one when he appears or has appeared already.

Infatuation is blind.
 

bradford

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The word mu, big toe, also means thumb. Because the theme of 40 is letting go or release, and the Zhi Gua is 07, the Militia, I played with an archery theme in my commentary and read this as a fumbled release. Despite one's right to be creative and do one's own thing, there are right and wrong ways to let fly an arrow. Here the appeal is to opinions outside of oneself, to the companions we are advised to trust, because you don't seem to be in a position to see it clearly. You are either letting go in a way that entangles you, or only pretending to let go while really hanging on. Pick which one you want.
 

pocossin

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The word mu, big toe, also means thumb. Because the theme of 40 is letting go or release, and the Zhi Gua is 07, the Militia, I played with an archery theme in my commentary and read this as a fumbled release. Despite one's right to be creative and do one's own thing, there are right and wrong ways to let fly an arrow.
But is the thumb used in archery to hold and release the arrow?

To answer my own question, Yes, they did use the thumb:

". . .some Chinese authors advocated what they called the real ‘Chinese Release’ in which the string was held by the thumb (protected by a ring), and supported by the middle finger, with the forefinger pointed upward along the string."
http://www.atarn.org/chinese/chin_art.htm
 
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bradford

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But is the thumb used in archery to hold and release the arrow?
As an archer I made sure to research that before going forward. It's different than our three fingers.
I suspect there may be a bit of humor, or at least lightheartedness, here. Like "you're using your thumb with all the finesse of a toe". We have a few such expressions about clumsiness in English - all thumbs, two left feet, etc. There may be something intended in the toe-thumb confusion. I couldn't translate accordingly but I played with it in the commentary. The real big toe, of course, belongs in Line 1, not in Line 4, so a toe would be out of place here. Maybe the character is being teased. Also, this is a case where the Xiao Xiang commentary "not yet in the right position" might helpfully influence the interpretation.
 

pocossin

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The real big toe, of course, belongs in Line 1, not in Line 4, so a toe would be out of place here.
Maybe not. In my way of thinking line 4 is the line of Lake or Marsh. The person is in wet ground and needs to release his toes from the mud in order to advance , a covering trigram of line 4.

解 而 拇。朋 至 斯 孚

Free your toe(s).
Friend(s) come.
With trust.

I came up with this reading by comparing translations.
 

synch

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Hi Everyone,

I agree there is something blocking me, as Trojan mentioned, that is within me. And ironically, it could very well be my desire itself.

It could be that I have to learn detachment and think about, as Bradford mentions, the right way to let the arrow fly because it is "not yet in the right position". Or, that i have to learn to see things for what they are as WillowFox mentions.

Either way, I have to let go. Gene, I have no idea what he thinks, but there WAS interference which hurt his pride, if i'm correct.

i think I'll learn to apply the much dreaded proverb, "If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was.", and make room in myself for myself. And the rest can follow.

Thanks alot for all your input. It was much appreciated.
 

patro

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hi I'm new in this forum and there is something that I not understand....
for example this is not the first time that I read:
"when i try to forget him you tell me to hold to him and when i hold to him you tell me to forget him, so what should i do? and got Hexagram 40.4 >37 but.... 40.4->7
some one is wrong....or there is another way/technique to construct hex?

any way.... the part of the question to connect whit the answer is obviously: what should i do? but the answer does not regard him but the IC... because the important part of the question is "you tell me" X 2 -> you=IC
the answer regard the confusion that you have regarding past questions.

well the IC is advising you that you must not consider the answer that you had in the past from it.... regarding him or you just not understand what the IC answered in the past... about him.
the IC advice you to recommended to release the idea that you made from the past responses ...
how? acting with discipline as a military.
to confirm this... could you post the readings about: when i try to forget him you tell me to hold to him ------- and when i hold to him you tell me to forget him...?
Patro
 
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synch

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Patro - About the resultant/context hexagram, it is 7 and not 37...i made a typo.

I can see why you would think the question, "what should i do" has nothing to do with "him" and everything to do with the oracle. The way i worded it is rather confusing. But if you think about it, all questions are to the IC. In this case, in asking, "what should i do?" - "you tell me", the implication of my question was in regards to the subject: him. Thus i am asking the IC, "should i hold on to him or should i let him go?" Perhaps I was given contradictory readings in the past because i couldn't find the right "balance" or "middle path" in letting 'him' or something about myself in regards to him, go. This seems to make more sense to me than him just telling me to disregard previous readings - after all, what point is there in that...

Regardless, if i were to agree with your explanation, I see no point in posting my previous readings, as you seem to think i am being asked to forget them.
 

synch

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Patro - I thought I'd add that in understanding contradictory readings (sometimes "positive", sometimes "negative" in regards to the same issue) it might help to see this as confirmation that nothing is set in stone. Everything keeps changing, and our attitude towards any particular outcome seems to have alot to do with this change. Just as there is no absoluteness or stagnancy in any situation, so there isn't any in the answers you get. It appears we create our own situations and the appropriate solutions for them as we live it.
 

patro

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Patro - I thought I'd add that in understanding contradictory readings (sometimes "positive", sometimes "negative" in regards to the same issue) it might help to see this as confirmation that nothing is set in stone. Everything keeps changing, and our attitude towards any particular outcome seems to have a lot to do with this change. Just as there is no absoluteness or stagnancy in any situation, so there isn't any in the answers you get. It appears we create our own situations and the appropriate solutions for them as we live it.
hi,
please could you post the questions and the resulting hexagrams?
or if you just discuss it here on the forum... the link to the threads.
thank you
Patro
 

svenrus

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Thumb.... Hemlock....

Hi Everyone,

I have a question regarding the nature of the "big toe" in line 4, Hexagram 40: Deliverance.

Its literal translation seems to be to 'lose' ones existing company to make room for the 'true' companion. This company could translate into other people we spend time with but as i see it, it could also mean the 'company' we keep within ourselves. This company, as i've understood it could mean "fear" etc. that comes about from insecurites or a lack of self-worth within oneself. The 'company' that arises out of the ego-self.

My question was regarding a person i feel a strong bond with and wish to get to know better but am not sure how to, and the question was, "when i try to forget him you tell me to hold to him and when i hold to him you tell me to forget him, so what should i do? and got Hexagram 40.4 >37.

Am i correct in my understanding of the nature of the company in this line?

Any insight will be greatly appreciated.
If You take a look in Edward L. Shaughnessy's book: I Ching... the first english translation of the newly discovered second-century BC Mawangdui texts... Ballantine books 1996, under hex 40 (actually, here in this book it's nr. 30) Youll' find that the word Thumb (nine in the fourth line) was then - at that time probably - "Hemlock". The chinese characteres mu for those two expressions (thumb/hemlock) is only slightly different...
http://svenrus.dk/hex40line4.jpg
 

ginnie

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Let go your hemlock? That doesn't seem to be any clearer than "let go your thumb." What could be the meaning of "let go your hemlock"?
 

svenrus

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Let go your hemlock? That doesn't seem to be any clearer than "let go your thumb." What could be the meaning of "let go your hemlock"?
Well, OK, that's the quistion. In Shaughnessys 'I Ching-book' its:
"Untangling his hemlock"
- and in Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching-book its:
"Deliver yourself from your great toe"
- in Richard Rutt's Zhouyi A bronze-age document- I Ching-book its:
"Unloosing the thumbs"
Wang Pi (or Wang Bi) in Richard J. Lynns translation has 'Big toe' and James Legge just 'toes'.
But what I meant to point out here whas this tiny little difference in the chinese characters between thumb and hemlock, both expressed 'mu'. see the picture I placed of a scanning from Shaughnessys book in his notes to this 4' line of hex 40, above. And, Yes, there is a vast difference in unterstanding it if its hemlock vs thumb...
 

pocossin

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occurrences of toe/toes/big toe in Wilhelm

21.1
22.1
31.1
34.1
40.4
43.1
52.1

40.4 is an anomaly if translated as toe. Bradford discusses the toe/thumb question in a note in his translation. I think 40.4 continues the theme of archery and the character should be translated as 'thumb'.
 

svenrus

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occurrences of toe/toes/big toe in Wilhelm

21.1
22.1
31.1
34.1
40.4
43.1
52.1

40.4 is an anomaly if translated as toe. Bradford discusses the toe/thumb question in a note in his translation. I think 40.4 continues the theme of archery and the character should be translated as 'thumb'.
Sounds logical... in a note to hex 40, in R. Rutts 2007 ed. (p.334, top) of Zhouyi a bronze-age document, Waley is cited: "Relax your thumb [on the bowstring]. A friend [not an enemy] is coming." (The listener, march 1961, p. 580, on a review at Hellmut Wilhelm's Eight lectures on the I, 1906). Later on, 1933, Waley 'had suggested a connection with "the well-known practice of removing the thumbs of prisoners of war". (same note)
I think that the more new discoveries uncover the oldest material concerning the scripts (chinese hieroglyphs ???) the more it will be obvious whether its toe, thumb, hemlock or something else, which authentical is the case here. (sorry for my primitif english :bows:)
 

peterg

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Karcher Ritsema translate the character mu as big toe in the lower trigram and thumb in the upper.The thumb enables the hand to grasp.The toe enables the foot to walk.

Didn't the French cut off the first two fingers of captured English longbowmen (may be a myth) ? Hence the origin of the two fingered salute.

Hemlock is interesting : let go of your 'drug' whatever it may be.Ties in with the idea of 40. as release of tension and delivery from compulsion.
Suggests making a clean break with a high risk of fumbling it.

ps not sure if it means anything here but the thumb is also the weak point of a grasp.
 
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precision grace

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I reckon it means let go of your fear because when we are scared we tend to tuck our thumbs into the palms of our hands, hence loosen your thumb would fit perfectly with a situation where one is feeling insecure / afraid..loosening the thumbs would have an effect of loosening the fear inside and therefore changing the overall vibration of the person from fear based to acceptance based - receptivity is a fine state for welcoming new friends.
 

svenrus

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occurrences of toe/toes/big toe in Wilhelm

21.1 {Shaughnessys translation: 'feet'}
22.1 { --- 'feet' & 'foot'}
31.1 { --- 'big toe'}
34.1 { --- 'foot' }
40.4 { --- 'hemlock' }
43.1 { --- 'front foot' }
52.1 { --- 'foot' , I Ching... Ballentine books, N.Y. 1996 }

40.4 is an anomaly if translated as toe. Bradford discusses the toe/thumb question in a note in his translation. I think 40.4 continues the theme of archery and the character should be translated as 'thumb'.
{My quotes without attached notes...} Sven
 
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meng

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Many interesting posts.

I can't speak to translation but I can to what's going on in the cauldron when I receive this line. There's two effects: first aww, then ahhh. If my toes are nailed or glued to the ground, I can not be released from being hemmed in (locked in hem?). Friends represent happiness, strength and those who help us move along, progressing. You can't stand firmly in the same spot and expect to go anywhere.

I'm not an archer but I know that when any part of the body tightens (including a sphincter muscle), extremities, like fingers and toes also are gripping tightly. This relaxing of tension is a discipline (not bound to fight or flight reaction), and either thumb or big toe can store tension, which causes resistance to move forward, progress (the friends who come).
 
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svenrus

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tryed posting under the right treath, but ended up wrong ???????????????????

Post #21 should have been just after post #17
 
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svenrus

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A little detail concerning hex 40 line four: The upper, outer trigram is Chen (or Zhen, The arousing, eldest son, thunder etc.) and one of its attributes is that it is working in the foot: "the arousing [manifests itself] in the foot". Richard Wilhelm/Baynes, Book II, Shuo Kua, chapter III, vers 9, page 274 in the third edition.
 

peterg

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hemlock

---Medicinal Action and Uses---As a medicine, Conium is sedative and antispasmodic, and in sufficient doses acts as a paralyser to the centres of motion.
On account of its peculiar sedative action on the motor centres, Hemlock juice (Succus conii) is prescribed as a remedy in cases of undue nervous motor excitability.
The drug has to be administered with care, as narcotic poisoning may result from internal use, and overdoses produce paralysis.In poisonous doses it produces complete paralysis with loss of speech, the respiratory function is at first depressed and ultimately ceases altogether and death results from asphyxia. The mind remains unaffected to the last. In the account of the death of Socrates, reference is made to loss of sensation as one of the prominent symptoms of his poisoning, but the dominant action is on the motor system.
In the case of poisoning by Hemlock, the antidotes are tannic acid, stimulants and coffee.
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hemloc18.html

---History---The Ancients were familiar with the plant, which is mentioned in early Greek literature, and fully recognized its poisonous nature. The juice of hemlock was frequently administered to criminals, and this was the fatal poison which Socrates was condemned to drink.
The name Hemlock is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words hem (border, shore) and leác (leek or plant).
Linnaeus, in 1737, restored the classical Greek name and called the Hemlock (Conium maculatum), the generic name being derived from the Greek word Konas, meaning to whirl about, because the plant, when eaten, causes vertigo and death.

---Habitat---It is by no means an uncommon plant in this country, found on hedgebanks, in neglected meadows, on waste ground and by the borders of streams in most parts of England, occurring in similar places throughout Europe (except the extreme north) and also in temperate Asia and North Africa. It has been introduced into North and South America.
 
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meng

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I wonder if big toe is a metaphor for big feet, and you know what they say about guys with big feet. Like saying, get over your wang (performance, ability, masculinity, machismo etc,) and get on with it! Get over yourself!
 

peterg

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More about the thumb

Myth: Thumb suckers are insecure
This is not the case; sucking is an act of self-soothing and a source of comfort for young children. In a world where little ones rely on others for the most basic needs, sucking behavior offers children a soothing way to help alleviate some of the negative effects of boredom, hunger, fatigue, stress, fear, and over-excitement. The calming effect is most likely brought on by changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Insecurity and damage to a child's self-esteem can result from criticism from adults and other children, however. This leads to more stress for the thumb-sucking child, which only generates a greater need to suck to relieve this stress.
http://parenting.kaboose.com/behavior/issues/the-ins-and-outs-of-thumb-sucking-thumb-suckers-are-insecure.html



There’s nothing simple about the simple habit of thumb sucking. But the bottom line is this: sucking is a natural reflex (some fetuses suck their thumbs in the womb) and before age four, thumb sucking is usually harmless. After that, most kids quit with just a little positive reinforcement.
"The beginning of thumb sucking is quite innocent," says Edward Christophersen,PhD, clinical psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. "In most cases, thumb sucking helps babies and toddlers fall asleep and acts as a convenient self-quieting technique in new or stressful situations
Dr. Christophersen says that contrary to popular belief, thumb (or finger) sucking is not a sign of insecurity.
Beyond infancy, thumb sucking is no longer a reflex action. Yet many preschoolers continue to suck their thumb because it gives them comfort and pleasure. During times of stress, excitement and illness, children tend to suck their thumbs more frequently.
http://www.childrensmercy.org/healthykidscolumns/view.aspx?id=35
 

svenrus

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Well, maybe I should had quoted the whole sentence of hex 40, line four, as translated by Edward L. Shaughnessy in his book I Ching, a bronze-age document:
"Untangling his(note 3) hemlock(note 4);
a friend arrives and returns this."
(The notes can be seen here: http://svenrus.dk/hex40line4.jpg)
Just as to make the difference in this translation obvious in relation to example that in Wilhelm/Baynes translation: "Deliver yourself from your great toe".
 
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rodaki

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Well, there are ways to link hemlock with the overall meaning of hx40 if you try looking into it, svenrus but I'm really curious as to what is your point in this .. Plenty of words are different in the Mawangdui text that Shaughnessy translates and even he does not include all of them in his translation - without fully explained the reasons for the selection . .
R.Rutt mentions 40.4 in his review (you can find it here if you haven't read it already)


Hexagram 40.4 (p 97) is rendered as 'Untangling his hemlock'. The character for 'hemlock' is otherwise unknown in China, though it is used in modern Japanese for the coniferous forest tree known in America as hemlock. The difference between this character and the received text mu 'thumb(s)' or 'toe(s)' is one tiny stroke distinguishing the hand radical from the tree radical. In the manuscript this stroke is smudged. The more obvious basic meaning is 'Loosing his thumbs', which Waley related to archery or to prisoners being mutilated. Why has the modern Japanese 'hemlock' been preferred?

p.s: I think you have your books mixed there, Zhouyi: the Book of Changes, a Bronze Age Document is by Rutt and I Ching: The Classic of Changes, is Shaughnessy's
 

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