The Book of Changes

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Lü / Treading [Conduct] Fulfillment

The name of the hexagram means on the one hand the right way of conducting oneself.
Heaven, the father, is above, and the lake, the youngest daughter, is below. This shows the
difference between high and low, upon which composure correct social conduct, depends. On
the other hand the word for the name of the hexagram, TREADING, means literally treading
upon something.

The small and cheerful [Tui] treads upon the large and strong [Ch'ien]. The
direction of movement of the two primary trigrams is upward.
The fact that the strong treads on the weak is not mentioned in the Book of Changes, because it is taken for granted.

For the
weak to take a stand against the strong is not dangerous here, because it happened in good
humor [Tui] and without presumption, so that the strong man is not irritated but takes it all in
good part.


TREADING. Treading upon the tail of the tiger.
It does not bite the man. Success.

The situation is really difficult. That which is strongest and that which is weakest are close together. The weak follows behind the strong and worries it. The strong, however, acquiesces and does not hurt the weak, because the contact is in good humor and harmless.

In terms of a human situation, one is handling wild, intractable people. In such a case one's purpose will be
achieved if one behaves with decorum. Pleasant manners succeed even with irritable people.

Although the tiger remains imperturbable, he notices the provocation but doesn't use his force. This is
the main achievement, because one has taken its first step successfully. The sentence mentions the best
way of approaching to a powerful entity: little by little and gingerly.


This is why Confucius says in
explaining it: "Great indeed is the generating power of the Creative; all beings
owe their beginning to it. This power permeates all heaven." For this
attribute inheres in the other three as well.
The beginning of all things lies still in the beyond in the form of ideas that
have yet to become real.

But the Creative furthermore has power to lend
form to these archetypes of ideas. This is indicated in the word success, and
the process is represented by an image from nature: "The clouds pass and the
rain does its work, and all individual beings flow into their forms."

Applies to the human world, these attributes show the great man the way to notable success: "Because he sees with great clarity and cause and effects, he completes the six steps at the right time and mounts toward heaven on them at the right time, as though on sic dragons."

The six steps are the six different positions given in the hexagram, which are represented later by the dragon symbol. Here it is shown that the way to success lies in apprehending and
giving actuality to the way of the universe [Tao], which, as a law running through end and beginning, brings about all phenomena in time. Thus each step attained forthwith becomes a preparation for the next.

Time is no longer a hindrance but the means of making actual what is potential.
The act of creation having found expression in the two attributes sublimity and success, the work of conservation is shown to be a continuous actualization and differentiation of form. This is expressed in the two terms "furthering" (literally, "creating that which accords with the nature of a
given being") and "persevering" (literally, "correct and firm").



Heaven above, the lake below:
The image of TREADING.
Thus the superior man discriminates between high and low,
And thereby fortifies the thinking of the people.

Heaven and the lake show a difference of elevation that inheres in the natures of the two, hence no envy
arises. Among mankind also there are necessarily differences of elevation; it is impossible to bring about
universal equality. But it is important that differences in social rank should not be arbitrary and unjust, for
if this occurs, envy and class struggle are the inevitable consequences. If, on the other hand, external
differences in rank correspond with differences in inner worth, and if inner worth forms the criterion of
external rank, people acquiesce and order reigns in society.

The heaven and the lake are symbols of the extreme points of a cavity that harbors infinite possibilities
of manifestations.


The superior man is aware of such differences and notices what the highest thing is
and what the lowest thing is, classifying them. The distance between heaven and lake means that
everything takes its place in agreement with its nature. Society is also divided into categories that take
place spontaneously by human interaction. But the fact that such differences exist doesn't mean that
these are rigid and irreversible, because as well as the waters that evaporate of the lake arrive to
heaven, that is to say, to the highest place, in the same way the elevation of the individuals or social
groups can overcome the old limits.


Nine at the beginning means:

Simple conduct. Progress without blame.

The situation is one in which we are still not bound by any obligations of social intercourse. If our
conduct is simple, we remain free of them. We can quietly follow our predilections as long as we are
content and make not demands on people.

The meaning of the hexagram is not standstill but progress. A man finds himself in an altogether inferior
position at the start. However, he has the inner strength that guarantees progress. If he can be content with
simplicity, he can make progress without blame. When a man is dissatisfied with modest circumstances,
he is restless and ambitious and tries to advance, not for the sake of accomplishing anything worth while,
but merely in order to escape from lowliness and poverty by dint of his conduct. Once his purpose is
achieved, he is certain to become arrogant and luxury-loving. Therefore blame attaches to his progress.
On the other hand, a man who is good at his work is content to behave simply. He wishes to make
progress in order to accomplish something. When he attains his goal, he does something worth while, an
all is well.

This is the first step, while there aren't conditioning factors yet. For that reason, one can follow its
feelings with no blame. Walking alone means not to fall under the effect of external influences that could
lead to confusion. To walk alone also means the security that the direction chosen is the own one.


Nine in the second place means:

Treading a smooth, level course.
The perseverance of a dark man
Brings good fortune.

The situation of a lonely sage is indicated here. He remains withdrawn from the bustle of life, seeks
nothing, asks nothing of anyone, and travels through life unassailed, on a level road. Since he is content
and does not challenge fate, he remains free of entanglements.

One has already gone into the route. The smooth and level course represents that it is free of
complications and, therefore, it is the correct one. In this way one goes steadfast and calmly. This means
that the road is in agreement with one's inner nature; for that reason, one goes in harmony. To go for a
level and smooth road also means that, when one undertakes what one deeply feels, the efforts don't
seem so but rather a delight of the vocation.

Six in the third place means:

A one-eyed man is able to see,
A lame man is able to tread.
He treads on the tail of the tiger.
The tiger bites the man.
Thus does a warrior act on behalf of his great prince.

A one-eyed man can indeed see, but not enough for clear vision. A lame man can indeed treat, but not
enough to make progress. If in spite of such defects a man considers himself strong and consequently
exposes himself to danger, he is inviting disaster, for he is undertaking something beyond his strength.
This reckless way of plunging ahead, regardless of the adequacy of one's powers, can be justified only in
the case of a warrior battling for his prince.

Here the ignorance of the own limits is presented.
This is meant by the attitudes of the one-eyed or the
lame that is bitten by the tiger. To believe in walking beyond own possibilities also means not to assume
the own inability, the own limit. All this is synthesized in the representation of a warrior who acts with
audacity for his prince. The warrior condition implies certain degree of lack of independence and to act
attending his prince means idealism. The prince would be the cause or the doctrine; this gives place to
the idea of fanaticism, for that reason he is one-eyed, that is to say, he doesn't see more than a partiality,
and he is lamed because he is unable to walk well with two legs, that is why he does not behave with
balance. In short, the lack of an eye and one disabled leg implies lack of means. In another analysis
level, the line could mean absolute loyalty, although this takes to the failure.


Nine in the fourth place means:

He treads on the tail of the tiger.
Caution and circumspection
Lead ultimately to good fortune.

This text refers to a dangerous enterprise. The inner power to carry it through is there, but this inner
power is combined with hesitating caution in one's external attitude. This line contrasts with the preceding
line, which is weak within but outwardly presses forward. Here one is sure of ultimate success, which
consists in achieving one's purpose, that is, in overcoming danger by going forward.

Here reference is made to the caution that should prevail when acting in front of somebody powerful. The
tiger represents the risk; its tail is the less aggressive place to approaches him. Caution and
circumspection mean that there is not anything done randomly or with improvisation, which results in
achieving the objective.



Nine in the fifth place means:

Resolute conduct.
Perseverance with awareness of danger.


This refers to the ruler of the hexagram as a whole. One sees that one has to be resolute in conduct. But at
the same time one must remain conscious of the danger connected with such resoluteness, especially if it
is to be persevered in. Only awareness of the danger makes success possible.

One is close to concluding the voyage; however, danger is still present, but one has arrived to this point
for something, walking with sure steps. This means that the risk is known in depth, danger is not omitted,
but one continues firmly, facing it.


Nine at the top means:

Look to your conduct and weigh the favorable signs.
When everything is fulfilled, supreme good fortune comes.

The work is ended. If we want to know whether good fortune will follow, we must look back upon our
conduct and its consequences. If the effects are good, then good fortune is certain. No one knows
himself. It is only by the consequences of his actions, by the fruit of his labors, that a man can judge what
he is to expect.

When one is at the end of the road, one should observe and evaluate the road that has been traveled.
This means that this is the time to review the journey behind. This is the way to increase one's
understanding at the consequences of own actions.