The Book of Changes

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M?ng / Youthful Folly Benightedness

In this hexagram we are reminded of youth and folly in two different ways. The image of the
upper trigram, K?n, is the mountain, that of the lower, K'an, is water; the spring rising at the
foot of the mountain is the image of inexperienced youth. Keeping still is the attribute of the
upper trigram; that of the lower is the abyss, danger.

Stopping in perplexity on the brink of a
dangerous abyss is a symbol of the folly of youth. However, the two trigrams also show the
way of overcoming the follies of youth. Water is something that of necessity flows on. When
the spring gushes forth, it does not know at first where it will go. But its steady flow fills up
the deep place blocking its progress, and success is attained.


YOUTHFUL FOLLY has success.
It is not I who seek the young fool;
The young fool seeks me.
At the first oracle I inform him.

If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.
If he importunes, I give him no information.
Perseverance furthers.


In the time of youth, folly is not an evil. One may succeed in spite of it, provided one finds an
experienced teacher and has the right attitude toward him. This means, first of all, that the youth himself
must be conscious of his lack of experience and must seek out the teacher. Without this modesty and this
interest there is no guarantee that he has the necessary receptivity, which should express itself in
respectful acceptance of the teacher. This is the reason why the teacher must wait to be sought out instead
of offering himself. Only thus can the instruction take place at the right time and in the right way.

A teacher's answer to the question of a pupil ought to be clear and definite like that expected from an
oracle; thereupon it ought to be accepted as a key for resolution of doubts and a basis for decision. If
mistrustful or unintelligent questioning is kept up, it serves only to annoy the teacher. He does well to
ignore it in silence, just as the oracle gives one answer only and refuses to be tempted by questions
implying doubt.

Given addition a perseverance that never slackens until the points are mastered one by one, real success is
sure to follow. Thus the hexagram counsels the teacher as well as the pupil.

Here immaturity is mentioned as a learning stage, for that reason it is announced that it will be
successful; because after all, the close contact with the experience will contribute to the necessary
knowledge to grow.


A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
The image of YOUTH.
Thus the superior man fosters his character
By thoroughness in all that he does.

A spring succeeds in flowing on and escapes stagnation by filling up all the hollow places in its path. In
the same way character is developed by thoroughness that skips nothing but, like water, gradually and
steadily fills up all gaps and so flows onward.

The mountain is strong, consolidated, but the spring flowing out of it, runs in search of the formation of its
own course. This way, one runs the risk of stagnation, since youth own inexperience can take it for
inadequate roads that will retard its evolution.


Six at the beginning means:

To make a fool develop
It furthers one to apply discipline.
The fetters should be removed.
To go on in this way bring humiliation.

Law is the beginning of education. Youth in its inexperience is inclined at first to take everything
carelessly and playfully. It must be shown the seriousness of life. A certain measure of taking oneself in
hand, brought about by strict discipline, is a good thing. He who plays with life never amounts to anything.
However, discipline should not degenerate into drill. Continuous drill has a humiliating effect and
cripples a man's powers.

The fact that certain punishments should be suppressed means that there are instruction forms that could
be annoying to the fool and that would be counteractive because it would accentuate more their
stubbornness. Beyond such methodology, a good teacher should find the most convenient form of
communicating with his student, because what really matters is that the educator can bring the knowledge
to the pupil.

Nine in the second place means:

To bear with fools in kindliness brings good fortune.
To know how to take women
Brings good fortune.
The son is capable of taking charge of the household.

These lines picture a man who has no external power, but who has enough strength of mind to bear his
burden of responsibility. He has the inner superiority and that enable him to tolerate with kindliness the
shortcomings of human folly. The same attitude is owed to women as the weaker sex. One must
understand them and give them recognition in a spirit of chivalrous consideration. Only this combination
of inner strength with outer reserve enables one to take on the responsibility of directing a larger social
body with real success.

Here reference is made to the dedication and the patience needed to take to good term anybody
instruction. Education method must not be abrupt nor violent, but calm and comprehensible. The pupil
should be managed with the same courtesy a woman would be treated. This way, the student will learn
the rules, assuming his duties, and then he will be qualified to face life and support his family.

Six in the third place means:

Take not a maiden who. When she sees a man of bronze ,
Loses possession of herself.
Nothing furthers.

A weak, inexperienced man, struggling to rise, easily loses his own individuality when he slavishly
imitates a strong personality of higher station. He is like a girl throwing herself away when she meets a
strong man. Such a servile approach should not be encouraged, because it is bad both for the youth and the
teacher. A girl owes it to her dignity to wait until she is wooed. In both cases it is undignified to offer
oneself, and no good comes of accepting such an offer.

Somebody occupying an outstanding place attracts people because of the superficial fantasy of being
related with somebody powerful. This is meant by the woman who comes closer to the man because of
his position or beauty (man of bronze can also be translated as handsome, wealthy). For that reason she
shouldn't be taken as a wife, that is to say, it could not be accepted, because a mentally superior person
would notice the feeling for which she approaches is not authentic.

Six in the fourth place means:

Entangled folly bring humiliation.

For youthful folly it is the most hopeless thing to entangle itself in empty imaginings. The more
obstinately it clings to such unreal fantasies, the more certainly will humiliation overtake it.

Often the teacher, when confronted with such entangled folly, has no other course but to leave the fool to
himself for a time, not sparing him the humiliation that results. This is frequently the only means of

When ignorance is fed by stubbornness the fool arrives to a dead end, losing touch with reality.

Six in the fifth place means:

Childlike folly brings good fortune.

An inexperienced person who seeks instruction in a childlike and unassuming way is on the right path, for
the man devoid of arrogance who subordinated himself to his teacher will certainly be helped.

This line abides in a noble position (regent place). It relies on second yang, delegating authority, so
things can be done.

Nine at the top means:

In punishing folly
It does not further one
To commit transgressions.
The only thing that furthers
Is to prevent transgressions.

Sometimes an incorrigible fool must be punished. He who will not heed will be made to feel. This
punishment is quite different from a preliminary shaking up. But the penalty should not be imposed in
anger; it must be restricted to an objective guarding against unjustified excesses. Punishment is never an
end in itself but serves merely to restore order.

This applies not only in regard to education but also in regard to the measures taken by a government
against a populace guilty of transgressions. Governmental interference should always be merely
preventive and should have as its sole aim the establishment of public security and peace.

Excessive punishment can increment foolishness, but preventive precaution will be advantageous for
both sides.