The Book of Changes

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Ting / The Caldron

The six lines construct the image of Ting, THE CALDRON;
at the bottom are the legs, over them the belly, then come
the ears (handles), and at the top the carrying rings. At the
same time, the image suggests the idea of nourishment.

ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked
viands in the temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The
heads of the family served the food from the ting into the
bowls of the guests.

THE WELL (48) likewise has the secondary meaning of
giving nourishment, but rather more in relation to the people.
The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilization,
suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which
redounded to the benefit of the state.(1)

This hexagram and THE WELL are the only two in the Book
of Changes that represent concrete, men-made objects. Yet
here too the thought has its abstract connotation.

Sun, below, is wood and wind; Li, above, is flame. Thus
together they stand for the flame kindled by wood and wind,
which likewise suggests the idea of preparing food.


THE CALDRON. Supreme good fortune.

While THE WELL relates to the social foundation of our life, and this
foundation is likened to the water that serves to nourish growing wood,
the present hexagram refers to the cultural superstructure of society.
Here it is the wood that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit.

All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the
invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes
firm root in the cosmic order.

Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The
ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must
be sacrificed to the divine. But the truly divine does not manifest itself
apart from man. The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and
holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God,
as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings
inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads
to great good fortune and success.

The caldron means an initiation, a preparation, and an interior
elaboration. It means the full realization of the potential in change. The
caldron symbolizes what tempers, what transforms, what harmonizes.
What contains the caldron represents what must be optimized.

In ancient China, when a dynasty began, the first thing done was to cast
a new caldron with the fundamental laws inscribed on, to symbolize the
new epoch begun. Thus, when a new time began (after REVOLUTION)
one should transform to be able to face the new conditions of life.


Fire over wood:
The image of THE CALDRON.
Thus the superior man consolidates his fate
By making his position correct.

The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the
fire burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a
fate that lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right
place to life and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his
fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life
as handed on by oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.

The wood keeps livening up the fire, so the superior man cultivates with
his acts the tendency of his life, his fate. This way, his interior being
agrees with his existence.

In other interpretation level, fire over wood means the importance of the
correct placement of things. Thus, in the community, the superior man
rectifies the position of people and states his orders, to fully realize the
potential of the people.


Six at the beginning means:

A ting with legs upturned.
Furthers removal of stagnating stuff.
One takes a concubine for the sake of her son.
No blame.

If a ting is turned upside down before being used, no harm is done --on
the contrary, this clears it of refuse. A concubine's position is lowly, but
because she has a son she comes to be honored.

These two metaphors express the idea that in a highly developed
civilization, such as that indicated by this hexagram, every person of
good will can in some way or other succeed. No matter how lowly he
may be, provided he is ready to purify himself, he is accepted. He attains
a station in which he can prove himself fruitful in accomplishment, and
as a result he gains recognition.

A ting turning upside down means to produce a radical change of
attitude to begin a new cycle of life. This transposition of values means
that much of what previously one believed as good (the old content of
the caldron), it is no longer useful, and what was previously disdained
(the concubine) now has good development possibilities (the son).

Nine in the second place means:

There is food in the ting.
My comrades are envious,
But they cannot harm me.
Good fortune.

In a period of advanced culture, it is of the greatest importance that one
should achieve something significant. If a man concentrates on such real
undertakings, he may indeed experience envy and disfavor, but that is not
dangerous. The more he limits himself to his actual achievements, the
less harm the envious inflict on him.

There is food in the ting symbolizes what is to the height of its condition,
what one really has, what is been genuinely.

The envious comrades mean someone who wants to take the content of
the ting, without having rights to it. This is a warning about where one
goes and what associates one has.

Nine in the third place means:

The handle of the ting is altered.
One is impeded in his way of life.
The fat of the pheasant is not eaten.
Once rain falls, remorse is spent.
Good fortune comes in the end.

The handle is the means for lifting up the ting. If the handle is altered,
the ting cannot be lifted up and used, and, sad to say, the delicious food
in it, such as pheasant fat, cannot be eaten by anyone.

This describes a man who, in a highly evolved civilization, finds himself
in a place where no one notices or recognizes him. This is a severe block
to his effectiveness. All of his good qualities and gifts of mind thus
needlessly go to waste. But if he will only see to it that he is possessed
of something truly spiritual, the time is bound to come, sooner or later,
when the difficulties will be resolved and all will go well. The fall of rain
symbolizes here, as in other instances, release of tension.

The useless handles means a not well faced matter. The ting under
these conditions can also mean an aspect not taken into account,
incompatibility. The fat not eaten refers to loss of potential, what is
wasted. The rain that removes remorse means that when everything is
understood, cleared up and the truth is recognized, then there will be

Nine in the fourth place means:

The legs of the ting are broken.
The prince's meal is spilled
And his person is soiled.

A man has a difficult and responsible task to which he is not adequate.
Moreover, he does not devote himself to it with all his strength but goes
about with inferior people; therefore the execution of the work fails. In
this way he also incurs personal opprobrium.

Confucius says about this line: "Weak character coupled with honored
place, meager knowledge with large plans, limited powers with heavy
responsibility, will seldom escape disaster."

A ting with broken legs means frustrated preparation, thus the prince's
meal is spilled, that is to say, the plan of who directs is scattered. For
that reason, its image is degraded, it loses credibility, and it loses trust.
The food spilled means that the essential thing has been ruined. Then
the query arises: can one still believe in it? Because a ting with broken
legs means that there are not bases to begin what is sought. For that
reason, its image is degraded, that is to say, it loses category, and
misfortune comes.

Six in the fifth place means:

The ting has yellow handles, golden carrying rings.
Perseverance furthers.

Here we have, in a ruling position, a man who is approachable and
modest in nature. As a result of this attitude he succeeds in finding
strong and able helpers who complement and aid him in his work. Having
achieved this attitude, which requires constant self-abnegation, it is
important for him to hold to it and not to let himself be led astray.

Yellow represents the fair and balanced thing, the good omen. Yellow
handles mean to face the matter with balance, with a good perspective.
The metal is symbol of what is visible, of what shines, of what is strong.

The golden carrying rings represent the valuable capacity that is
possessed. Perseverance means to use it according to its potentiality,
because the handles are central and appropriate.

Nine at the top means:

The ting has rings of jade.
Great good fortune.
Nothing that would not act to further.

In the preceding line the carrying rings are described as golden, to
denote their strength; here they are said to be of jade. Jade is notable for
its combination of hardness with soft luster. This counsel, in relation to
the man who is open to it, works greatly to his advantage. Here the
counsel is described in relation to the sage who imparts it. In imparting
it, he will be mild and pure, like precious jade. Thus the work finds favor
in the eyes of the Deity, who dispenses great good fortune, and becomes
pleasing to men, wherefore all goes well.

This one acts as an advisor that can handle with great strength and
compliance, the more delicate tasks. It is free of partiality and can do its
work with the summit of perfection.

(1) Cf. the other three hexagrams dealing with nourishment, viz.,
hexagrams 5, 27, 48.