The Book of Changes

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Sung / Conflict Contention

The upper trigram, whose image is heaven, has an upward movement; the lower trigram, water,
in accordance with its nature tends downward. Thus the two halves move away from each
other, giving rise to the idea of conflict.

The attribute of the Creative is strength, that of the Abysmal is danger, guile. Where cunning
has force before it, there is conflict.

A third indication of conflict, in terms of character, is presented by the combination of deep
cunning within and fixed determination outwardly. A person of this character will certainly be



CONFLICT. You are sincere
And are being obstructed.
A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
It does not further one to cross the great water.


Conflict develops when one feels himself to be in the right and runs into opposition. If one is not
convinced of being in the right, opposition leads to craftiness or high-handed encroachment but not to
open conflict.

If a man is entangled in a conflict, his only salvation lies in being so clear-headed and inwardly strong that
he is always ready to come to terms by meeting the opponent halfway.

To carry one the conflict to the
bitter end has evil effects even when one is the right, because the enmity is then perpetuated. It is
important to see the great man, that is, an impartial man whose authority is great enough to terminate the
conflict amicably or assure a just decision. In times of strife, crossing the great water is to be avoided,
that is, dangerous enterprises are not to be begun, because in order to be successful they require
concerted unity of focus. Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.

Here is a typical situation of opposing interests, where somebody wants to make worth its posture,
believing it has the right to do it; but this action will be counteracted by the contrary part, that is to say it
will be blocked. This means that a front crash would not bring any kind of happiness.

On the other hand, to look for a mean to reconcile the adversaries is the most appropriate thing. The
great man means to look for a mediator who carries out the reconciliation in an impartial way. Also,
seeing the great man represents to rise and see the things from a superior plane. This way one will have
a comprehensive vision of the reality and all the possible consequences. This means not to be locked in
feelings of anger or resentment. It will not be convenient to cross the great river, because to take the
conflict ahead implies a great effort that won't be worthwhile to carry out.


Heaven and water go their opposite ways:
The image of CONFLICT.
Thus in all his transactions the superior man
Carefully considers the beginning.

The image indicates that the causes of conflict are latent in the opposing tendencies of the two trigrams.
Once these opposing tendencies appear, conflict is inevitable. To avoid it, therefore, everything must be
taken carefully into consideration in the very beginning. If rights and duties are exactly defined, or if, in a
group, the spiritual trends of the individuals harmonize, the cause of conflict is removed in advance.

In order to prevent conflict it is necessary a carefully planning, clear delimitation and controlling.


Six at the beginning means:

If one does not perpetuate the affair,
There is a little gossip.
In the end, good fortune comes.

While a conflict is in the incipient stage, the best thing to do is to drop the issue. Especially when the
adversary is stronger, it is not advisable to risk pushing the conflict to a decision. It may come to a slight
dispute, but in the end all goes well.

This is the initial stage of the conflict where it is still feasible to leave it without negative effects.

Nine in the second place means:

One cannot engage in conflict;
One returns home, gives way.
The people of his town,
Three hundred households,
Remain free of guilt.

In a struggle with an enemy of superior strength, retreat is no disgrace. Timely withdrawal prevents bad
consequences. If, out of a false sense of honor, a man allowed himself to be tempted into an unequal
conflict, he would be drawing down disaster upon himself. In such a case a wise and conciliatory attitude
benefits the whole community, which will then not be drawn into the conflict.

Not to be under conditions of confronting means lack of means and preparation. Coming back home
symbolizes to go toward a sure situation, with no alteration of the daily normal state. A conflict can
expand towards the surroundings and it may also involve not only directly related people.

Returning home is a symbol of a low profile style, too.

Six in the third place means:

To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.
Danger. In the end, good fortune comes.
If by chance you are in the service of a king,
Seek not works.

This is a warning of the danger that goes with an expansive disposition. Only that which has been honestly
acquired through merit remains a permanent possession. It can happen that such a possession may be
contested, but since it is really one's own, one cannot be robbed of it. Whatever a man possesses through
the strength of his own nature cannot be lost. If one enters the service of a superior, one can avoid
conflict only by not seeking works for the sake of prestige. It is enough if the work is done: let the honor
go to the other.

The traditional way is the more secure path, especially when confronting powerful contenders. It is not
the right time to improve or change anything; the situation can not be improved yet but sustained. A low
profile style is appropriate.

Nine in the fourth place means:

One cannot engage in conflict.
One turns back and submits to fate,
Changes one's attitude, And finds peace in perseverance.
Good fortune.

This refers to a person whose inner attitude at first lacks peace. He does not feel content with his
situation and would like to improve it through conflict. In contrast tot the situation of the nine in the
second place, he is dealing with a weaker opponent and might therefore succeed. But he cannot carry on
the fight, because, since right is not on his side, he cannot justify the conflict to his conscience.
Therefore he turns back and accepts his fate. He changes his mind and finds lasting peace in being at one
with eternal law. This brings good fortune.

When the right is not on our side, the correct thing to do is resign and go back.

Nine in the fifth place means:

To contend before him
Brings supreme good fortune.

This refers to an arbiter in a conflict who is powerful and just, and strong enough to lend weight to the
right side. A dispute can be turned over to him with confidence. If one is in the right, one attains great
good fortune.
The correct arbiter election symbolizes to take the appropriate ways that will take us toward the desired
goal. In another analysis level, this means that justice fully works.

Nine at the top means:

Even if by chance a leather belt is bestowed on one,
By the end of a morning
It will have been snatched away three times.

Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed. He is granted a
decoration, but his happiness does not last. He is attacked again and again, and the result is conflict
without end.

The distinction with a leather belt symbolizes the trophy granted as result of a victory. Being a trophy
means it is susceptible to be snatched for whom lost it, with the result of getting lost three times in one
morning. Therefore, it doesn't have much sense such a conquest since honor will be constantly in trial.