Monday, August 07, 2006

2nd Line of Kun

Six in the second place means:
Straight, square, great. Without purpose, yet nothing remains unfurthered.

The words in the second line of Hexagram 2 Kun / The Receptive are simple and easy enough to understand yet one often sees Yi students stumble over the meaning. And some like to take to task what Richard Wilhelm has translated. But his translation is clear and good enough for many Western students and yours truly. Otherwise how the translation could be considered a reference book for many Yi aficionados in the West?

Wilhelm’s teacher, Lao Nai-hsuan was one of the foremost Chinese scholars at the time. Both the pupil and his teacher had worked on the translation. No doubt, Wilhelm’s translation may not be perfect since both his and NH Lao’s knowledge could be limited to a certain extent as to the lack of full research into antiquity and in defining the profound meaning of Tao.

In his translation, the meanings of straight, square, great were explained this way:

The symbol of heaven is the circle, and that of earth is the square. Thus squareness is a primary quality of the earth. On the other hand, movement in the straight line, as well as magnitude, is a primary quality of the Creative. But all square things have their origin in a straight line and in turn form solid bodies. Nature was taken as an example to further the meanings on Straight and Square; and to explain the meaning of Great. [I Ching – W/B]

One is sure the above explanation is deep enough even for Yi scholars and experts, and students of Tao.

What does the second sentence of ‘Without purpose, yet nothing remains unfurthered’ mean? It is also simple and easy to understand. No? Just refer to your Daoist studies. Probably the Daoists better understand the meaning in this sentence.

If readers still do not understand the meaning of the second sentence, please read the Tao Te Ching, or any other good Daoist texts. The truths remain in those texts forever waiting for the earnest. Not unlike the truth hidden in the second line of Kun probably reserved for the sincere and earnest students. If Wilhelm and/or his teacher knew about this hidden truth, they never said. Sometimes it could be beneficial for the truth to remain hidden and let the earnest search for it.

Meanwhile the Yi scholars and experts still have occasions to discourse the meaning of the second line of Kun in time to come. It is alright; one still learns something from these discourses and is aware of one’s limited knowledge. After all, one only knows a touch, a touch of the ancients.

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