In the comments section of the ‘Did the Yi speak? (2)’ entry, Regresso made some relevant comments on whether the Yi will speak at different levels to commoners and nobles. And whether there can be an easier way to study the Yi and the necessity to cultivate virtues. My draft reply was half complete, when one felt the urge to consult the Yi on two shares investment which could not wait since there is an ongoing broad based rally in the KLSE, started late Tuesday after the expected dips.
Since there were two separate questions, one had to decide which to ask first. (I usually consult on two investments in a day.) While one was separating the bunch of yarrow stalks and during the counting off of four stalks, at times my mind drifted off to how best to reply Regresso’s comment.
If you ever wanted to know whether the Yi had picked up on those wanderings, or did the Yi want to have a final say on the matter, please read on.
In the first oracle, the answer came in the form of Hexagram 24 Fu / Return with the first two lines moving changing it to Hexagram 7 Shi / The Army.
The judgment in Fu says:
Return. Success. Going in and coming in without error. Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the way. On the seventh day comes return. It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
The first line means:
Return from a short distance. No need for remorse. Great good fortune.
Slight digressions from the good cannot be avoided, but one must turn back in time, before going too far. This is especially important in the development of character; every faintly evil thought must be put aside immediately, before it takes root in the mind. Then there is no cause for remorse, and all goes well.
The second line means:
Quiet return. Good fortune.
Return always calls for a decision and is an act of self-mastery. It is made easier if a man is in good company. If he can bring himself to put aside pride and follow the example of good men, good fortune results.
The judgment in Shi says:
The Army. The army needs perseverance and a strong man. Good fortune without blame.
If you take a moment to reflect on what the Yi wanted to say on the matter raised by Regresso – ignore my two investment questions, one knows what the Yi wanted to tell me – perhaps you can understand why it is an important message to Yi aficionados. The commentary offered in the Wilhelm translation is a summary of what has been said and thought in connection with the hexagrams and the lines in the course of many centuries by China’s most distinguished philosophers [W/B 255]. And therefore should be read for a better understanding of what the Yi wanted to say.
For the easy reference of some readers, one will paraphrase what the Yi said.
To and fro goes the Way (Tao). Slight digressions from the good are human. But one must turn back in time, before going too far. This is important in the development of character. The Junzi is someone who shows greatness of character (thus of noble character). However not all nobles – illustrious by rank, title or birth – or sons of nobles is considered a Junzi. It depends on a person’s intent and actions. (See Analects and the entry on ‘Three types of man’) The way to possess great character for anyone is to cultivate virtues and self. It is made easier if a man is in good company (friends). If we can put aside pride and follow the example of ancient sages and the wise, good fortune results. Of course we will need discipline (like in the army) to make a return to the light and the Way.
While casting the second oracle, one felt an awareness that something will happen. It became more acute just before one divided the bunch of yarrow into two for the last or top line. Obtaining a dark or light line really depends on the division. The division of the forty nine stalks should be as natural as possible. It does not matter which divided half contains more stalks.
The second oracle came in the form of Hexagram 27 Yi / The Corners of the Mouth with the first and fourth lines moving changing it to Hexagram 35 Jin / Progress.
The judgment in Yi says:
The Corners of the Mouth. Perseverance brings good fortune. Pay heed to the providing of nourishment and to what a man seeks to fill his own mouth with.
Mencius says about this:
If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his nature is a superior man.
The first line means:
You let your magic tortoise go, and look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping. Misfortune.
The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment. The image means that a man fitted by nature and position to live freely and independently renounces this self-reliance and instead looks with envy and discontent at others who are outwardly in better circumstances. But such base envy only arouses derision and contempt in those others. This has bad results. (Perhaps the Yi whacked me on the head? If true, probably the Yi may have misunderstood British humor or my sense of humor.)
The fourth line means:
Turning to the summit for provision of nourishment brings good fortune. Spying about with sharp eyes like a tiger with insatiable craving. No blame.
In contrast to the six in the second place, which refers to a man bent exclusively on his own advantage, this line refers to one occupying a high position and striving to let his light shine forth. To do this he needs helpers, because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone. With the greed of a hungry tiger he is on the lookout for the right people. Since he is not working for himself but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.
The judgment in Jin says:
Progress. The powerful prince is honored with horses in large numbers. In a single day he is granted audience three times.
Hexagram Yi teaches man how to cultivate. Mencius weighed in with his comments: ‘If one cultivates inferior parts of one’s nature, one becomes an inferior man (Xiao Ren). If one cultivates superior parts of one’s nature, one becomes a superior man (Junzi)’. The Yi then advises us not to envy others. Just cultivate until your light shine forth. (This is also applicable to neidan practitioners.) And you will be in the fourth line to let your light shine forth for the common good. To do this you will need helpers of the right kind. The sharp eyes of a hungry tiger will help to discern who the right people are. The correct way of command (as in the army) and a much easier way is to influence experts and teachers and through them the students and people. Thereby there is progress and the powerful prince is honored with horses in large numbers. In a single day he is granted audience three times. (By coincidence, after Regresso’s initial comment, in a single day, Luis and Regresso together granted me, an audience three times!)
Readers will have to draw their own conclusions on whether the Yi has spoken or not. And if the Yi’s comments were relevant to what was discussed by Luis and Regresso, and to all Yi aficionados on the cultivation of virtues to return to Tao.
In case, just like the Yi you had missed my sense of humor, comments made in jest are usually accompanied by exclamation marks. The Yi’s sense of humor is in full display since one was given private tuition on two lines changes consecutively within a day! (Remember my joke on Professor Sam Crane getting his? Probably the Yi whacked my head for that remark!)