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4 -- Inexperience -- 4





Other Titles: Youthful Folly, The Symbol of Covering, Immaturity, Uncultivated Growth, Youth, Acquiring Experience, Youthful Ignorance, Enveloping, Folly, Darkness "Often the I Ching uses this hexagram to show us that we should not be asking this question." -- D.F. Hook



Legge: Inexperience means progress and success. I do not seek the inexperienced youth, but he seeks me. When he shows the sincerity proper for divination, I instruct him. If he asks two or three times, that is troublesome, and I do not instruct the troublesome. Firm correctness brings advantage.

Wilhelm/Baynes: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.

Blofeld: Immaturity. Good fortune! I am not one to seek out uncultivated youths, but if such a youth seeks me out, I shall at first read and explain the omens. Yet should he ask me many times, just because of his importunity, I shall not explain anything more. The omen indicates a need for proper direction. [This hexagram suggests stubbornness (the upper trigram) issuing from the softness of the womb (the lower trigram). While it sometimes happens that youthful rashness succeeds where sober counsels fail, it is nevertheless the duty of the mature man to cultivate the minds of the young and to respond, within reason, to their requests for guidance. As an omen, this hexagram may be taken to imply a case in which a certain amount of rashness may lead to success, but in which older people are not absolved from the duty of guiding the young. There is also a suggestion that the Book of Change itself, though fully responsive to those who make the right approach, will not brook importunity in the form of trivial questions or of seeking to reverse its judgments by further questioning. Whether the omen may be taken to mean that we should go ahead with some rash scheme or that it is time for us to restrain someone's youthful rashness will depend upon the nature of the enquiry, the people concerned in it and the particular moving lines involved in the response.]

Liu: It is not I who seek him, the youth seeks me. The first time he asks, I answer; but if he asks again and again, it is annoyance: no answer. Benefit for continuance.

Ritsema/Karcher: Enveloping, Growing. In-no-way me seeking youthful Enveloping. Youthful Enveloping seeking me. The initial oracle-consulting notifying. Twice, three-times: obscuring. Obscuring, by-consequence not notifying. Harvesting Trial. [This hexagram describes your situation in terms of concealment and clouded awareness. It emphasizes that actively accepting this concealment in order to nurture growth is the adequate way to handle it...]

Shaughnessy: Folly: Receipt; it is not we who seek youthful folly; youthful folly seeks us. The initial milfoil divination is auspicious, but if two or three times drawn out, being drawn out then it is not auspicious; beneficial to determine.

Cleary(1): In darkness is development. It is not that I seek naïve innocence; naïve innocence seeks me. The first augury informs; the second and third defile. Defilement does not inform. It is beneficial to be correct.

Cleary(2):Darkness. Getting through. It is not that I seek the ignorant; the ignorant seek me. The first pick informs, the second and third muddle. That which is muddled does not inform. Benefit is a matter of correctness.

Wu:Ignorance is pervasive. It is not that I ask the ignorant lad to come for instruction. It is that the ignorant lad comes to request my instruction. As in divination, he will be instructed the first time. If he asks the same question for the second and third times, he is disrespectful. Having been judged disrespectful, he will not be instructed again. It will be advantageous to be persevering.


The Image

Legge: A spring issuing from the mountain -- the image of Inexperience. The superior man, in accordance with this, nourishes his virtue and strives for resoluteness of conduct.

Wilhelm/Baynes: 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.

Blofeld: This hexagram symbolizes a watery hole at the foot of a mountain amidst uncultivated growth. The Superior Man by determined good conduct nourishes his virtue. [The second sentence is deduced from the first; both are suggested by the component trigrams.]

Liu: A spring comes out at the foot of the mountain; this symbolizes Youth. The superior man will cultivate his character through decisive action.

Ritsema/Karcher: below Mountain issuing-forth spring-water. Enveloping. A chun tzu uses fruiting movement to nurture actualizing-tao. [Actualize-tao: ... Ability to follow the course traced by the ongoing process of the cosmos ... Linked with acquire, TE: acquiring that which makes a being become what it is meant to be.]

Cleary (1): Under a mountain a spring is produced, in darkness. A superior person nurtures character with fruitful action.

Cleary (2): Under a mountain emerges a spring, in darkness. Leaders use effective action to nurture inner qualities.

Wu: A spring flows at the foot of a mountain; this is Ignorance. The jun zi resolves to taking steps to cultivate his virtue.



Confucius/Legge:Inexperience shows the trigram of the Mountain above that of the Abyss. The perilous impasse suggested by these figures evokes the idea of inexperience. Progress and success are suggested because the action and development of the hexagram conform to the requirements of the time. When inexperience seeks wisdom, will responds to will. The oracle responds to sincerity because it has the qualities of the dynamic line in the central second place, but the oracle does not respond to ignorant importuning. The proper duty of a sage is to nourish the correct nature of the ignorant.

Legge: Difficulty shows us plants struggling within the earth, and Inexperiencesuggests the small and undeveloped sprouts which then appear upon its surface. This is an image of youthful ignorance, and the object of the hexagram is to show how those in authority should deal with it. The Judgment takes the form of the oracle's response to the questioner.

The upper trigram represents a frowning mountain which blocks the progress of the traveler. The lower trigram symbolizes a stream of water in a dangerous canyon, such as might be found at the foot of a mountain. The combination of these symbols suggests the perilous nature of ignorant inexperience.

The subject of line two represents the oracle, who demands sincerity from the unenlightened. It is his duty to evoke the innate "correct nature" hidden within the questioner, to bring this quality out and develop it. In regard to the Image, Chu Hsi says that "the water of a spring is sure to move on and gradually advance." This may serve as a symbol of the general process and progress of education.



Judgment: Inexperience portrays the relationship between the ego and the Self as one of student to master. Communication via the oracle demands seriousness of purpose -- the Self refuses to pander to the ego's illusions.

The Superior Man furthers the Work by developing his will and intent.

Wilhelm's title for this hexagram is Youthful Folly, which tends to lend it a negative connotation that is not always strictly applicable. However, he is quick to point out that the title "should be understood to mean the immaturity of youth and its consequent lack of wisdom, rather than mere stupidity."

While the title of Inexperience avoids the negative connotation, it must be acknowledged that there is an aura of irritation in this hexagram which illustrates an uncomfortable truth about the relationship between the ego and the Self. The Self is an awesome archetype, and once one has established contact with him, he assumes a distinctly stern personality. The Self will not pander to the ego's illusions, and has no patience with anything but the unvarnished truth. Tact and patience are not among his attributes. Lao Tse describes him very accurately:

The Sage is unkind: He treats the people like sacrificial straw dogs.

Which is just the way it is. As a satellite of the Self, the ego-complex was not created just so that it could spend a lifetime indulging its fantasies. The Work must be undertaken, and the Self knows more than you do what remains to be done. Like any excellent teacher, he demands more of us than we think we have in us to give. This phenomenon of the tyrannical and often "unjust" Self has been noted in many times and places. Here is an example from Neo-Platonism:

What shall we say in regard to the question: "Why do the divinities that are invoked require the worshipper to be just, although they themselves when entreated consent to perform unjust acts?" In reply to this I am uncertain in respect to what is meant by "performing unjust acts," as the same definition may not appear right both to us and to the gods. We, on the one hand, looking to that which is least significant, consider the things that are present, the momentary life, what it is and how it originates. The beings superior to us, let me say, know for certain the whole life of the soul and all its former lives; and if they bring on a retribution from the supplication of those who invoke them, they do not increase it beyond what is just. On the contrary, they aim at the sins impressed upon the soul in former lifetimes, which men do not perceive, and so imagine that is unjust that they fall into the misfortunes which they suffer.
Iamblichus -- The Egyptian Mysteries

A contemporary expression of this idea comes from consciousness researcher, John Lilly, famous for his work with dolphins and isolation tank experiments with psychedelic drugs:

Cosmic Love [e.g., the Spiritual Self] is absolutely Ruthless and Highly Indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.
John Lilly

By definition, "the gods" (archetypes) are not human. Were it possible for them to evolve without human vessels in Spacetime, presumably we humans would not exist. It is these archetypes, in the guise of our complexes and limiting beliefs, that are being altered by the Work. Because the unconscious psyche is a multiverse, it is sometimes very difficult to differentiate just "who" is advising us, and the Self via the oracle, will occasionally test us for our ability to use intuitive common sense.

Which is to say: when the gods (or the "Self") become totally "unreasonable," we can only go along with them to the limit of our human understanding. Slavish obedience to all injunctions from the unconscious is to sell our souls outright to something that we don't understand. The renunciation of "common sense" is the renunciation of our most precious birthright.

On the other hand, to "disobey" at will is to put our souls at risk. This is one of the most painful of all dilemmas -- how far do we go in our obedience to unseen powers? Aspects of this problem have been called The Dark Night of the Soul -- an inner initiation, a trial by fire to see what we are really made of. There are times in the advanced course of the Work when one receives the strange insight that the Self actually wants us to disobey! This ordeal can only be lived through -- no one can advise you except your own sense of what is right for you at any given moment.

The most useful guideline that I have found is that the precepts of the Work (as found in the Perennial Philosophy) are consistent worldwide, and constitute a reliably moral structure for responsible choice. If the oracle seems to be telling you to do something contrary to your inner sense of right and wrong, contrary to your understanding of the precepts of the Work, then go with this intuition rather than the oracle. The Self, via the oracle, will test you in many ways to make you develop. (The ultimate goal is to become so infallibly intuitive that oracles become superfluous.)

The gods need our intelligent disobedience if they themselves are to evolve. It is in the stress between obedience and conscientious disobedience that growth takes place. In one sense, whatever choice you make, as long as it is conscious and you fully accept the consequences, is the right choice for you at that moment. We learn through our mistakes, and can never fail our lessons if we truly integrate the experience into our unfolding lives.

Confucius, one of the greatest teachers who ever lived, obviously took his teaching method from the Judgment of this hexagram:

The Master said:"I won't teach a man who is not anxious to learn, and will not explain to one who is not trying to make things clear to himself. And if I explain one- fourth and the man doesn't go back and reflect and think out the implications in the remaining three-fourths for himself, I won't bother to teach him again."

And so it is with the oracle (the Self) -- the deeper one gets involved in the Work, the more difficult the lessons become, so that one is always kept in a position of relative Inexperience. There are times, when a simple answer would suffice, that you will receive an ambiguous image, which (if you do three-fourths of the work), will lead you to a profound insight.


Legge: The first line, magnetic, has respect to the dispelling of ignorance. It will be advantageous to use punishment for that purpose, and to remove the shackles from the mind. But going on in that way of punishment will give occasion for regret.

Wilhelm/Baynes: To make a fool develop it furthers to apply discipline. The fetters should be removed. To go on in this way brings humiliation.

Blofeld: To enlighten immature youth, it is advisable to apply discipline; even fetters may be required, but to use them overmuch is harmful.

Liu: To enlighten youth, it is better to use discipline. Obstacles in the mind should be removed. Otherwise, humiliation.

Ritsema/Karcher: Shooting forth Enveloping. Harvesting: availing-of punishing people. Availing-of stimulating fettering shackles. Using going abashed.

Shaughnessy: Discarding folly; beneficial to use a punished man, and herewith to remove shackles and manacles. What has already gone is stressful.

Cleary (1): Opening up darkness, it is advantageous to use punishments. If restrictions are removed, it will lead to regret.

Cleary (2): To awaken the ignorant, it is beneficial to use punishments; if restrictions are eased, it will be regrettable to go that way.

Wu: This shows how to instruct the ignorant. It will be advantageous to use punishment, but let go manacles or shackles, for they will bring humiliation.



Confucius/Legge: The object of punishment is to bring her under the influence of correcting law. Wilhelm/Baynes: Discipline: In order to give emphasis to the law. Blofeld: Though it is advisable to apply discipline, this must be done in accordance with just rules. Ritsema/Karcher: Using correcting laws indeed. Cleary (1): It is beneficial to use punishments, by the correct method. [The correct method of breaking down ignorance is not emotional attack.] Wu: It is a method of correcting wayward behaviors.

Legge: The first line, magnetic, and at the bottom of the figure, is in the grossest ignorance. Let her be punished. If punishment avails to loosen the shackles from the mind, well and good. If not, and if the punishment is prolonged, the effect will be bad.



Siu: At the outset, the ignorant youth is being disciplined for the seriousness of life. Care should be exercised against attempts at rigid regimentation of the mind.

Wing: A little discipline is necessary here. There is not enough seriousness of attitude concerning the work to be done, and therefore the atmosphere is not conducive to proper growth. Yet, keep in mind that too many restrictions may lead to uncreative development. Apply just enough guidelines to keep things moving in the proper direction.

Editor: Wilhelm, Blofeld and Liu all render "punishment" as "discipline." The idea is that the discipline of a rigid structure, or confinement to basic principles prunes the psyche of its illusions -- "removes the shackles from the mind." Excessive discipline is counterproductive, however: A dynamic balance must be sought between the tyrannies of permissiveness and repression. The line is saying two things, and the balance between them is the lesson. If this is the only changing line, the hexagram becomes number 41, Compensating Sacrifice, which deals with finding balance. (Note, however that both of Cleary’s translations interpret the message as a warning against removing shackles! His interpretation seems to be in the minority.)

In reality the highest form of compassion may be in withdrawing from a given person any direct physical aid that would spare him a painful lesson, withholding it so that he would never again have to act according to a particular kind of program. The best teachers know that compassion does not prevent pain but allows pain to teach. Of course, carried to an extreme this too can be used in the service of destruction.
John Lilly -- Simulations of God

A. Too much discipline is as bad as too little -- seek the mean.

B. The school of hard knocks -- learn from your pain or confusion.

C. Let go of your illusions or strongly held attitudes about the matter at hand.


Legge: The second line, dynamic, shows its subject exercising forbearance with the ignorant, in which there will be good fortune; and admitting even the goodness of women, which will also be fortunate. He may be described also as a son able to sustain the burden of his family.

Wilhelm/Baynes: 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.

Blofeld: Being gentle with the immature brings good fortune. Taking a wife brings good fortune. Sons will be capable of taking over the household affairs when the strong (young) and the weak (old) are in mutual harmony.

Liu: To treat youth generously brings good fortune. Arranging a marriage brings good fortune. The son can take over the household.

Ritsema/Karcher: Enwrapping Enveloping. Significant. Letting-in the wife. Significant. The son controlling the dwelling.

Shaughnessy: Wrapping folly; auspicious. Sending in the wife; auspicious. The son can marry.

Cleary (1): Taking in darkness is good, taking a wife is good; the heir ably takes over the family affairs.

Cleary (2): It bodes well to embrace the ignorant. It bodes well to take a wife. The child becomes head of the family.

Wu: Accommodating the ignorant is auspicious. It is also auspicious to take a wife. A son will bring prosperity to the family.



Confucius/Legge: He is able to sustain the burden of his family because of the reciprocation between this dynamic line and the magnetic fifth line. Wilhelm/ Baynes: Firm and yielding are in union. Blofeld: [No Confucian commentary on this line, Ed.]Ritsema/Karcher: Solid and Supple articulating indeed. Cleary (2): Firmness and flexibility meeting and joining. Wu: The strong-minded and the softhearted have communicated with each other.

Legge: On the second line, dynamic and in the central place, devolves the task of enlightening the ignorant with forbearance and humility. In proof of his generosity he even receives or learns from weak and ignorant women. He appears as the son taking his father's place.



Siu: The man is tolerant of the ignorant and kind to women. He resembles an official capable of assuming the delegated duties of a prince in directing a large social body with inner strength and outward reserve.

Wing: The person in this position has indeed developed in himself a true appreciation of humanity in all of its folly and beauty. Such a person can lead others with wisdom, compassion, and inspiration, and attain all the success attributed to the great and wise historical leaders.

Editor: Because the I Chingis an empirically valid guide to ethical behavior, we must interpret the sexist imagery in Legge and Wilhelm's version of this line as intrapsychic symbolism. Ignorant: Aspects within the psyche resistant to change. Women: Eros function, emotions, feelings. To "admit even the goodness of women" is to acknowledge those feelings which nurture the psyche. Family:The psyche. Son: The conscious ego. (Father = the Self.) Able to sustain the burden of his family: Able to control psychic impulses.

From Sextus I learned a benevolent disposition, and the example of a family governed in a fatherly manner ... And to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration: he had the power of readily accommodating himself to all.
Marcus Aurelius

A. You are competent to handle the situation.

B. The image suggests the consciously responsible management of thoughts and feelings.


Legge: The third line, magnetic, shows that one should not marry a woman who, when she sees a man of wealth, will not keep herself from him. In no way will advantage come from her.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Take not a maiden who, when she sees a man of bronze, loses possession of herself. Nothing furthers.

Blofeld: Do not choose a wife who, on seeing a wealthy man, cannot contain herself. Nothing brings advantage. [This line, besides furnishing a specific warning to those with marriage in view, means generally that this time is unpropitious from the point of view of the enquirer, whatever his question may concern.]

Liu: Do not choose a girl who, when she sees a rich man, loses her control. No benefit.

Ritsema/Karcher: No availing-of grasping womanhood. Visualizing a metallic husband. Not possessing the body. Without direction: Harvesting. [Without direction: Harvesting, WU YU LI: no plan or direction is advantageous; in order to take advantage of the situation, do not impose a direction on events.]

Shaughnessy: Do not use to take a woman; see the metal fellow who does not have a torso; there is no place beneficial.

Cleary(1): Don’t take this woman in marriage; if she sees a moneyed man, she’ll lose herself. Nowhere beneficial.

Cleary(2): Do not take a girl to see a moneyed man, or she will lose herself, to no one’s benefit.

Wu: Marry the woman not. When she sees a wealthy man, she cannot keep her composure. Nothing good will come out of the marriage.



Confucius/Legge: A woman such as is here represented should not be taken in marriage -- her conduct is not agreeable to what is right. Wilhelm/ Baynes: Her conduct is not in accord with order. Blofeld: Do not take to wife one whose behavior is disorderly. Ritsema/Karcher: Movement not yielding indeed. Cleary(2): Do not introduce the girl because his conduct is not harmonious. Wu: her behavior is not beyond reproach.

Legge: The third line is magnetic and occupies a dynamic place beyond the center. She separates the fourth line from the second, and the fifth line separates her from her sixth line correlate. All these things give her a bad character.



Siu: The man guards against the loss of his individuality. He should not imitate persons of senior rank or act like a flippant girl throwing herself at a handsome man. Neither should he accept overtures from such subordinates.

Wing: You are in danger of throwing yourself away in a foolish attempt to be close to that which you fervently desire. Without strength of character and individuality you can accomplish nothing meaningful in life.

Editor: In the symbolic language of the unconscious psyche, the female principle is associated with Eros and the feelings. Line three depicts a woman unable to control herself, and by analogy some form of inappropriate emotional expression, desire or passion.

The study of epilepsy demonstrates conclusively that our feelings do not necessarily depend on anything going on in the real world around us, and that the strength of our feelings is not a measure of the authenticity of our experiences or the credibility of our beliefs. We can “feel" strongly about something and yet be dead wrong.
R. Restak -- The Brain

A. Don't throw yourself away: curb your urges, compulsions, impulses or emotions.

B. An image of a bad deal or bad alliance.

C. Stop over-reacting to the situation at hand.


Legge: The fourth line, magnetic, shows its subject as if bound in chains of ignorance. There will be occasion for regret.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Entangled youthful folly brings humiliation.

Blofeld: Obstinacy and immaturity cause harm. [This line may also be taken as a warning against a too idealistic or visionary attitude.]

Liu: The youth beset by confusion. Humiliation.

Ritsema/Karcher: Confining Enveloping. Abashment.

Shaughnessy: Bound folly; distress.

Cleary(1): Stuck in darkness, there is regret.

Cleary(2): Stuck in darkness, regretful.

Wu: Being besieged by ignorance is a cause for regret.



Confucius/Legge: This is due to her distance from the solidity shown in lines two and six. Wilhelm/Baynes: This line of all things is furthest from what is real. Blofeld: They harm us by leading us astray from the right course. Ritsema/Karcher: Solitariness distancing substance indeed. Cleary (2): The regret of being stuck in darkness is having strayed from reality on one’s own. Wu: The subject is alone and far from the yang.

Legge: The fourth line is far from both the second and sixth, and can get no help from her first line correlate who is as weak as she is. What good can be done with or by her?



Siu: Clinging to folly inevitably means humiliation. The wise teacher may have to instruct by letting the subject experience the consequences of his errors.

Wing: Your fantasies and obsessions will consume you. Your attitude is unrealistic in regard to what is really going on in your life and therefore you cannot be instructed. You may ultimately be saved by experiencing fully the humiliation that follows.

Editor: This is an image of confusion and illusion. In the best sense, it's a counsel against making a foolish choice. (i.e., hopefully you haven't made it yet.)

Thus comes about what is called "loss of wings" or the "chaining" of the soul. Its no longer are the ways of innocence in which ... it presided over the higher realms. Life above was better by far than this. A thing fallen, chained, at first barred off from intelligence and living only by sensation, the soul is, as they say, in tomb or cavern pent.
Plotinus -- The Enneads

A. Illusion prevails -- you are totally out of touch with reality.

B. "Don't touch the tar baby."


Legge: The fifth line, magnetic, shows its subject as a simple lass without experience. There will be good fortune.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Childlike folly brings good fortune.

Blofeld: Youthful innocence brings good fortune. [Here the Chinese text suggests that we are dealing not with youthful folly but with the innocent misdemeanors of quite small children.]

Liu: The youth submits. Good fortune. [If you receive this line, you can expect to attain your goals easily.]

Ritsema/Karcher: Youthful Enveloping. Significant.

Shaughnessy: Youthful folly; auspicious.

Cleary(1): Innocence is auspicious.

Cleary(2): Innocent ignorance has a good outlook.

Wu: Being an ignorant lad will be auspicious.



Confucius/Legge: Her good fortune is due to her docility going on to humility. Wilhelm/Baynes: The good fortune of the childlike fool comes from his being devoted and gentle. Blofeld: This is because such conduct coincides with what is soft and gentle. Ritsema/Karcher: Yielding uses Ground indeed. Cleary (2): Harmonizing smoothly. Wu: (This) is due to his docility and humility.

Legge: Line five is in the place of honor, and has for its correlate the dynamic line in the second place. Being receptive, it is taken as the symbol of a simple lass, willing to be taught by its dynamic correlate in line two.



Siu: The unassuming youth seeking instruction with humility gains good fortune.

Wing: An attitude of innocent acceptance in regard to seeking advice from others will be rewarded. Good fortune.

Editor: As so often in theI Ching, the full meaning of this line is found in the relationship between it and its correlate. The second line is the dynamic sage, and the fifth line is the magnetic (receptive) student. As the ruler of the hexagram, line five exemplifies the idea of receptivity to instruction necessary for the evolution of ignorance into gnosis. This is the relationship of the inexperienced ego to the omniscient Self.

Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion; follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
– T. H. Huxley

A. "Awaken the mind by fixing it nowhere." -- Zen proverb.

B. Accept your ignorance and inexperience and humbly devote yourself to comprehension of the Work.


Legge: The sixth line, dynamic, shows one smiting the ignorant youth. But no advantage will come from doing him an injury. Advantage would come from warding off injury from him.

Wilhelm/Baynes: In punishing folly it does not further one to commit transgressions. The only thing that furthers is to prevent transgressions.

Blofeld: In dealing with youthful immaturity, there is nothing to be gained from doing what is wrong. Advantage lies in preventing wrong. [In other words, we must be very careful to avoid putting ourselves in the wrong by being unjust or too severe in correcting the faults of our juniors.]

Liu: To punish youth, it does no good to commit a violation. The idea is to prevent a violation.

Ritsema/Karcher: Smiting Enveloping. Not Harvesting: activating outlawry. Harvesting: resisting outlawry.

Shaughnessy: Hitting the folly; not beneficial to be a robber, beneficial to have that which robs.

Cleary (1): Attacking darkness, what is not helpful is inimical, what is helpful prevents enmity.

Cleary (2): Attack ignorance. It is not beneficial to be a robber; it is beneficial to ward off robbers.

Wu: There is an indication of striking the ignorant. It will not be advantageous to be offensive. It will be advantageous to be defensive.



Confucius/Legge: Above and below all do and are done to in accordance with their nature. Wilhelm/Baynes: "It furthers to prevent transgressions," for then those above and below conform to order. Blofeld: Preventing wrong has the advantage of bringing senior and junior into accord. [Improperly applied discipline may lead the young to hate those whom they are expected to love. Few young people gladly kiss the rod before punishment.] Ritsema/Karcher: Above and Below yielding indeed. Cleary (2): It is beneficial to ward off robbers, for then above and below are in harmony. Wu: Because it is agreeable to the above and the below.

Legge: Line six is dynamic and in the topmost place. It is natural, but unwise, for him to use violence in carrying out his educational measures. He represents, according to the scheme of the hexagram, one who uses force in the cause of education; but the force is best applied, not on the ignorant, but on those who would keep them ignorant, or increase their ignorance. He therefore acts according to his nature, and the subjects of all the magnetic lines below are cared for as is best for them.



Siu: The man inflicts penalties not in anger but only as a preventive against unreasonable excesses.

Wing: An inexperienced person may need to be punished for his mistakes in order to put him on the right path. Punishment is by no means an end in itself, but is useful only in preventing further transgressions and maintaining a progressive attitude.

Editor: The imagery of line six can suggest the idea of Karma: a law of just compensation neutralizing past transgressions. In other words, "punishment" is only effective when it is used to correct an imbalance of forces, not to perpetuate injustice. Properly applied, discipline is never motivated by anger or a desire for revenge. Sometimes this line can suggest a situation in which external circumstances hold one in a kind of "protective custody" to prevent erroneous choices from being made.

None escapes the chastisements that it is fitting to undergo because of evil conduct. The divine law cannot be avoided. It has within itself the power to achieve what it has determined upon. Without knowing it, the guilty one is transported to places where it is suitable that it serve its sentence. Carried by uncertain movement, drifting everywhere, it ends, after wanderings and much fatigue because of foolish resistance, by tumbling into its appropriate place. And there it offers itself willingly to an unwilled suffering. Law prescribes the amount and duration of penalties. At the same moment that the penalty ceases, the power is given of escaping the place of chastisement thanks to the harmony that governs all things.
Plotinus -- The Enneads

A. Correction is not punishment. Accept the consequences of your choices. Don't focus on the pain, but rather on the lesson that it offers.

B. Do what needs doing and let the chips fall where they may.

April 19, 2001, 4/23/06