Hexagram 9, Judgement

小畜.  亨. 密雲不雨自我西郊。

Xu 畜: accumulate, make it grow in small amounts. According to Lu Deming 陸德明 (556-627) it was originally written as xu 蓄, ‘to store, save, grow’. The top part 艹 of this character is also found in the MWD form [艹+孰]. Also, the name of this hexagram in the received fragments of the Guicang 歸藏 (as given in Ma Guohan 馬清翰: 王函山房輯佚書) is 小毒畜. The second character is known as a loan for shu 熟, ‘to grow; ripe, mature’. The MWD form also has the 孰 compound. Some (like the Kang Xi 康熙 dictionary) say that the first two characters should be combined to 𣫶. Xu 畜 and du 毒 are close in meaning. They appear both in chapter 51 of the Daodejing 道德經:

故道生之,之;長之育之;亭之之;養之覆之。
Dao gives them life and nurtures them,
Rears and develops them.
It brings them to fruition and maturation,
Nourishes and guards over them.
(Tr. Ames & Hall)

In the Wangjiatai 王家台 Guicang this hexagram is called shao du 少督, ‘small governing’. In the Qianhua 清華 Biegua 別卦 manuscript it is called shao du 少䈞, ‘small sincereness’.

Xu 畜 is also known as a loan for xu 滀, ‘build up  (of) water’ (古代漢語通假字大字典, p. 588).

Wilhelm translates xu as ‘taming power’. This is similar to Legge’s translation of xu in the Mengzi. I will give the full paragraph in which xu occurs with Legge’s translation, otherwise the full meaning of the character and why it is translated as ‘restrain’ will be missed:

「昔者齊景公問於晏子曰:『吾欲觀於轉附、朝儛,遵海而南,放于琅邪。吾何脩而可以比於先王觀也?』晏子對曰:『善哉問也!天子適諸侯曰巡狩,巡狩者巡所守也;諸侯朝於天子曰述職,述職者述所職也。無非事者。春省耕而補不足,秋省斂而助不給。夏諺曰:「吾王不遊,吾何以休?吾王不豫,吾何以助?一遊一豫,為諸侯度。」今也不然:師行而糧食,飢者弗食,勞者弗息。睊睊胥讒,民乃作慝。方命虐民,飲食若流。流連荒亡,為諸侯憂。從流下而忘反謂之流,從流上而忘反謂之連,從獸無厭謂之荒,樂酒無厭謂之亡。先王無流連之樂,荒亡之行。惟君所行也。』景公說,大戒於國,出舍於郊。於是始興發補不足。召大師曰:『為我作君臣相說之樂!』蓋徵招角招是也。其詩曰:『君何尤?』君者,好君也。」
‘Formerly, the duke Jing of Qi asked the minister Yan, saying, “I wish to pay a visit of inspection to Zhuan Fu, and Chao Wu, and then to bend my course southward along the shore, till I come to Lang Xie. What shall I do that my tour may be fit to be compared with the visits of inspection made by the ancient sovereigns?” The minister Yan replied, “An excellent inquiry! When the Son of Heaven visited the princes, it was called a tour of inspection, that is, be surveyed the States under their care. When the princes attended at the court of the Son of Heaven, it was called a report of office, that is, they reported their administration of their offices. Thus, neither of the proceedings was without a purpose. And moreover, in the spring they examined the ploughing, and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the autumn they examined the reaping, and supplied any deficiency of yield. There is the saying of the Xia dynasty – If our king do not take his ramble, what will become of our happiness? If our king do not make his excursion, what will become of our help? That ramble, and that excursion, were a pattern to the princes. Now, the state of things is different. A host marches in attendance on the ruler, and stores of provisions are consumed. The hungry are deprived of their food, and there is no rest for those who are called to toil. Maledictions are uttered by one to another with eyes askance, and the people proceed to the commission of wickedness. Thus the royal ordinances are violated, and the people are oppressed, and the supplies of food and drink flow away like water. The rulers yield themselves to the current, or they urge their way against it; they are wild; they are utterly lost – these things proceed to the grief of the inferior princes. Descending along with the current, and forgetting to return, is what I call yielding to it. Pressing up against it, and forgetting to return, is what I call urging their way against it. Pursuing the chase without satiety is what I call being wild. Delighting in wine without satiety is what I call being lost. The ancient sovereigns had no pleasures to which they gave themselves as on the flowing stream; no doings which might be so characterized as wild and lost. It is for you, my prince, to pursue your course.” The duke Ching was pleased. He issued a proclamation throughout his State, and went out and occupied a shed in the borders. From that time he began to open his granaries to supply the wants of the people, and calling the Grand music-master, he said to him “Make for me music to suit a prince and his minister pleased with each other.” And it was then that the Zheng Zhao and Jiao Zhao were made, in the words to which it was said, “Is it a fault to restrain one’s prince?” He who restrains his prince loves his prince.’

Yang Cihu 杨慈湖 (1141-1226) refers to this anecdote to explain why xu in hexagram 9 means ‘to contain, to restrain’:

畜有包畜之義. 昔者齊景公問於晏子. 晏子正言而忠告之至. 㢲順也. 景公大悅召大師作君臣相悅之樂其. 詩曰畜君何尤則知畜有包畜之義.
Xu 畜 has the meaning of ‘to restrain’. When duke Jing of Qi asked Yanzi, Yanzi spoke upright and sincerely advised (him) to the fullest. (The trigram) Wind means ‘to follow, obey’. The duke of Qi being delighted (by this) summoned the Grand music-master to make music that suits a prince and minister that are pleased with each other. The Song says, “Is it a fault to restrain one’s prince?” Because of this we know that xu has the meaning of ‘to restrain’.
(Yangshi Yizhuan 楊氏易傳, , 卷五)

This restraining comes forth out of love and caring for the ruler, ‘love’ and ‘caring’ being other meanings of xu.

There is another reason why Wilhelm translated xu as ‘taming power’. The commentaries in the Zhouyi Zhezhong 周易折中 edition that he used for his translation say that xu means zhi 止, ‘to stop’.

Xiao xu 小畜 can refer to ‘small accumulation (of water)’: small amounts building up to a larger body. Here this body is still small in itself. The name of hexagram 26, da xu 大畜  can refer to a larger amount, resulting from accumulation.

Miyun 密雲: dense clouds.

Xijiao 西郊: the Western suburbs of the capital. Also a reference to the Western altar in that region. In the Yueling 月令 chapter of the Liji 禮記, which is also found in the Lüshi Chunqiu 呂氏春秋 and the Huainanzi 淮南子, we read

立秋之日,天子親帥三公、九卿、諸侯、大夫,以迎秋於西郊.
On the day of Li Qiu (the beginning of Autumn) , the Son of Heaven personally leads the Three Sires, the Nine Lords, and the great nobles to welcome the autumn at the altar of the western suburbs.
(Huainanzi, tr. John S. Major, p. 191)

Collectively the altars in the suburbs around the capital were known as the wujiao 五郊, the Five Suburban Altars. Each altar had its own ceremonial purpose at the start of the season, during which sacrifices were made to the corresponding God of the season and its wuxing 五行 Spirit:

謂東郊、南郊、西郊、北郊、中郊。古代禮儀,帝王於五郊設祭迎氣。立春之日,迎春於東郊,祭青帝句芒;立夏之日,迎夏於南郊,祭赤帝祝融;立秋前十八日,迎黃靈於中兆,祭黃帝后土;立秋之日,迎秋於西郊,祭白帝蓐收;立冬之日,迎冬於北郊,祭黑帝玄冥。
(They are) called the Eastern Suburbs, the Southern Suburbs, the Western Suburbs, the Northern Suburbs and the Central Suburbs. According to the rites in ancient times the emperor performed sacrifices at the Five Suburbs to welcome the Qi (of the seasons). On the day of Lichun (the first solar term, the beginning of Spring) (he) welcomed Spring at the Eastern Suburbs and sacrificed to Qing Di and Ju Mang. On the day of Lixia (the seventh solar term, the beginning of Summer) (he) welcomed Summer at the Southern Suburbs and sacrificed to Chi Di and Zhu Rong. 18 days before Liqiu (he) welcomed Huang Ling at the Central Altar and sacrificed to Huang Di and Hou Tu. On Liqiu (the thirteenth solar term, the beginning of Autumn) (he) welcomed Autumn at the Western Suburbs and sacrificed to Bai Di and Ru Shou. At the day of Lizhong (the nineteenth solar term, the beginning of Winter) (he) welcomed Winter at the Northern Suburbs and sacrificed to Hei Di and Xuan Ming.
(漢語大詞典)

The suburbs themselves were also regions for ceremonial duties:

王者所以親耕、后親桑何?以率天下農蠶也。天子親耕以供郊廟之祭,後之親桑以供祭服。(…) 耕於東郊何?東方少陽,農事始起。桑於西郊?西方少陰,女功所成。
Why does the King [inaugurate] the ploughing of the fields, and the Queen the picking of mulberry-leaves in person? It is to take the lead in the work of agriculture and sericulture in all under Heaven. The Son of Heaven ploughs in person to contribute to the sacrifices in the suburb and the ancestral temple. The Queen in person gathers the mulberry-leaves to contribute the sacrificial robes. (…) Why does the ploughing take place in the eastern suburb? The east [is the region where] the yang is young and where the work of husbandry begun. The gathering of mulberry-leaves takes place in the western suburb because the west [is the region where] the yin is young, [the place where] the toil of women takes fruit.
(Baihutong 白虎通, tr. Tjan Tjoe Som, p. 493)

Another name for the Western Suburban Altar is Xi Zhi 西畤, the Western Altar which during the Qin and Han dynasties was to be used by emperors to sacrifice to the higher gods:

太史公讀秦記,至犬戎敗幽王,周東徙洛邑,秦襄公始封為諸侯,作西畤用事上帝,僭端見矣。《禮》曰:「天子祭天地,諸侯祭其域內名山大川。」今秦雜戎翟之俗,先暴戾,後仁義,位在藩臣而臚於郊祀,君子懼焉。
Reading the Chronicle of Qin, I come to the time when the Quanrong barbarians defeated King You and Zhou moved east to the city of Luo. At this time Duke Xiang of Qin was first enfeoffed among the feudal lords and constructed the altar of the west, using it to serve the Lord on High. Here is the first sign of usurpation. The Ritual says: “The Son of Heaven shall sacrifice to Heaven and Earth; the feudal lords shall sacrifice to the famous mountains and great rivers within their domains.” At this time Qin followed many of the customs of the barbarians, putting violence first and disregarding benevolence and righteousness. It held the position of an enfeoffed subject, and yet it imitated the suburban sacrifice (of the Son of Heaven). Such behavior is enough to fill a gentleman with fear!
(Shiji 史記; tr. Burton Watson)

If in this line xijiao also refers to a place or region for sacrifices then this text (in combination with line 6) might describe a sacrifice for rain, performed by the king.

Small accumulation.
The offering is accepted.
Dense clouds (but yet) no rain coming from my Western Suburban Altar.

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12 Responses to Hexagram 9, Judgement

  1. Markku Kotiranta says:

    I think that I have cracked the code according to which Zhouyi has been written. I have found a rule, that I call the tree of life system, by studying the Old English rune poem and it seems to apply also to Zhouyi. The rule is very simple. It partitions things according to the degree of spirituality in them. Applied to Zhouyi this defines the meaning of the trigrams in the following way.

    ☷ deed
    ☶ feeling
    ☵ power
    ☴ control
    ☳ responsibility
    ☲ self-development
    ☱ community
    ☰ understanding

    Now, the meaning of a hexagram is always upper trigram – title – lower trigram, where the upper trigram describes the activity and the lower how it is done. Thus the meaning of this ninth hexagram is “to control taking care of the small with understanding”. More precisely it is here “to control procreation with understanding”.

    I think that I know the meaning of each part of this hexagram and am so able to demonstrate the code. Because I have access only to modern dictionaries there may be some errors and I know that I am not able to translate correctly all the hexagrams.

    My translation for the title and judgment is:

    The small 小 taken care of 畜

    … successfully 亨.
    Thick 密 clouds 雲 with no 不 rain 雨 on 自 my 我 western 西 horizon 郊.

    Thick clouds on western horizon might refer to a risk, as it can be understood also in other hexagrams. The Chinese language has a character, tài 泰, which means western wind, peace, and happiness. Maybe this could be the link.

    • You are projecting your own ideas on the Yi, thinking that the Yi has been written according to the ideas that you project on the book. But all you are doing is a) change the meanings of the trigrams (‘deed’, ‘feeling’, ‘,power’ etc. were not qualities of the trigrams when the book was written, nor are they now unless you can come up with a valid source for it), and b) change the meaning of the text to suit your assumptions. To translate 小畜 as ‘小 taken care of 畜’ is grammatically unsound, Jiao 郊 has never meant ‘horizon’, zi 自 should not be translated as ‘on’ and I would very much like to see a source in which tai 泰 is used with the meaning of ‘Western wind’. If you want to ‘crack the code’ (I doubt there is one) I’d suggest you look at proper original sources and start from there and not assume too much. After all, what does ‘to control procreation with understanding’ mean? It doesn’t make sense to me. Without some backup and substantiation/references to other sources I find your hypotheses very unlikely.

      • These are not my ideas. I have only found them. I have found more than ten tree of life systems all over the Old World. All of them follow this same system. It would be odd, if the system was unknown in China. The only research that I have found, that deals with these ideas is done with Kabbalah. Much of what Gershom Scholem says in his book ‘On the Kabbalah and its symbolism’ is compatible with the system.

        You want me to use the original sources. Well, the only original source I know is Zhouyi written in traditional Chinese. If some later source would be useful, why hasn’t the huge number of researchers within thousands of years solved this puzzle?

        As far as I know the grammar was at that time inconstant, we cannot count on any later rules. As I said, all my words come from modern dictionaries and they can therefore be unsuitable to this text. I agree that this brings errors. You are right about zì 自, it is actually ‘from’, but I chose ‘on’, because it feels better in English and it does not change the meaning.

        You don’t have to believe on any system. Just try it and see yourself. And what ‘to control procreation with understanding’ means will soon become clear to you.

        • ‘They’ haven’t solved ‘this puzzle’ because there isn’t a puzzle. I asked you for sources because you claim that Kun means ‘deed’, Gen means ‘feeling’ etc. but you don’t back that up. As I said, “these were not qualities of the trigrams when the book was written, nor are they now unless you can come up with a valid source for it.” As far as grammar is concerned, it was not ‘inconstant’, fortunately not. Even if it was it does not give you an excuse to deal with the text as you please. You can say that ‘on’ feels better in English but it definitely does not have the same meaning as ‘from’ and it surely is not what the original Chinese text says.

          If you think your system is logical and sound you should be able to explain to me what ‘to control procreation with understanding’ means. It is lazy to say that it ‘soon will become clear’ to me. If you want me to accept your ideas you should come up with something better than that.

          • The list tells the meaning of the trigrams. I should add, that on most systems ‘deed’ contains also ‘earth’ and ‘understanding’ ‘heaven’. The names of the trigrams only represent them. This is not very clear until you understand the hexagrams that talk about those concepts.

            By inconstant grammar I mean that the rules had variation between regions and I would guess that there were also disagreement between people. However, it seems to me that the text is written by only two persons. The grammar should be quite consistent on one hand for the judgments and for the other for the lines.

            The meaning of this hexagram becomes clear with the lines. It is literally ‘to control procreation with understanding’.

          • You say, “The list tells the meaning of the trigrams” and of course I can see that, and I repeatedly asked for sources but it seems you refuse to give these to me. You say, “I should add, that on most systems ‘deed’ contains also ‘earth’ and ‘understanding’ ‘heaven’” but what these ‘systems’ are you don’t say. When you say, “The meaning of this hexagram becomes clear with the lines. It is literally ‘to control procreation with understanding’” I disagree with that. You are merely interpreting the text to make it suit your own ideas, and you still don’t explain to me what ‘to control procreation with understanding’ means. You do a lot of assumptions and you consistently refuse to give me sources for your ideas. Without that this whole discussion is pointless. Earlier you said, “You don’t have to believe on any system” but apparently you want me to ‘believe’ your ideas as you refrain from giving factual material that I can check for myself. You are promoting a religion, nothing more.

          • I am not requesting anyone to believe anything. The tree of life system is only a tool. You don’t have to believe in a spade to dig a ditch. I plan to publish my study within a year or so. For now the only way to check the validity of the system is to try it on Zhouyi, unless you want to try it on some other system. I have mentioned two of these systems. The Old English rune poem and the tree of life in Kabbalah. Another is the Epic of Gilgamesh which uses the tree as its structure. (1. plate: deed and feeling, 2. plate: power, 3. plate: control, 5. plate: responsibility, 6. plate: self-development, 7. and 8. plates: community, 9. to 12. plates: understanding)

            There are many things that are contained in the meaning of this hexagram. It is better to explain them under each line. One of them is the question, who is the father of the children.

          • I don’t know what you mean with ‘the old English rune poem’, you should be more specific. It would be better to publish your study first instead of posting some unsubstantiated replies to my weblog. What you write doesn’t have anything to do with a translation of the text which is the focus of my Translation Notes. I’d suggest you start your own weblog and post your assumptions and hypotheses there. You still refuse to tell where your correlation of the so-called ‘degree of spirituality’ comes from, so I can only assume you made it up. As said, you give qualities to the trigrams that the ancient Chinese did not apply. If you had read my website you would have known that I am not interested in the correlation of the Yi with other systems that are alien to the Chinese world and their cosmology and philosophy. The last 30 years I have seen too much of these correlations and not a single one of them stood the test of objective observation and reasoning.

          • I will leave you alone, if you so wish. My idea was to give you information in advance about my findings, but it seems that you are not interested in my views. Unfortunately I have had to feel my way in the dark without any good previous research results. I was hoping to share my knowledge with someone so that also Zhouyi would have got a good translation. Now I perhaps have to offer my poor translation instead.

          • You will not get ‘a good translation’ if you apply alien concepts and build assumptions on hypotheses. If you want a good translation you should simply do that: translate, and start with the original text, its language, its history and usage in China. I am open to discuss ideas about the translation of the text of the Yi as far as they have to do with the text itself and not with wild claims about connections with other systems that have nothing to do with the Yijing.

          • Well, I guess I have to conceal those connections. Would it be ok to stick to my understanding, if I base it on a central idea that all the parts of a hexagram seem to fulfill? Practically taken this leads to the same result. There are other findings than the system.

          • When your understanding is based on the text that is fine, after all, that is what my Translation Notes are about. For interpretations of hexagrams themselves I suggest you visit the many groups and discussion boards that are on Facebook and elsewhere on internet.

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