6 — CONFLICT — 6


It is important to mind one’s step at the very beginning; then things will have a chance to work out all right.” 
— D.F. Hook


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. (Wilhelm/Baynes)

Contention; there is blockage of truth. Caution and moderation lead to good results, finality leads to bad results. It is beneficial to see a great person, not beneficial to cross a great river …Wariness within leads to good results, but ending up that way is unfortunate … etc. (Cleary)


Heaven and water go their opposite ways: the image of Conflict. Thus in all his transactions the superior man carefully considers the beginning. (Wilhelm/Baynes)

When heaven and water go in different directions, there is Contention. Superior people plan in the beginning when they do things. Thus the jun zi plans well before taking actions.. (Cleary)


The upper trigram of Strength here controls the lower trigram of Peril which is trying to attack it. Or it may also be seen as someone in a perilous situation contending with strong outside forces. The image is of contention and strife. The sincere yang line in the middle of the trigram of Peril gives a character to the whole figure — an individual so represented will be very cautious and have good fortune. But since contention is bad, even a sincere individual must fail if he pursues it to the bitter end. The fifth line represents the great man, whose agency is sure to be good. His decision in any matter of contention will be correct. The sixth line is also dynamic, but his action is likely to be too rash for a great enterprise, hence the warning about not attempting to cross the great stream. (Legge)


Judgment: Be careful, don’t attempt much, and don’t allow the situation to get out of hand.

The Superior Man is judicious about his choices of action to ensure that the situation remains stable.

The hexagram portrays a high level of tension. Wilhelm points out that the only “favorable” line is the ruler in the fifth place, and that all of the other lines symbolize people quarreling. It should also be noted that lines one through four counsel either retreat from contention or remaining passively in place. Only line five suggests that an active struggle can have a favorable outcome, and line six portrays the sorry fate of those who insist on “demanding their rights.” If we turn the hexagram upside down we have Waiting, which suggests some subtle truths about the proper way to handle stress.

At deciding lawsuits I am no better than anyone else; but what is necessary is to bring about a state of affairs in which there will be no lawsuits.”
~ Confucius


 If one does not perpetuate the affair (conflict), there is a little gossip. In the end, good fortune comes. (Wilhelm/Baynes)

Provided that affairs are not pressed through to the end and that as little as possible is said about them, they will end propitiously. (Blofeld)


Wilhelm/ Baynes: One must not prolong the conflict. The matter is finally decided clearly. 

Blofeld: This implies not dragging on a dispute. Though little should be said, its purport should be clear. 

Wu: Clarification will bring about understanding.

Notes and Paraphrases

Wing: Your position is such that you must avoid any Conflict or terminate it quickly. Don’t try to bring things to a decision or engage yourself in a dispute. You may feel a little victimized, but in the end all goes well.

A. Drop the subject, or stop what you’re doing.

B. Cease and desist — don’t allow the conflict to continue.

Editor: This is a clear injunction to abandon the subject of contention or your line of questioning. The “gossip” sometimes refers to the inner clamoring of hurt pride or bruised ego.

As well loose a flood as initiate legal proceedings; break off before the dispute begins.”
~ Proverbs 17: 14

Line 3

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. (Wilhelm/Baynes)

Depending upon ancient virtues. Continuing in this way leads to danger. In the end, good fortune. While working in public affairs, one should not seek achievement. (Liu)

The third line, magnetic, shows its subject keeping in the old place assigned for his support, and firmly correct. Perilous as the position is, there will be good fortune in the end. Should he perchance engage in the king’s business, he will not claim the merit of achievement. (Legge)

Eating old virtue; determination is dangerous. Someone follows the king’s service, without completion. (Shaughnessy)

Taking-in ancient actualizing-tao. Trial. Adversity, completing significant. Maybe adhering-to kingly affairs: without accomplishment. [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. Adversity (LI): Danger, threatening, malevolent demon … It indicates a spirit or ghost that seeks revenge by inflicting suffering upon the living. Pacifying or exorcizing such a spirit can have a healing effect.] (Ritsema/Karcher)


Here the line is magnetic in a dynamic place and thus unequal to the stress of the matter at hand. He withdraws from the arena, and even if forced into action he will stay safely in the background. “He keeps in the old place assigned for his support” literally means: “He eats his own virtue.” That is, he nourishes himself on his own natural endowment and does not contend for more than that. (Legge)

Wilhelm/Baynes: To obey the one above brings good fortune. 

Ritsema/Karcher: Adhering-to the above significant indeed.

Blofeld: The good fortune will result from obedience to superiors which stems from cherishing the ancient virtues.

Notes & Paraphrases

Editor: “Ancient virtues” suggest the principles of the Work, or the archetype of the psyche as an integrated whole. Symbolically, to “engage in the king’s business” is to undertake the Work on behalf of the Self.

If you want to be a good servant within the divine plan or salvation of the world, you must never forget that you do not live and work on your own strength. All power comes from God, and all powers you manifest come to you from your highest self — from God.”
~ Elisabeth Haich, Initiation

Don’t aspire beyond your proper place. Maintain a servant’s humility and, though it may not be apparent now, your commitment to the Work will eventually bear fruit.



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