Hilary Barrett, I Ching

Great Possession as Offering

Just one more of those moving-line-related connections that makes it look for all the world as if the people who wrote this oracle knew what they were doing -

Start with Hexagram 14, Great Possession -
||||:|

‘Activate’ its third and fourth lines – change them by opening them out from yang into yin, solid into broken – and you have Hexagram 41, Decrease and Offering –
||:::|

The two lines whose ‘opening’ creates this change and connection flank the threshold between inner and outer trigrams; they’re the lines in the ‘human’ position, between heaven and earth. The Chinese name for hexagram 41 shows the sacred vessel, the ding of Hexagram 50, with a human hand beside it, as if ready to make the offering:
sun, Decrease

The elegance of this is so perfect… I wish I had the eyes to see more like this…

And then there’s the content of those lines in 14 that create Great Possession’s Offering:

‘A prince makes a summer offering to the son of heaven.
Small people are in no way capable of this.’

‘It is not for you to dominate,
No mistake.’

There is the question of who will make the offering, of having the resources to do so; there is the advice that not exerting influence, not being in control, is not a problem. Readiness to make offering, and letting go some responsibility and control… together, these point you towards Decrease.

It’s interesting to look at the lines pointing back the other way, too, from 41 to 14:

‘Three people walking,
Hence decreased by one person.
One person walking,
Hence gains a friend.’

‘Decreasing your affliction,
Sending the message swiftly brings rejoicing.
Not a mistake.’

So these are how offering gains great possession – a friend, and rejoicing. Where subsequent lines talk about gaining the blessing of spirits or the strength of servants, these two in particular seem to be about human communication and connection – friends, helpers and companions on the path. Make sense, doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge