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The original Richard Wilhelm translation for the hexagram...


Hexagram 18
Ku - Work on What Has Been Spoiled [Decay]

yang
yin above: Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain
yin
yang
yang below: Sun / The Gentle, Wind
yin


The Chinese character Ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. It is come about because the gentle indifference in the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. Since this implies guilt, the conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause. Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply "what has been spoiled" but "work on what has been spoiled".


THE JUDGEMENT


WORK ON WHAT HAS BEEN SPOILED
Has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Before the starting point, three days.
After the starting point, three days.


What has been spoiled through man's fault can be made good again through man's work. It is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work and danger- symbolised by crossing of the great water-but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation. This is expressed by the lines, "Before the starting point, three days. After the starting point, three days."
We must first know the causes of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start. Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered on, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start. Decisiveness and energy must take the place of inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning.

Monument Valley


The Mittens - Monument Valley, Arizona


THE IMAGE


The wind blows low on the mountain:
The image of DECAY.
Thus the superior man stirs up the people
And strengthens their spirit.


When the wind blows low on the mountain, it is thrown back and spoils the vegetation. This contains a challenge to improvement. It is the same with debasing attitudes and fashions; they corrupt human society. To do away with this corruption, the superior man must regenerate society. His methods likewise must be derived from the two trigrams, but in such a way that their effects unfold in orderly sequence. The superior man must first remove stagnation by stirring up public opinion, as the wind stirs up everything, and must strengthen and tranquillise the character of the people, as the mountain gives tranquillity and nourishment to all that grows in its vicinity.


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