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The original Richard Wilhelm translation for the hexagram...


噬嗑

Hexagram 21
Shih Ho - Biting Through

yang
yin above: Li / The Clinging, Fire
yang
yin
yin below: Chên / The Arousing, Thunder
yang

I Ching Online

I Ching Online

This hexagram represents an open mouth (cf. hexagram 27) with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet. To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle. Since the hexagram is made up of the trigrams for thunder and for lightning, it indicates how obstacles are forcibly removed in nature. Energetic biting through overcomes the obstacle that prevents joining of the lips; the storm with its thunder and lightning overcomes the disturbing tension in nature. Recourse to law and penalties overcomes the disturbances of harmonious social life caused by criminals and slanderers. The theme of this hexagram is a criminal lawsuit, in contradistinction to that of Sung, CONFLICT (6), which refers to civil suits.

Squirrel - Ede Holland 2009 - photo Lex van den Bos


THE JUDGEMENT


BITING THROUGH has success.
It is favourable to let justice be administered.


When an obstacle to union arises, energetic biting through brings success. This is true in all situations. Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking the way. To prevent permanent injury, vigorous measures must be taken at once. Deliberate obstruction of this sort does not vanish of its own accord. Judgement and punishment are required to deter or obviate it.
However, it is important to proceed in the right way. The hexagram combines Li, clarity, and Chên, excitement. Li is yielding, Chên is hard. Unqualified hardness and excitement would be too violent in meting out punishment; unqualified clarity and gentleness would be too weak. The two together create the just measure. It is of moment that the man who makes the decisions (represented by the fifth line) is gentle by nature, while he commands respect by his conduct in his position.

THE IMAGE


Thunder and lightning:
The image of BITING THROUGH.
Thus the kings of former times made firm the laws
Through clearly defined penalties.


Penalties are the individual applications of the law. The laws specify the penalties. Clarity prevails when mild and severe penalties are clearly differentiated, according to the nature of the crimes. This is symbolized by the clarity of lightning. The law is strengthened by a just application of penalties. This is symbolized by the terror of thunder. This clarity and severity have the effect of instilling respect; it is not that the penalties are ends in themselves. The obstructions in the social life of man increase when there is lack of clarity in the penal codes and slackness in executing them. The only way to strengthen the law is to make it clear and to make penalties certain and swift.


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