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Grace brings success. However, it is not the essential or fundamental thing; it is only the ornament and must therefore be used sparingly and only in little things. In the lower trigram of fire a yielding line comes between two strong lines and makes them beautiful, but the strong lines are the essential content and the weak line is the beautifying form. In the upper trigram of the mountain, the strong line takes the lead, so that here again the strong element must be regarded as the decisive factor. In nature we see in the sky the strong light of the sun; the life of the world depends on it. But this strong, essential thing is changed and given pleasing variety by the moon and the stars. In human affairs, aesthetic form comes into being when traditions exist that, strong and abiding like mountains, are made pleasing by a lucid beauty. By contemplating the forms existing in the heavens we come to understand time and its changing demands. Through contemplation of the forms existing in human society it becomes possible to shape the world.1
Fire at the foot of the mountain:
The image of GRACE.
Thus does the superior man proceed
When clearing up current affairs.
But he dare not decide controversial issues in this way.
The fire, whose light illuminates the mountain and makes it pleasing, does not shine far; in the same way, beautiful form suffices to brighten and to throw light upon matters of lesser moment, but important questions cannot be decided in this way. They require greater earnestness.
1. This hexagram shows tranquil beauty – clarity within, quiet without. This is the tranquillity of pure contemplation. When desire is silenced and the will comes to rest, the world-as-idea becomes manifest. In this aspect the world is beautiful and removed from the struggle for existence. This is the world of art. However, contemplation alone will not put the will to rest absolutely. It will awaken again, and then all the beauty of form will appear to have been only a brief moment of exaltation. Hence this is still not the true way of redemption. For this reason Confucius felt very uncomfortable when once, on consulting the oracle, he obtained the hexagram of GRACE.
“Adornment succeeds. It is beneficial to have somewhere to go on a small scale.
The success of adornment means flexibility comes forth to embellish firmness; so it succeeds. Partial firmness rises to embellish flexibility; so it is beneficial to have somewhere to go on a small scale. This is the celestial adornment. Stabilization by civilization is the adornment of humanity. Observe the celestial adornment to see the changes of the seasons; observe the adornment of humanity to develop the world.
There is fire below a mountain, adorning it; thus do cultured people bring clarity to government affairs without presumptuous adjudication.”
Excerpt From: Thomas Cleary. “I Ching.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/i-ching/id1312467526