Get used to living under dangerous circumstances. That makes us flexible and adaptable. Then we can confront, engage and conquer any adversity.
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This hexagram consists of a doubling of the trigram K’an. It is one of the eight hexagrams in which doubling occurs. The trigram K’an means a plunging in. A yang line has plunged in between two yin lines and is closed in by them like water in a ravine. As an image it represents water, the water that comes from above and is in motion on earth in streams and rivers, giving rise to all life on earth.
In man’s world K’an represents the heart, the soul locked up within the body, the principle of light inclosed in the dark – that is, reason. The name of the hexagram, because the trigram is doubled, has the additional meaning, “repetition of danger.” Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, not a subjective attitude. For danger due to a subjective attitude means either foolhardiness or guile. Hence too a ravine is used to symbolise danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.
The Abysmal repeated.
If you’re sincere, you have success in your heart,
And whatever you do succeeds.
Through repetition of danger we grow accustomed to it. Water sets the example for the right conduct under such circumstances. It flows on and on, and merely fills up all the places through which it flows; it does not shrink from any dangerous spot nor from any plunge, and nothing can make it lose its own essential nature. It remains true to itself under all conditions. Thus likewise, if one is sincere when confronted with difficulties, the heart can penetrate the meaning of the situation. And once we have gained inner mastery of a problem, it will come about naturally that the action we take will succeed. In danger all that counts is really carrying out all that has to be done- -thoroughness – and going forward, in order not to perish through tarrying in the danger.
Properly used, danger can have an important meaning as a protective measure. Thus heaven has its perilous height protecting it against every attempt at invasion, and earth has its mountains and bodies of water, separating countries by their dangers. Thus also rulers make use of danger to protect themselves against attacks from without and against turmoil within.
Water flows on uninterruptedly and reaches its goal:
The image of the Abysmal repeated.
Thus the superior man walks in lasting virtue
And carries on the business of teaching.
Water reaches its goal by flowing continually. It fills up every depression before it flows on. The superior man follows its example; he is concerned that goodness should be an established attribute of character rather than an accidental and isolated occurrence. So likewise in teaching others everything depends on consistency, for it is only through repetition that the pupil makes the material his own.