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27 – Twenty-Seven I / Providing Nourishment
Beneath the immobile Mountain the arousing Thunder stirs:
The Superior Person preserves his freedom under oppressive conditions by watching what comes out of his mouth, as well as what goes in.
Endure and good fortune will come.
Nurture others in need, as if you were feeding yourself.
Take care not to provide sustenance for those who feed off others.
Stay as high as possible on the food chain.
You are a conduit in this instance, able to provide the sustenance needed by others.
Position yourself to nourish the truly needy and worthy.
Avoid situations where you might be coerced into supporting the parasites and vermin who deprive your true charges.
Your own nourishment is an issue here, too.
Remember Lao Tzu’s three Great Treasures:
Only the person possessed of Compassion, Modesty and Frugality can remain fit enough to stay free of desperation and keep control of the situation.
This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are firm lines of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.
THE CORNERS OF THE MOUTH.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.
In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men through them. Mencius says about this:
If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his nature is a superior man.1
At the foot of the mountain, thunder:
The image of PROVIDING NOURISHMENT.
Thus the superior man is careful of his words
And temperate in eating and drinking.
“God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing”: when in the spring the life forces stir again, all things come into being anew. “He brings to perfection in the sign of Keeping Still”: thus in the early spring, when the seeds fall to earth, all things are made ready. This is an image of providing nourishment through movement and tranquillity. The superior man takes it as a pattern for the nourishment and cultivation of his character. Words are a movement going from within outward. Eating and drinking are movements from without inward. Both kinds of movement can be modified by tranquillity. For tranquillity keeps the words that come out of the mouth from exceeding proper measure, and keeps the food that goes into the mouth from exceeding its proper measure. Thus character is cultivated.