You cannot save people from their own obstinacy. They will just have to suffer consequences for their actions.
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21 – Twenty-One Shih Ho / Biting Through
The merciless, searing judgement of Lightning fulfills the warning prophecies of distant Thunder.
Sage rulers preserved Justice by clearly defining the laws, and by delivering the penalties decreed.
Though unpleasant, it is best to let justice have its due.
A terrible reckoning is due.
A wrong will be righted — and even if it has been you who has been wronged, you will tremble at the terrible power of Justice untempered by Mercy.
Pray for your oppressor, that his punishment will fit his crime.
Nine at the top means:
His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue,
So that his ears disappear.
In contrast to the first line, this line refers to a man who’s incorrigible. His punishment is the wooden cangue, and his ears disappear under it—that is to say, he is deaf to warnings. This obstinacy leads to misfortune.1
51 – Fifty-One Chên / Thunder
Thunder echoes upon Thunder, commanding reverence for its father Heaven:
In awe of Heaven’s majestic power, the Superior Person looks within and sets his life in order.
Thunder mingles with startled screams of terror for a hundred miles around.
As the people nervously laugh at their own fright, the devout presents the sacrificial chalice with nary a drop of wine spilt.
A thunderbolt of Cosmic judgement crashes to earth.
For the common person, it’s just a momentary fright soon forgotten, its warning unfathomed and unheeded.
But to one who understands its significance, this thunder is a signal to repent.
Centering the Self, seeking balance, the enlightened person will respect and align himself with this Higher Power, while his fellows remain subject to the whims of every passing storm.
1. It should be noted here that there is an alternative interpretation of this hexagram, based on the idea, “Above, light (the sun); below, movement.” In this interpretation the hexagram symbolizes a market below, full of movement, while the sun is shining in the sky above. The allusion to meat suggests that it is a food market. Gold and arrows are the articles of trade. The disappearance of the nose means the vanishing of smell, that is, the person in question is not covetous. The idea of poison points to the dangers of wealth, and so on throughout.
Confucius says in regard to the nine at the beginning in this hexagram: “The inferior man is not ashamed of unkindness and does not shrink from injustice. If no advantage beckons he makes no effort. If he is not intimidated he does not improve himself, but if he is made to behave correctly in small matters he is careful in large ones. This is fortunate for the inferior man.”
On the subject of the nine at the top Confucius says: “If good does not accumulate, it is not enough to make a name for a man. If evil does not accumulate, it is not strong enough to destroy a man. Therefore the inferior man thinks to himself, ‘Goodness in small things has no value, ‘ and so neglects it. He thinks, ‘Small sins do not harm,’ and so does not give them up. Thus his sins accumulate until they can no longer be covered up, and his guilt becomes so great that it can no longer be wiped out.”