1. In the Changes it is said: "If a man is agitated in mind, and his thoughts go hither and thither, only those friends on whom he fixes his conscious thoughts will follow."
The Master said: What need has nature of thoughts and care? In nature all things return to their common source and are distributed along different paths; through one action, the fruits of a hundred thoughts are realized. What need nature of thought, of care?
2. When the sun goes, the moon comes; when the moon goes, the sun comes. Sun and moon alternate; thus light comes into existence. When cold goes, heat comes; when heat goes, cold comes. Cold and heat alternate, and thus the year completes itself. The past contracts. The future expands. Contraction and expansion act upon each other; hereby arises that which furthers.
3. The measuring worm draws itself together when it wants to stretch out. Dragons and snakes hibernate in order to preserve life. Thus the penetration of a germinal thought into the mind promotes the working of the mind. When this working furthers and brings peace to life, it elevates a man's nature.
4. Whatever goes beyond this indeed transcends all knowledge. When a man comprehends the divine and understands the transformations, he lifts his nature to the level of the miraculous.
In this explanation of the nine in the fourth place in hexagram 31, Hsien, INFLUENCE (bk. III), a theory of the power of the unconscious is given. Conscious influences are always merely limited ones, because they are brought about by intention. Nature knows no intentions; this is why everything in nature is so great. It is owing to the underlying unity of nature that all it's thousand ways lead to a goal so perfect that is seems to have been planned beforehand down to the last detail.
Then, in connection with the course of the day and the year, we are shown how past and future flow into each other, how contraction and expansion are the two movements through which the past prepares the future and the future unfolds the past.
In the two succeeding sections the same thought is applied to man who, through supreme concentration, so intensifies and strengthens his inner being that mysterious autonomous currents of power emanate from him: thus the effects he creates proceed from his unconscious and mysteriously affect the unconscious in others, attaining such breadth and depth of influence that they transcend the individual sphere and enter the realm of cosmic phenomena.
5.In the Changes it is said: If a man permits himself to be oppressed by stone, and leans on thorns and thistles. He enters his house and does not see his wife. Misfortune."
The Master said: If a man permits himself to be oppressed by something that ought not to oppress him, his name will certainly be disgraced. If he leans on things upon which one cannot lean, his life will certainly be endangered. For him who is in disgrace and danger, the hour of death draws near; how can he then still see his wife?
This is an example of an unfavorable pronouncement. Compare the explanation of the six in the third place in hexagram 47, K'un, OPPRESSION (bk. I).
6. In the Changes it is said: "The prince shoots at a hawk on a high wall. He kills it. Everything serves to further."
The Master said: The hawk is the object of the hunt; bow and arrow are the tools and means. The marksman is man (who must make proper use of the means to his end). The superior man contains the means in his own person. He bides his time and then acts. Why then should not everything go well? He acts and is free. Therefore all he has to do is to go forth, and he takes his quarry. This is how a man fares who acts after he has made ready the means.
This is an example of a favorable line. Compare the explanation of the six at the top in hexagram 40, Hsieh, DELIVERANCE (bk. I).
7. The Master said: 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. This is what is meant when it its said in the Book of Changes: "His feet are fastened in the stocks, so that his toes disappear. No blame."
Here we have an example of a line that leads to the good through remorse. Compare the explanation of the nine at the beginning in hexagram 21, Shih Ho, BITING THROUGH (bk. I).
8. 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 no 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. In the Book of Changes it is said: "His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue, so that his ears disappear. Misfortune."
This is an example of a line showing that misfortune follows hard upon humiliation. Compare the explanation of the nine at the top in hexagram 21, Shih Ho, BITING THROUGH (bk. I).
9. The Master said: Danger arises when a man feels secure in his position. Destruction threatens when a man seeks to preserve his worldly estate. Confusion develops when a man has put everything in order. Therefore the superior man does not forget danger in his security, nor ruin when he is well established, nor confusion when his affairs are in order. In this way he gains personal safety and is able to protect the empire. In the Book of Changes it is said: "'What if it should fail, what if it should fail?' In this way he ties it to a cluster of mulberry shoots."
This is an example of a line showing how one remains free of blame and thus attains success. See explanation of the nine in the fifth place in hexagram 12, P'i, STANDSTILL (bk. I).
10. The Master said: Weak character coupled with honored place, meager knowledge with large plans, limited powers with heavy responsibility, will seldom escape disaster. In the Changes it is said: "The legs of the ting are broken. The prince's meal is spilled and his person is soiled. Misfortune." This is said of someone not equal to his task.
This is an example of a line showing that one meets with misfortune through being inadequate to the situation. Compare the explanation of the nine in the fourth place in hexagram 50, Ting, THE CAULDRON (bk. I).
11. The Master said: To know the seeds, that is divine indeed. In his association with those above him, the superior man does not flatter. In his association with those beneath him, he is not arrogant. For he knows the seeds. The seeds are the first imperceptible beginning of movement, the first trace of good fortune (or misfortune) that shows itself. The superior man perceives the seeds and immediately takes action. He does not wait even a whole day. In the Book of Changes it is said: "Firm as a rock. Not a whole day. Perseverance brings good fortune."
Firm as a rock, what need of a whole day?
The judgment can be known.
The superior man knows what is hidden and what is evident.
He knows weakness, he knows strength as well.
Hence the myriads look up to him.
This is an example of a line showing that foreknowledge enables one to escape misfortune in good time. Compare the explanation of the six in the second place in hexagram 16, Yü, ENTHUSIASM (bk. I).
12. The Master said: Yen Hui is one who will surely attain it. If he has a fault, he never fails to recognize it; having recognized it, he never commits the error a second time. In the Changes it is said: "Return from a short distance. No need for remorse. Great good fortune."
This is an example of a line showing that one can learn from experience. Yen Hui was a favorite disciple of Confucius. It is said in the Analects too that he never committed the same error twice. See the explanation of the nine at the beginning in hexagram 24, Fu, RETURN (bk. III).
13. The Master said: Heaven and earth come together, and all things take shape and find form. Male and female mix their seed, and all creatures take shape and are born. In the Changes it is said: "When three people journey together, their number decreases by one. When one man journeys alone, he finds a companion."
This is an example of a line that is favorable by reason of unity. Compare the explanation of the six in the third place in hexagram 41, Sun, DECREASE (bk. III).
14. The Master said: The superior man sets his person at rest before he moves; he composes his mind before he speaks; he makes his relations firm before he asks for something. By attending to these three matters, the superior man gains complete security. But if a man is brusque in his movements, others will not co-operate. If he is agitated in his words, they awaken no echo in others. If he asks for something without having first established relations, it will not be given to him. If no one is with him, those who would harm him draw near. In the Changes it is said: "He brings increase to no one. Indeed, someone even strikes him. He does not keep his heart constantly steady. Misfortune."
This is an example of a line showing that everything depends on proper preparation. Compare the explanation of the nine at the top in hexagram 42, I, INCREASE (bk. I).