蹇 Jiǎn Obstruction Hardship [hexagram 39]
Month 11 ; Host or Controlling line : 5
蹇: 利西南, 不利东北; 利见大人, 贞吉. Jiǎn: lì xī nán, bù lì dōng běi; lì jiàn dà ren, zhēn jí.
In (the state indicated by) Jian advantage will be found in the south-west, and the contrary in the north-east. It will be advantageous (also) to meet with the great man. (In these circumstances), with firmness and correctness, there will be good fortune.彖传: 蹇, 难也, 险在前也. 见险而能止, 知矣哉! 蹇利西南, 往得中也; 不利东北, 其道穷也. 利见大人, 往有功也. 当位贞吉, 以正邦也. 蹇之时用大矣哉! Tuàn zhuàn: Jiǎn, nán yě, xiǎn zài qián yě. Jiàn xiǎn ér néng zhǐ, zhī yǐ zāi! Jiǎn lì xī nán, wǎng dé zhòng yě; bù lì dōng běi, qí dào qióng yě. Lì jiàn dà ren, wǎng yǒu gōng yě. Dāng wèi zhēn jí, yǐ zhèng bāng yě. Jiǎn zhī shí yòng dà yǐ zāi!
Jian denotes difficulty. There is (the trigram expressive of) peril in front. When one, seeing the peril, can arrest his steps (in accordance with the significance of the lower trigram), is he not wise? (The language of) Jian, that 'advantage will be found in the south-west,' refers to the (strong fifth line) advanced and in the central place. That 'there will be no advantage in the north-east,' intimates that the way (of dealing with the Jian state) is exhausted. That 'it will be advantageous to see the great man,' intimates that advance will lead to achievement. That the places (of the different lines after the first) are those appropriate to them indicates firm correctness and good fortune, with which the regions (of the kingdom) are brought to their normal state. Great indeed is the work to be done in the time of Jian!象传: 山上有水, 蹇; 君子以反身修德. Xiàng zhuàn: Shān shàng yǒu shuǐ, jiǎn; jūn zǐ yǐ fǎn shēn xiū dé.
(The trigram representing) a mountain, and above it that for water, form Jian. The superior man, in accordance with this, turns round (and examines) himself, and cultivates his virtue.
From the first ‘six’, divided, we learn that advance (on the part of its subject) will lead to (greater) difficulties, while remaining stationary will afford ground for praise.象传: 往蹇来誉, 宜待也. Xiàng zhuàn: Wǎng jiǎn lái yù, yí dài yě.
‘Advancing will conduct to (greater) difficulties, while remaining stationary will afford ground for praise:’ - the proper course is to wait.
The second ‘six’, divided, shows the minister of the king struggling with difficulty on difficulty, and not with a view to his own advantage.象传: 王臣蹇蹇, 终无尤也. Xiàng zhuàn: Wáng chén jiǎn jiǎn, zhōng wú yóu yě.
‘The minister of the king struggles with difficulty on difficulty:’ - in the end no blame will be attached to him.
The third ‘nine’, undivided, shows its subject advancing, (but only) to (greater) difficulties. He remains stationary, and returns (to his former associates).象传: 往蹇来反, 内喜之也. Xiàng zhuàn: Wǎng jiǎn lái fǎn, nèi xǐ zhī yě.
‘He advances, (but only) to (greater) difficulty; he remains stationary, and returns to his former associates:’ - they, (represented in) the inner (trigram), rejoice in him.
The fourth ‘six’, divided, shows its subject advancing, (but only) to (greater) difficulties. He remains stationary, and unites (with the subject of the line above).象传: 往蹇来, 当位实也. Xiàng zhuàn: Wǎng jiǎn lái lián, dāng wèi shí yě.
‘To advance will (only be to) encounter (greater) difficulties; he remains stationary, and unites (with the subject of the line above):’ - that is in its proper place and has the solidity (due to it in that position).
The fifth ‘nine’, undivided, shows its subject struggling with the greatest difficulties, while friends are coming to help him.象传: 大蹇朋来, 以中节也. Xiàng zhuàn: Dà jiǎn péng lái, yǐ zhōng jié yě.
‘He struggles with the greatest difficulties, while friends are coming (to help him):’ - he is in the central position, and possesses the requisite virtue.
The topmost ‘six’, divided, shows its subject going forward, (only to increase) the difficulties, while his remaining stationary will be (productive of) great (merit). There will be good fortune, and it will be advantageous to meet with the great man.象传: 往蹇来硕, 志在内也. 利见大人, 以从贵也. Xiàng zhuàn: Wǎng jiǎn lái shuò, zhì zài nèi yě. lì jiàn dà ren, yǐ cóng guì yě.
‘To advance will (only) increase the difficulties, while his remaining stationary will (be productive of) great (merit):’ - his aim is to assist the (subject of the line) inside of him. ‘It will be advantageous to meet the great man:’ - by his course he follows that noble (lord of the figure).
Then the association of the gua to the annual cycle is shown - this is the Chinese lunar month number (not Western month). The controlling or host ‘yao’ is considered the most important line in the gua and is highlighted in the hexagram.
The main description for the hexagram is then followed by a section for each of the six possible changing lines which indicate the transformation into another, related gua. The text uses ‘nine’ to refer to a yang line and ‘six’ for a yin line. The pure yin and yang hexagrams have, however, a different text structure as they are so important.