The Army / Shih

Hexagram: 07 Binary Sequence: 02 (000010)

  • Upper trigram: 7 (0) K'UN / The Receptive

  • Lower trigram: 2 (2) K'AN / The Abysmal

The Judgment: THE ARMY.
The army needs perseverance
And a strong man.
Good fortune without blame.

An Explanation of the Judgment An army is a mass that needs organization in order to become a fighting force. Without strict discipline, nothing can be accomplished, but this discipline must not be achieved by force. It requires a strong man who captures the hearts of the people and awakens their enthusiasm. In order that he may develop his abilities, he needs the complete confidence of his ruler, who must entrust him with full responsibility as long as the war lasts. But war is always a dangerous thing and brings with it destruction and devastation.Therefore it should not be resorted to rashly but, like a poisonous drug, should be used as a last recourse.

The 'IMAGE' of the hexagram In the middle of the earth is water: The image of THE ARMY. Thus the superior man increases his masses By generosity toward the people.

An Explanation of the 'IMAGE' Ground water is invisibly present within the earth. In the same way the military power of a people is invisibly present in the masses. When danger threatens, every peasant becomes present in the masses. When danger threatens,every peasant becomes a soldier; when the war ends, he goes back to his plow.He who is generous toward the people wins their love, and a people living under a mild rule becomes strong and powerful. Only a people economically strong can be important in military power. Such power must therefore be cultivated by improving the economic condition of the people and by human egovernment. Only when there is this invisible bond between government and people, so that the people are sheltered by their government as groundwater is sheltered by the earth, is it possible to wage a victorious war.


The Six Lines


Six at the beginning means:

An army must set forth in proper order.
If the order is not good, misfortune threatens.

Commentary on the line At the beginning of a military enterprise, order is imperative. A just and valid cause must exist, and the obedience and coordination of the troops must be well organized, otherwise the result is inevitably failure.

Nine in the second place means:

In the midst of the army,
Good fortune,
No blame,
The king bestows a triple decoration.

Commentary on the line The leader should be in the midst of his army, in touch with it, sharing good and bad with the masses he leads. This alone makes him equal to the heavy demands made upon him. He needs also the recognition of the ruler. The decorations he receives are justified, because there is no question of personal preferment here: the whole army, whose center he is, is honored in his person.

Six in the third place means:

Perchance the army carries corpses in the wagon.
Misfortune.

Commentary on the line Here we have a choice of two explanations. One points to defeat because someone other than the chosen leader interferes with the command; the other is similar in its general meaning, but the expression, "carries corpses in the wagon," is interpreted differently. At burials and at sacrifices to the dead it was customary in China for the deceased to whom the sacrifice was made to be represented by a boy of the family, who sat in the dead man's place and was honored as his representative. On the basis of this custom the text is interpreted as meaning that a "corpse boy" is sitting in the wagon, or, in other words, that authority is not being exercised by the proper leaders but has been usurped by others. Perhaps the whole difficulty clears up if it is inferred that there has been an error in copying. The character fan, meaning"all," may have been misread as shih, which means "corpse." Allowing for this error, the meaning would be that if the multitude assumes leadership of the army (rides in the wagon), misfortune will ensue.

Six in the fourth place means:

The army retreats.
No blame.

Commentary on the line In the face of a superior enemy, with whom it would be hopeless to engage in battle, an orderly retreat is the only correct procedure, because it will save the army from defeat and disintegration. It is by no means a sign of courage or strength to insist upon engaging in a hopeless struggle regardless of circumstances.

Six in the fifth place means:

There is game in the field.
It furthers one to catch it.
Without blame.
Let the eldest lead the army.
The younger transports corpses;
Then perseverance brings misfortune.

Commentary on the line Game is in the field--it has left its usual haunts in the forest and is devastating the fields. This points to an enemy invasion. Energetic combat and punishment are here thoroughly justified, but they must not degenerate into a wild melee in which everyone fends for himself. Despite the greatest degree of perseverance and bravery, this would lead to misfortune. The army must be directed by an experienced leader. It is a matter of waging war, not of permitting the mob to slaughter all who fall into their hands; if they do,defeat will be the result, and despite all perseverance there is danger of misfortune.

Six at the top means:

The great prince issues commands,
Founds states, vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.

Commentary on the line The war has ended successfully, victory is won, and the king divided estates and fiefs among his faithful vassals. But it is important that inferior people should not come into power. If they have helped, let them be paid off with money, but they should not be awarded lands or the privileges of rulers, lest power be abused.

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