above: K'an / The Abysmal, Water
below: Chên / The Arousing, Thunder
THE NAME of the hexagram, Chun, really connotes a blade of grass pushing against an obstacle as it sprouts out of the earth - hence the meaning, "difficulty at the beginning."
The hexagram indicates the way in which heaven and earth bring forth individual beings. It is their first meeting, which is beset with difficulties. The lower trigram Chên is the Arousing (51); its motion is upward and its image is thunder. The upper trigram K'an stands for the Abysmal (29), the dangerous. Its motion is downward and its image is rain. The situation points to teeming, chaotic profusion; thunder and rain fill the air. But the chaos clears up. While the Abysmal sinks, the upward movement eventually passes beyond the danger. A thunderstorm brings release from tension, and all things breathe freely again.
Difficulty at the beginning works supreme success,
TIMES OF GROWTH are beset with difficulties. They resemble a first birth. But these difficulties arise from the very profusion of all that is struggling to attain form. Everything is in motion: therefore if one perseveres there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger. When it is a man's fate to undertake such new beginnings, everything is still unformed, dark. Hence he must hold back, because any premature move might bring disaster. Likewise, it is very important not to remain alone; in order to overcome the chaos he needs helpers. This is not to say, however, that he himself should look on passively at what is happening. He must lend his hand and participate with inspiration and guidance.
'A New Beginning' - Fractal artwork by Sven Geier, 2002
Clouds and thunder:
CLOUDS AND THUNDER are represented by definite decorative lines; this means that in the chaos of difficulty at the beginning, order is already implicit. So too the superior man has to arrange and organise the inchoate profusion of such times of beginning, just as one sorts out silk threads from a knotted tangle and binds them into skeins. In order to find one's place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite.