Back to index 'Origins of characters'

Come  and go

COME like the wheat
 and GO like the king

          Two words occur often in the Yi. They are very common Chinese words: lai, come and wang, go. But their meaning is larger than just coming and going. Lai indicates what comes up, arrives, takes place. Wang means also past and to proceed from out the past, to go on in the given situation, to proceed.

          The picture of wang is king + foot. The little dot at the top was originally a foot, the radical 1) at the left for walking has been added later. Nobody is as much determined by the past as a king. Even before his birth he is usually already the future king. He has to carry on the dynasty, he has to behave as he is meant to, and he represents an old lineage.

wang

          Lai, to come, is a wheat-plant. I can imagine a farmer, looking at his field, looking at his future. Hoping the seeds will come up and grow into a healthy and strong crop, and doing everything possible to make that come true. Their growing is the condition for the survival of his family.

lai

          Small go, great come, like in hexagram 11, also means small investment, great interest. In a time of peace small efforts bring much profit. In hexagram 12 there is a time of stagnation: a big effort is needed for just a little bit of success.

In A. Huang "The complete I Ching", p.380, I found another use of coming and going. A line moving upward is said to "go", one moving downward is said to "come". Two lines that correspond to each other, like a yin line 2 and a yang line 5, move towards each other, so 2 'goes' and 5 'comes'. Line 2 proceeds on its path, 5 is aimed to the future.

     In hexagram 39, Obstruction, the use of coming and going is very revealing. The Chinese character ‘obstruction’ is a picture of a man hiding in a cabin in a pile of straw, with cold feet. Anybody who ever had a depression will recognize this. It is exactly what you want to do then.

In 3 lines it says: ‘to go, obstruction – to come, praise (or return, union, good fortune). Obviously coming is the solution. Especially in the situation indicated by hex.39 it is important to look ahead and not to look back. So do not look anymore to the past, even if this past is only minutes away. But live only now and towards the future.

This is the solution for any sense of inferiority. It has always to do with failure, but without past all failures are swept out of your life. You start every minute with a new clean life. 

   When all the lines who have coming and going are changing, then you get hexagram 25, Innocence. Indeed a state of bliss after feeling low and a failure. It is being entirely free of prejudice, towards others, but also towards yourself.

  1) A radical is a part of a character that usually specifies it, and in a dictionary characters are ordered under their radical.
The character wang can be found in the Far-East dictionary nr.1462, Mathews’ nr.7050 and GSR.nr.739g
Lai in Far-East nr.149, Mathews’ nr.3768 and GSR nr.944  

To Hexagram 39

Back to index 'Origins of characters'