Ideogram: earth + stretch-out or spirit
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Receptivity, compliance, obedience, female, feminine.
The character is composed of earth, either a heap of earth or an earth altar and shen, meaning ‘stretch-out’, spirit, ghost, explain, to state, express, power of expression or ‘lightning’.
In it’s oldest version shen is written more or less like a double spiral: a picture of lightning. In many old cultures the spiral was a symbol of the primordial waters, the potential of manifestation. The spiral is the rhythm of life, of birth and death, the expansion and contraction of yin and yang.
In the MaWangDui YiJing it is Chuan, stream. Hex.1 is in the Mawangdui Jian, key or bolt (of door). Their oldest meaning seems to derive from characterizations of the male and female genitalia, and thus they are probably ancestral to the more abstract meanings of the received names.
Kun: field, earth, space
"God causes all things to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive"
(Lynn: gives them maximum support in Kun).
"The Receptive means the earth. It takes care that all creatures are nourished. Therefore it is said: “He causes them to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive.”
Earth does even use death for nourishing new life, and thanks to her death as a final end does not exist.
"Heaven and earth determine the direction (Lynn: establish positions)."
Without Earth, Heaven's creativity dissipates without finding realization. Earth receives Heaven's sun and rain and huge electric power and carries and nourishes everything which comes into being through these powers.
"The Receptive is yielding (Lynn: submissiveness and pliancy."
Earth teaches us to persevere even when there is no goal visible, when nothing seems possible. She tells us that somewhere a solution is waiting, if we are open to it.
Even before we can see anything, if we have an accepting heart it will find us. Earth accepts and follows Heaven's time, so Heaven's time helps Earth.
"The Receptive acts in the cow."
Nurturing is the most important quality of Earth. She is yielding, submissive, nurturing and gentle as well as sturdy.
"The Receptive is the earth, therefore it is called the mother."
Earth is unlimited in her patience, for everything which needs to change, she waits until she can change it. Where nothing can live, even there she finds ways to make a home for new creatures.
Inner and outer trigram
Earth "carries everything with great generosity".
When Earth is INNER (lower) trigram it brings an inner generosity to everything which is expressed through the outer trigram.
In 12 the powerful order of Heaven (The noble one holds back his virtue and avoids disaster. He does not allow honor by an official salary)
In 2 the generous space of Earth (The noble one carries everything with great generosity)
In 16 the energy of Thunder (The ancient kings composed music, honored virtue, with dancers worshipped the Lord on High. They associated with the deceased ancestors)
In 20 the influence of Wind. (The ancient kings inspected the whole country. They contemplated the people and set up education).
In 8 the reshaping power of Water (The ancient kings founded innumerable territories, maintaining close relations with the feudal lords)
In 35 the clarity of Fire (The noble one displays his bright character himself).
In 23 the individuality of Mountain (The high ones make their house peaceful by generosity to the low ones)
In 45 the reflection of Lake (The noble one puts weaponry out of sight and is alert for danger)
When Earth is OUTER (upper) trigram it turns the workings of the inner trigram into a tool to govern and nurture life.
In 11 the powerful order of Heaven (The ruler fashions and completes the Tao of Heaven and Earth. He supports mutually with Heaven and Earth their order. He stands by the commoners)
In 2 the generous space of Earth (The noble one carries everything with great generosity) In 24 the energy of Thunder (The first kings closed the frontiers at sun solstice, peddlers did not travel, the Hou did not inspect the region)
In 46 the influence of Wind (The noble one, with devoted character, accumulates small things to become tall and big)
In 7 the reshaping power of Water (The noble one tolerates the common people and watches over the crowds)
In 36 the clarity of Fire (The noble one governs the masses using darkness and also brightness)
In 15 the individuality of Mountain (The noble one reduces the many and augments the few. He evaluates things and bestows equalizing)
In 19 the reflection of Lake (The noble one teaches and ponders inexhaustibly, he tolerates and protects the people without limits)
discussion of the trigrams, ch.3. (Transl. Wilhelm-Baynes)
3. Heaven and earth determine the direction (Lynn: establish positions).
4. The Receptive brings about shelter.
5. God causes all things to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive (Lynn: gives them maximum support in Kun). The Receptive means the earth. It takes care that all creatures are nourished. Therefore it is said: “He causes them to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive.”
6. (Wilhelm: Only the action of the six derived trigrams is described here, in ch.6. It is the action of the spiritual, which is not a thing among things, but the force that manifests its existence through the various effects of thunder, wind, and so on. The two primary trigrams, the Creative and the Receptive, are not mentioned because, as heaven and earth, they actually are those emanations of the spirit within which, through the action of the derived forces, the visible world comes into being and changes. Each of these forces acts in a definite direction, but movement and change come about only because the forces acting as pairs of opposites, without canceling each other, set going the cyclic movement on which the life of the world depends)
7. The Receptive is yielding (Lynn: submissiveness and pliancy
8. The Receptive acts in the cow
9. The Receptive manifests itself in the belly
10. The Receptive is the earth, therefore it is called the mother.
11. The Receptive is the earth, the mother. It is cloth, a kettle, frugality, it is level, it is a cow with a calf, a large wagon, form, the multitude, a shaft. Among the various kinds of soil, it is the black.