27. I / Corners of the Mouth (Providing Nourishment)

This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are firm lines
of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through
which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment
itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the
three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and
care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.


Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people
should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment
in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to
observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he
cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man
fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men
through them. Mencius says about this:

If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe
what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has
superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure
important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the
superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts
of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior parts of his
nature is a superior man.


At the foot of the mountain, thunder:
Thus the superior man is careful of his words
And temperate in eating and drinking.

“God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing”: when in the spring the life
forces stir again, all things comes into being anew. “He brings to perfection in
the sign of Keeping Still”: thus in the early spring, when the seeds fall to
earth, all things are made ready. This is an image of providing nourishment
through movement and tranquillity. The superior man takes it as a pattern
for the nourishment and cultivation of his character. Words are a movement
going form within outward. Eating and drinking are movements from
without inward. Both kinds of movement can be modified by tranquillity.
For tranquillity keeps the words that come out of the mouth from exceeding
proper measure, and keeps the food that goes into the mouth from exceeding
its proper measure. Thus character is cultivated.


Nine at the beginning means:
You let your magic tortoise go,
And look at me with the corners of your mouth drooping.

The magic tortoise is a creature possessed of such supernatural powers that it
lives on air and needs no earthly nourishment. The image means that a man
fitted by nature and position to live freely and independently renounces this
self-reliance and instead looks with envy and discontent at others who are
outwardly in better circumstances. But such base envy only arouses derision
and contempt in those others. This has bad results.

Six in the second place means:
Turning to the summit for nourishment,
Deviating from the path
To seek nourishment from the hill.
Continuing to do this brings misfortune.

Normally a person either provides his own means of nourishment or is
supported in a proper way by those whose duty of privilege it is to provide for
him. If, owing to weakness of spirit, a man cannot support himself, a feeling
of uneasiness comes over him; this is because in shirking the proper way of
obtaining a living, he accepts support as a favor from those in higher place.
This is unworthy, for he is deviating from his true nature. Kept up
indefinitely, this course leads to misfortune.

Six in the third place means:
Turning away from nourishment.
Perseverance brings misfortune.
Do not act thus for ten years.
Nothing serves to further.

He who seeks nourishment that does not nourish reels from desire to
gratification and in gratification craves desire. Mad pursuit of pleasure for the
satisfaction of the senses never brings one to the goal. One should never (ten
years is a complete cycle of time) follow this path, for nothing good can come
of it.

Six in the fourth place means:
Turning to the summit
For provision of nourishment
Brings good fortune.
Spying about with sharp eyes
Like a tiger with insatiable craving.
No blame.

In contrast to the six in the second place, which refers to a man bent
exclusively on his own advantage, this line refers to one occupying a high
position and striving to let his light sine forth. To do this he needs helpers,
because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone. With the greed of a hungry tiger
he is on the lookout for the right people. Since he is not working for himself
but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.

Six in the fifth place means:
Turning away from the path.
To remain persevering brings good fortune.
One should not cross the great water.

A man may be conscious of a deficiency in himself. He should be
undertaking the nourishment of the people, but he has not the strength to do
it. Thus he must turn from his accustomed path and beg counsel and help
from a man who is spiritually his superior but undistinguished outwardly. If
he maintains this attitude of mind perseveringly, success and good fortune
are his. But he must remain aware of his dependence. He must not put his
own person forward nor attempt great labors, such as crossing the great water.

Nine at the top means:
The source of nourishment.
Awareness of danger brings good fortune.
It furthers one to cross the great water.

This describes a sage of the highest order, from whom emanate all influences
that provide nourishment for others. Such a position brings with it heavy
responsibility. If he remains conscious of this fact, he has good fortune and
may confidently undertake even great and difficult labors, such as crossing
the great water. These undertakings bring general happiness for him and for
all others.