50. Holding (dǐng). The Cauldron
Burning the old in the name of holy sacrifice, they acquire new - the fire leads to creation. But, throwing into the fire for fun, they risk losing and burning everything.
Inital text of I Ching
The Caldron. Supreme good fortune. Success.
Fire over wood:
The image of the Caldron. Thus the superior man consolidates his fate by making his position correct.
- A ting with legs upturned. Furthers removal of stagnating stuff. One takes a concubine for the sake of her son. No blame.
- There is food in the ting. My comrades are envious, but they cannot harm me. Good fortune.
- The handle of the ting is altered. One is impeded in his way of life. The fat of the pheasant is not eaten. Once rain falls, remorse is spent. Good fortune comes in the end.
- The legs of the ting are broken. The prince's meal is spilled and his person is soiled. Misfortune.
- The ting has yellow handles, golden carrying rings. Perseverance furthers.
- The ting has rings of jade. Great good fortune. Nothing that would not act to further.
The direction is correct.The main work is done inside: knowledge turns into understanding, wisdom grows, and talents develop of abilities. For the sake of acquiring new forget old - the victim will not be vain. But do not sacrifice for the sake of self-interest - it does not bring goodness. Things are going well. But do not forget to share with others the fruits of your labor. If you have an illness, wait for recovery.
The six lines construct the image of Ting, THE CALDRON; at the bottom are
the legs, over them the belly, then come the ears (handles), and at the top the
carrying rings. At the same time, the image suggests the idea of nourishment.
The ting, cast of bronze, was the vessel that held the cooked viands in the
temple of the ancestors and at banquets. The heads of the family served the
food from the ting into the bowls of the guests.
THE WELL (48) likewise has the secondary meaning of giving nourishment,
but rather more in relation to the people. The ting, as a utensil pertaining to
a refined civilization, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men,
which redounded to the benefit of the state.
This hexagram and THE WELL are the only two in the Book of Changes that
represent concrete, men-made objects. Yet here too the thought has its
Sun, below, is wood and wind; Li, above, is flame. Thus together they stand
for the flame kindled by wood and wind, which likewise suggests the idea of
While THE WELL relates to the social foundation of our life, and this
foundation is likened to the water that serves to nourish growing wood, the
present hexagram refers to the cultural superstructure of society. Here it is
the wood that serves as nourishment for the flame, the spirit. All that is
visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible.
Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the
Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting
serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be
sacrificed to the divine. But the truly divine does not manifest itself apart
from man. The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy
men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as
revealed through them, should be accepted in humility; this brings inner
enlightenment and true understanding of the world, and this leads to great
good fortune and success.
The fate of fire depends on wood; as long as there is wood below, the fire
burns above. It is the same in human life; there is in man likewise a fate that
lends power to his life. And if he succeeds in assigning the right place to life
and to fate, thus bringing the two into harmony, he puts his fate on a firm
footing. These words contain hints about fostering of life as handed on by
oral tradition in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.
If a ting is turned upside down before being used, no harm is done-on the
contrary, this clears it of refuse. A concubine's position is lowly, but because
she has a son she comes to be honored.
These two metaphors express the idea that in a highly developed
civilization, such as that indicated by this hexagram, every person of good
will can in some way or other succeed. No matter how lowly he may be,
provided he is ready to purify himself, he is accepted. He attains a station in
which he can prove himself fruitful in accomplishment, and as a result he
In a period of advanced culture, it is of the greatest importance that one
should achieve something significant. If a man concentrates on such real
undertakings, he may indeed experience envy and disfavor, but that is not
dangerous. The more he limits himself to his actual achievements, the less
harm the envious inflict on him.
The handle is the means for lifting up the ting. If the handle is altered, the
ting cannot be lifted up and used, and, sad to say, the delicious food in it, such
as pheasant fat, cannot be eaten by anyone.
This describes a man who, in a highly evolved civilization, finds himself in
a place where no one notices or recognizes him. This is a severe block to his
effectiveness. All of his good qualities and gifts of mind thus needlessly go to
waste. But if he will only see to it that he is possessed of something truly
spiritual, the time is bound to come, sooner or later, when the difficulties will
be resolved and all will go well. The fall of rain symbolizes here, as in other
instances, release of tension.
A man has a difficult and responsible task to which he is not adequate.
Moreover, he does not devote himself to it with all his strength but goes
about with inferior people; therefore the execution of the work fails. In this
way he also incurs personal opprobrium.
Confucius says about this line:
"Weak character coupled with honored
place, meager knowledge with large plans, limited powers with heavy
responsibility, will seldom escape disaster."
Here we have, in a ruling position, a man who is approachable and modest in
nature. As a result of this attitude he succeeds in finding strong and able
helpers who complement and aid him in his work. Having achieved this
attitude, which requires constant self-abnegation, it is important for him to
hold to it and not to let himself be led astray.
In the preceding line the carrying rings are described as golden, to denote their
strength; here they are said to be of jade. Jade is notable for its combination of
hardness with soft luster. This counsel, in relation to the man who is open to
it, works greatly t his advantage. Here the counsel is described in relation to
the sage who imparts it. In imparting it, he will be mild and pure, like
precious jade. Thus the work finds favor in the eyes of the Deity, who
dispenses great good fortune, and becomes pleasing to men, wherefore all
Barbara Hejslip interpretation
This hexagram specifies that now there is all preconditions resolutely to incur a role of the leader to achieve positive results. There will be people who will envy your successes; do not pay attention to these people. Do not incur more, than can give, and do not promise it is more, than in a condition to execute. Strong influence on you and on your relations with associates the figure renders "three". Business to which you were accepted, together with two adherents, will lead you to success. Your desire will be executed, though and not absolutely how you initially conceived. Pay attention that you spend for entertainments and on a hobby too much.
Richard Wilhelm's commentary