Category Archives: 6. Sung (Conflict)

S’ung – Conflict


The upper trigram, whose image is heaven, has an upward movement; the lower trigram, water, in accordance with its nature, tends downward. Thus the two halves move away from each other, giving rise to the idea of conflict.The attribute of the Creative is strength, that of the Abysmal is danger, guile [strong man and woman of the creative are threading on the verge of the chasm, they should be watchful]. Where cunning has force before it, there is conflict.A third indication of conflict, in terms of character, is presented by the combination of deep cunning within and fixed determination outwardly [the net-weavers of illusions force a discordant way through]. A person of this character will certainly be quarrelsome [inward determination and understanding intricacies in such a way gives rise to tranquility and strength].


CONFLICT. You are sincereAnd are being obstructed.A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune [better stop without ambition, and sacrifice the impulse, or contain it and let it mature].Going through to the end brings misfortune.It furthers one to see the great man [when not amongst men, or not finding someone of parity to advise, but in solitude, the superior is a Deity, the mean is oracular, meditation, invocation, it requires intelligence and experience to discern and command oneself aright].It does not further one to cross the great water.

Conflict develops when one feels himself to be in the right and runs into opposition. If one is not convinced of being in the right, opposition leads to craftiness or high-handed encroachment but not to open conflict.If a man is entangled in a conflict, his only salvation lies in being so clear-headed and inwardly strong that he is always ready to come to terms by meeting the opponent halfway [in other words the movements of the opponent needs to be predicted before they happen, and we need to be prepared beforehand for eventualities]. To carry on the conflict to the bitter end has evil effects even when one is in the right, because the enmity is then perpetuated [like in argument, ‘proving someone right’ leads to open antagonism, people have their cherished beliefs which are the foundations of their livelihood, contradicting them, one provokes enmity, let us remember not be dragged into a conflict of arguments or belief-systems even when they encroach upon our own, otherwise we will lose our open-mindedness and sublimity and become coarse hardliners in the long-term, amongst civilized people, civilized conversation is possible, otherwise it is a waste of time]. It is important to see the great man, that is, an impartial man whose authority is great enough to terminate the conflict amicably or assure a just decision [the mediator which out of charismatic authority and status is capable of justly ending the conflict]. In times of strife, crossing the great water is to be avoided, that is, dangerous enterprises are not to be begun, because in order to be successful they require concerted unity of forces. Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.


Heaven and water go their opposite ways:

The image of CONFLICT.

Thus in all his transactions the superior manCarefully considers the beginning.The image indicates that the causes of conflict are latent in the opposing tendencies of the two trigrams. Once these opposing tendencies appear, conflict is inevitable. To avoid it, therefore, everything must be taken carefully into consideration in the very beginning. If rights and duties are exactly defined, or if, in a group, the spiritual trends of the individuals harmonize [if everything is in order, the conflict is resolved], the cause of conflict is removed in advance.



Six at the beginning means:If one does not perpetuate the affair,There is a little gossip.In the end, good fortune comes.While a conflict is in the incipient stage, the best thing to do is to drop the issue. Especially when the adversary is stronger, it is not advisable to risk pushing the conflict to a decision. It may come to a slight dispute, but in the end all goes well.

Nine in the second place means:

One cannot engage in conflict;One returns home, gives way.The people of his town,Three hundred households,Remain free of guilt.In a struggle with an enemy of superior strength, retreat is no disgrace. Timely withdrawal prevents bad consequences. If, out of a false sense of honor, a man allowed himself to be tempted into an unequal conflict, he would be drawing down disaster upon himself. In such a case a wise and conciliatory attitude benefits the whole community, which will then not be drawn into the conflict.Six in the third place means:To nourish oneself on ancient virtue induces perseverance.Danger. In the end, good fortune comes.If by chance you are in the service of a king,Seek not works.This is a warning of the danger that goes with an expansive disposition. Only that which has been honestly acquired through merit remains a permanent possession [omnia mea mecum porto, all acquired in honesty is your own, everything superficial comes and goes on its own]. It can happen that such a possession may be contested, but since it is really one’s own, one cannot be robbed of it. Whatever a man possesses through the strength of his own nature cannot be lost [it remains in his or hers nature]. If one enters the service of a superior, one can avoid conflict only by not seeking works for the sake of prestige. It is enough if the work is done: let the honor go to the other [one should let his or hers works be done, without vain expectations of self-gratification or rewards] .Nine in the fourth place means:One cannot engage in conflict.One turns back and submits to fate,Changes one’s attitude,And finds peace in perseverance.Good fortune.

This refers to a person whose inner attitude at first lacks peace. He does not feel content with his situation and would like to improve it through conflict. In contrast to the situation of the nine in the second place, he is dealing with a weaker opponent and might therefore succeed. But he cannot carry on the fight, because, since right is not on his side, he cannot justify the conflict to his conscience. Therefore he turns back and accepts his fate. He changes his mind and finds lasting peace in being at one with eternal law [self-correction, self-amendment, commanding oneself]. This brings good fortune.

Nine in the fifth place means:To contend before himBrings supreme good fortune.This refers to an arbiter in a conflict who is powerful and just, and strong enough to lend weight to the right side. A dispute can be turned over to him with confidence. If one is in the right, one attains great good fortune.Nine at the top means:Even if by chance a leather belt is bestowed on one,By the end of a morningIt will have been snatched away three times [that what is not permanent, but occassional should not be admonished].Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed. He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last. He is attacked again and again, and the result is conflict without end [bringing more misfortune and misery]