Name and Structure
Jian means gradual, developing gradually, or progressing step by step. Wilhelm translates Jian as Development (Gradual Progress). Blofeld also translates it as Gradual Progress. here I adopt the term Developing Gradually. The ideograph of Jian consists of three parts. Jian was the name of a river whose fountainhead lay in the mountains in central China at a place called Dan-yang in the kingdom of Zhou. The Jian river crossed the vast area of central China and gradually became vast itself as it flowed east to the ocean. the ancients chose this river as a symbol of gradual development. The left part of the ideograph is the sign for water, which looks like the primary gua Water turnee vertically. the central and the right images put together provide the sound of the character Jian.
Sequence of the Gua
Events cannot continue in stillness without moving.
Thus, after Keeping Still, Developing Gradually follows.
The structure of the gua is Wood above, Mountain below. It denotes a tree that is growing gradually to its height on a mountain. When the trunk of a tree grows upward above the ground, its roots develop deep underneath the earth. The progress of upward and downward growth are in positive proportion. In this way, the tree remains strong, firm, and stable. This is the wisdom of nature. Weeds grow fast; they are neither strong not stable.
In the text of the gua the analogy of a marrying maiden describes a gradual process of development. In ancient China, before the wedding of a couple there was a process of several ceremonies. First, there should be a proposal. After an agreement was reached, both presented betrothal gifts to each other, and then a ceremony of engagement was performed. These ceremonies proceeded gradually. In this gua, from the second line to the fifth line, every line is correct in its placement. It symbolizes the pureness and correctness of the maiden’s virtue. there is good fortune. In the Yao Text, the landing of a swan at different places is used to demonstrate the process of gradual development.
The maiden is given in marriage.
Favorable to be steadfast and upright.
Commentary on the Decision
Good fortune to the maiden given in marriage.
Progressing will make the place proper;
Going forward, there is merit.
Advancing in what is correct,
One is able to rectify his country.
About his place,
It is firm and central.
Keeping still with gentleness,
This makes the forward movement without ending.
Commentary on the Symbol
On the mountain, there are trees.
It is an image of Developing Gradually.
In correspondence with this,
The superior person lives a life of virtue
And improves the morals and mores of his people.
Yao Text – Initial Six
The swan approaches the shore.
Little fellow: adversity.
There is gossip; no fault.
The adversity of the little fellow.
He should not be at fault.
This gua indicates that after a period of keeping still there is opportunity to advance. In advancing, one should move gradually. Here the image of the growth of a tree is used to expound the truth of development. Any kind of development should proceed in an orderly way and advance step by step. the ancient sages took the idea of the marriage of a young maiden as an example. She is going to marry, but she has to wait until the appropriate time arrives. True love, mutual understanding , and a harmonious relationship takes time to cultivate. They develop gradually and steadily step by step. So the Decision says, “Good fortune. Favorable to be steadfast and upright.” There are tow hosts inn the gua—the yielding line at the second place, the maiden, and the solid line at the fifth place, the prospective husband.
During King Wen’s sitting in stillness he considered the rise of his kingdom. It grew up and developed gradually. He realized that he was appointed to a mission to manifest the will of Heaven, as a maiden is given to a husband. It was the will of Heaven asking him to remain faithful. The Duke of Zhou uses the image of a swan to show the orderly progress of the Kingdom of Zhou. When swans fly, they follow one another in order. they come and go according to the seasons. Likewise, the Kingdom of Zhou would move forward in proper sequence, as a swanfrom the water approaching the shore, the cliff, the plateau, the tree, thehill. Eventually it flies high in the sky, and its feathers that fall can bring a touch of the sacred to others.