Hexagram #2 The Receptive

With the Receptive, creativity and development are achieved in the faithfulness of the female horse. The superior person has somewhere to go. Taking the lead, one goes astray; following, one finds the master. It is beneficial to gain companionship in the southwest and lose companionship in the northeast. Stability in rectitude is good.

EXPLANATION: The Receptive is submissive; it means flexible, receptive humility. In the body of the hexagram, all six lines are even; this represents pure yin, so it is called the Receptive. This hexagram represents convergence in yin, whereby the science of cultivating essence practices submission and receptivity and uses the path of flexibility.

Nothing is more submissive than earth. Earth is originally pure yin and cannot produce or develop things. The reason it does produce and develop myriad things is that it is receptive to the yang energy of heaven, producing and developing by progression and recession. This earth originally does not create or develop; its achievement of creativity and development lies in its capacity for faithfulness.

The receptivity of earth to heaven cannot be seen, but the receptivity of earth can be known by observing the submissiveness of a female horse. Female is a general term for the flexibility of yin; all things mundane are yin and belong to the north. A horse is something that travels strongly: when a mare follows a stallion, the mare can go wherever the stallion goes; so though it is gentle, it is also strong. The benefit of the faithfulness of the receptivity of earth is like the benefit of the faithfulness of the female horse.

When sages teach people to travel the path of submission, this starts from artificial submission and changes into true submission, returning to the pristine state, there is nothing one is not aware of, nothing one doesn't know, one follows the laws of God. Therefore the text says, The superior person has somewhere to go. Taking the lead, one goes astray; following, one finds the master. Firmness is the master of flexibility; firmness is able to govern flexibility, whereas flexibility cannot govern firmness ― it just follows the firm obediently.

Yielding obedience to strength is not only a matter of the incapable following the capable: Reforming error and returning to rectitude, changing wrong and taking to right, maintaining truth and getting rid of falsehood, is all a matter of the human mind submitting to the mind of Tao. This is all represented in terms of the flexible obeying the firm. Taking the lead, one goes astray means that when you act through the human mentality, the mind of Tao is buried away; following human desires, you damage the real by falsehood, losing the master by going astray. Following, one finds the master means that when you act through the mind of Tao, the human mind is peaceful and quiet, obedient to natural principle, extinguishing falsehood by reality, finding the master and not straying. If people can develop understanding from confusion, make yin follow yang, use the human mind to return to the mind of Tao, use the mind of Tao to govern the human mind, finding the master after they had previously lost it, even if they are stupid they will become illumined, and even if they are weak they will become strong.

In the path of submission nothing is greater than earth; for a symbol of receptivity, nothing is more obvious than the moon. The moon is basically pure yin, with no yang; it meets the sun in the spacious heights, travels to the southwest, the position of the Receptive ☷, and on the third day of the lunar month gives off a light like a wispy eyebrow, producing the yang spirit within the yin spirit — this is called gaining companionship. On the fifteenth day, the moonlight waxes full; on the sixteenth, the sunlight begins to shift away gradually, and the moonlight henceforth begins to wane, producing the yin spirit within the yang spirit. When it reaches northeast, the position of Mountain ☶, on the twenty-eighth day, the remaining light vanishes — this is called losing companionship. The moonlight appears in the southwest, yin follows the advance of yang; the moonlight disappears in the northeast, yin follows the receding of yang. When yang advances, the moon brightens; when yang recedes, the moon darkens. The brightening and darkening of the moon also follows the advance and withdrawal of the sun. If superior people practicing the Tao are able to be like the moon following the sun when they travel the path of flexibility by means of submission, then they know what gain and loss are, and they are effective in advancing as well as in withdrawing.

Students past and present have presumed on their intelligence, relying on their own views alone, engaging in arbitrary guesswork and personalistic interpretation, unwilling to humbly seek the aid of others. For this reason they grow old without attainment. Then again, there are those who seek out teachers and colleagues, but are unable to distinguish the false from the true, and get off into tangents and twisted byroads, never understanding all their lives. Also there are those who can distinguish false and true, who investigate and understand the principles of essence and life, and who proceed along the path, and yet give up along the way. Those who are not constant in rectitude are not using yin correctly; they cannot attain the Tao.

If you want to attain the Tao, you need to know how to submit to it and be receptive to it, and you must follow it correctly. It is also necessary to follow it correctly forever. If you are able to follow it correctly forever, there will be firmness in flexibility, unconcealed, unobscured, never changing till death. Shedding the conditioned temperament, you expose the original face of primordial obedience to the laws of God, without discriminating consciousness; both essence and life are perfected. So the path of eternal rectitude and flexible receptivity is consummated. -- Liu Yiming, Commentary on Hexagram #2 The Receptive

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Hexagram #2 Earth


This vase with holes symbolizes energy leaking through the five senses. As a result, the heart is not protected from mundane yin energy and therefore it cannot contain the Gold Elixir. (Toltec vase, Anthropology Musuem, Mexico City)

This incense burner with pikes symbolizes the heart protected from mundane yin energy. (Mexico, Colima, 1100-1500, Los Angelos Count museum)

(Click to enlarge)





A man following a bull, symbolizing yang following yin; the mind of Tao is buried away, and one follows human desires.
(Egyptian wall painting, 1280BC,
The tomb of Seti, Valley of the Kings)




Bodhisattva Manjusri seated on his lion.




Sun Wukong, symbolizing the mind of Tao, with the full moon.

When the full moon of contemplation
is reached, you will be pure.
-- Journey to the West Ch. 19




A Pharao, the mind ruler, and the god Amun, symbolizing the original spirit, face to face,
the temple of Karnak, Luxor, Egypt