Hexagram #34 Great Power

Great power is beneficial when correct.

Great power means yang energy is strong and vigorous. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Thunder, active, below is Heaven, 
strong. Strong within, effective in action, strong action does not cease- therefore it is called great power.

However, the path of great power calls for power to be correct; if it is not correct, power is not great and its application is not beneficial. The people in the world who follow deviated paths, whether they cling to voidness or stick to forms, taking the artificial to be real. and do not fear danger and trouble, sometimes never changing all their lives, are indeed powerful. But their power is not correct — not only is their vigor unable to be great, but they even harm life by power. Then what is the value of power?

So the path of great power is only beneficial when it is correct. Correct means correctly oriented, reasonably ordered. Orderly power means one has inner autonomy and self-control, and the will is upright and correctly oriented, while outwardly one does not act arbitrarily and so one's conduct is upright. When the will is correct one is firm and strong and irrepressible; unmoved by myriad things one is inwardly vigorous and powerful. When action is correct, it is effective and decisive; able to accomplish tasks, one is outwardly vigorous and powerful. Will makes action firm, action makes will complete. Cultivating the inner and the outer at once, even those without power can become powerful, and the powerful can become great. There is no limit to the benefits of power applied correctly.

2nd yang line: Rectitude is auspicious.

EXPLANATION: Governing the inward with firmness, responding to the external with flexibility, outwardly lacking yet inwardly having more than enough, being powerful without being rambunctious, power is in balance; when it is balanced it is right, when it is right it leads to good results. This is power with strict self-mastery.

Top yin line: The ram running into a fence cannot retreat, cannot go ahead; there is no benefit. Struggle will produce good results.

EXPLANATION: If one is ignorant and acts arbitrarily, indulges in guesswork and goes off on tangents; a lifetime of studies will after all be useless. This is like a ram having run into a fence, unable to retreat or go ahead. At the culmination of action, disaster has already developed, so it is impossible to pull out of it; at the end of an affair, it is too late for regret — how can one go on to success? Unable to withdraw, unsuccessful in going ahead, one's whole life is wasted — what benefit is there? So for people who are weak and lack capability, rather than apply power by themselves and get hurt in the process, it is better to quickly empty the mind and seek a teacher. Studying when stumped, exerting effort to practice what is learned, working intensely while struggling through difficulty, not worrying about not reaching the realm of great power — this is originally not being powerful yet becoming powerful through resort to what is right.

In each of the six lines there is a path of power, but they are not the same in terms of good and bad effects. Power within, able to correct the self, is only represented by yang in the second place. Power outwardly, able to correct others, is only represented by yang in the fourth place. So practitioners of the Tao, when they have not yet comprehended the Tao, should first rectify themselves; once they have comprehended the Tao, they should rectify others as well. Correcting oneself is practice of the Tao; correcting others is establishment of virtue. Practicing the Tao, establishing virtue — only this is correctness of power, greatness of power. The benefit in correctness of great power requires perfection of virtue by the Tao as its ultimate achievement.

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Hexagram #34 Great Power

Christ, standing on a snake and a lion, showing correct power. (5th c. Archiepiscopal Church, Ravenna, Italy )

The King of Light Agyo, representing the beginning of great power in the firing procss. (Todaji temple, Nara 13th C. AD, by the Kei school of sculptors)
(click to enlarge)

But to practice what is beneficial, it is important to have a beginning and a conclusion. If there is a beginning but no conclusion, one's acts are still of no benefit — there is no gain, but loss. Liu Yiming (The Taoist I Ching, Hexagram #42 increase)

The King of Light Ungyo, representing the conclusion of great power in the firing procss. (Todaji temple, Nara 13th C.AD, by the Kei school of sculptors)
(click to enlarge)