Hexagram #34 Great Power

Great power is beneficial when correct.

EXPLANATION: Great power means yang energy is strong and vigorous. As for the qualities of the hexagram, above is Thunder ☳, active, below is the Creative ☰, strong. Strong within, effective in action, strong action does not cease — therefore it is called Great Power.

This hexagram represents advancement of the vigorous energy of yang; it follows on the previous hexagram constancy. Constancy is the achievement of perseverance in the path. Perseverance in the path means strong practice in the body, with the mind firm and stable and the will far-reaching, the one thought doesn`t return anymore, reaching deeply into self-realization; this is possible only for people of great power. People of great power have extraordinary direction in life; they observe all things with detachment, and may let them go or take them up. Having powerful will, they can carry out powerful affairs, do what others cannot do, be what others cannot be. Transcending the ordinary and entering into sagehood, they do what is rare in the world. Like a movement of thunder rising from earth to the sky, they startle the ignorant and amaze the worldly, shaking up all.

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 ten thousand 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.

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

On the left the Liushutong character and on the right the present shape of the character
for Hexagram #34 Great Power

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

Blessed is the man who consumes his lion, and cursed is the man who is consumed by
his lion. -- Gospel According to Thomas

The King of Light Ungyo, representing the conclusion of great power in the firing process. (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)