I-Ching 8比 Union – Relationship Building

8 比 Union – Intimate Relationship

Hexagram has a Water trigram on top and Earth trigram at the bottom. Water flows downward and is absorbed into the earth. It represents a close intimate relationship.

The Chinese word ‘比 bi’ is used as compared in the present time. But compare can be used to compare the differences, or compare to close the gap. In context, it is comparing to close the gap to have a closer relationship. In the old oracle writing, it is two persons walking close together to form the word.

Description :

  1. 比吉: Developing a close relationship and helping each other is good
  2. 原筮元永贞,无咎: follow righteousness from the beginning (to develop the relationship) has no disaster.
  3. 不宁方来,后夫凶:  come because of lacking peace,  there is a danger for the latecomers.

The textual commentary added “bi” is good. It means being supportive; following the leaders. Uprightness must be the foundation and must be sustained all the time. No blame. Must be strong in maintaining balanced(original: mid-way)  and justice. Should have followed the right way to come earlier but now is forced to come because of a lack of peace. The latecomers have danger because they have no other ways.

The pictorial commentary added that there is water on the earth is “bi”. King must follow this (i.e. like water watering the earth to support lives on earth) to build his kingdom. He must support and be close to his officers (literal: dukes).

Moral Teachings:

There are a few key teachings here:

  1. build a close relationship with each other, supporting and helping each other.
  2. righteousness: relationship building must be on the right moral development – integrity, righteousness, balanced, and justice. Getting together to do bad things are condemned in this hexagram.
  3. leading & submitting: there is a leader and a supporter in all relationships. The supporter helps the leader to make wise decisions and supports the leader in the execution. The leader must lead in the interest of his supporters. This is like a husband and wife relationship as well. A wife that does not help her husband to make good decisions and not be submissive to him will end up with a husband that has low self-esteem, is poor in decision-making, and lack confidence in executing his work. The saying that every successful man has a good supportive wife agrees with the teaching of I-Ching here.
  4. timing. Do this relationship-building as early as possible. Should be right from the start. Lateness in building relationships will be harmful because repairing a broken relationship is very very tough compared to starting on a neutral footing.

Stage 1 Begin Six: Having integrity and helpfulness to build intimate relationships will have no fault. If there be overflowing integrity and support, people will eventually flock to you. Good fortune.

Relationships can only be built upon the foundation of honesty and the keeping of promises. It takes time to build trust but given time, it will be built.

Stage 2 Second Six: the desire to build good relationships must come from within, the heart, and with truth and righteousness will bring forth good fortune/favors. The pictorial commentary adds “must take the initiative so that there is no loss”.

Relationship building is a long-term affair and must start from within the heart. It can’t be just putting up a show. A show will not last and it is easily detected. It cannot be just a public relations spin. It needs to be built on truth and righteousness. Relationship building cannot be passive. If the other side does not take the initiative, then we must do the approach first. The one who initiates also shows sincerity.

Stage 3 Third Six: Building a relationship with the wrong person(literal: thieves) is very sorrowful

This line teaches us to be selective with the people with who we build relationships. The relationship is built on trust and trusting another person causes us to be vulnerable to the other person. When our trust is betrayed, we are deeply hurt. Yet this extension of trust and vulnerability cannot be avoided for true relationships. A spouse committing adultery is very hurtful to the other party. Divorce is a very painful thing. Hence, before we start, please be watchful and careful in picking the right person.

Stage 4 Forth Six: Other people want to build a relationship with you and building it with uprightness and justice is good fortune. (alternatively, extending relationship building to external parties with integrity is good).

The pictorial commentary adds, “building external relationships with the wise and good men is to support our bosses” (literal: King; as stated earlier, the six lines represent stages, ages, as well as positions. 1- 士 scholar, nobleman, baron,   2-大夫 Earl & Count,  3-公 Marquis,  4-侯 duke, 5-天子King, 6-宗 庙 Ancestry lineage. This is line 4 supporting line 5 King).

When you are successful, other people, from the outside, will want to build relationships with you.  You must treat them with integrity.

Here we are encouraged to build relationships from within the company to those external. The purpose is not for ourselves but for our bosses and for our company.

Stage 5 Fifth Nine: The King is openly and fairly building good relationships. When he went for hunting and loses the animals, the people are in no fear. This is good fortune.

The pictorial commentary is: the reason that open relationship building is good is that its position is right at the center and there is no favoritism. Reject bad and wrong practices and adopt good practices that flow with the ways of heaven. Losing the catch and yet the people are not afraid is showing the fairness and justice of the king. (note: the king accepts that losing the catch despite his careful planning and execution is the will of heaven and blame not on his people)

In the previous postings, I put emphasis on the growth from stage to stage in terms of time. Growth also comes in promotion. Often, time and promotion go together. The lines also provide teaching for those in the corresponding positions. Here, line 5 is the King or CEO/Chairman position. How should a leader behave? In the same way of building relationships with openness, and fairness, and has not any favorites. Because his relationship with his staff is good, the staff are not in a panic when he fails sometimes. They know he will be fair and will not blame them and punish them for failures due to his own error or beyond their control.

Stage 6 Top Six: There is no good relationship with the top. This is dangerous. The pictorial commentary further adds “there is no good ending!”

Relationship building must take place with those within (our fellow colleagues, or members of our family), those without (our suppliers,  customers, friends), those below us (our staff, children), and those above us (our bosses, our mentors, people of influence). Maybe I should add a ‘center’ direction, with yourself. Accept yourself, your strength and weaknesses, and complement your weaknesses with the strengths of others and with your strengths covering others’ weaknesses. This is key to relationship building. As always, in I-Ching, helping means helping others to do better in righteous character building.

Additional Lessons:


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