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Hexagram 15 – Ch’ien Modesty 1

When John Beebe proposed that the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco publish The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, he consulted the I Ching and received Hexagram 15 “Modesty,” the hexagram that John said was “the most positive hexagram in the book!” The essence of the commentary about the hexagram is balance. About the image, the text says,

Within the earth, a mountain:
The image of MODESTY.
Thus the superior man reduces that which is too much,
And augments that which is too little.
He weighs things and makes them equal.
(Wilhelm, 1950, 463)

The correction of reducing the too-muchness and augmenting the too-littleness also resonates for me with Jung’s concept of the transcendent function:

If we can successfully develop that function which I have called transcendent, the disharmony ceases . . . The unconscious then gives us all the encouragement and help that a bountiful nature can shower upon man . . . for it has at its disposal all subliminal psychic contents, all those things which have been forgotten or overlooked, as well as the wisdom and experience of uncounted centuries which are laid down in its archetypal organs. (1943/1969, CW 7, ¶196)

Jung’s writing about the transcendent function illuminated one of the concepts of analytical psychology that has resonated most deeply for me. Years ago, when I facilitated the workshop that inspired the beginning of the ongoing editing group, I asked participants to choose their “favorite” Jungian concept as a topic for a short essay. Mine was the transcendent function. Working with it in my own psychic processes and with those of analysands, experiencing and witnessing the transformations, has proved to be nothing short of miraculous.

I have had some difficulty with the concept “tension of the opposites” and in my own mind have preferred to think about the tension generated by conflicting, disparate, or disharmonious vectors. To me “the opposites” reduces a conflict to a binary paradigm that may not always be useful or accurate and may invite a contrary alignment, or opposition, rather than a more complex multiplicity. Jung was so clear and so ahead of his time in his recognition of the non-unitary nature of the psyche, that holding tensions to include the multiplicity, not just those opposed to one another, would be, in my view, in line with Jung’s vision of the psyche. Along the same lines, Stacy Hassen contributes the image of Golden Opening and her amplifying text states that the image “intimates a map to an internal dimension beyond the duality of this world.” Jon Mills takes up a resonant theme in his thoughtful and detailed article, “Jung on Transcendence,” where he points out that others have taken up Jung’s notion of transcendence and the transcendent function, but few have considered his view of transcendence.

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