...life can be translucent

The old ‘resulting hexagram’ conundrum

I recently had an email from ‘M’, who’s baffled by a recent reading. M’s particular question was a little unusual, asking what he himself is really looking for in a given situation, but the basic problem he’s having is familiar:

“Essentially, I am confused as how to interpret the original hexagram, changing lines and subsequent resulting hexagram as the two hexagrams seem contradictory.”

The first hexagram looks like something he might want; the second doesn’t. So…

“Is it possible that currently, I want what the first hexagram describes but will inevitably evolve through the changing lines to desire what the resulting hexagram describes or is the oracle suggesting that I may avoid wanting the second hexagram by correcting my path before the 6 at the top changes?”

This is something I have ranted written about before – the splendid nonsense that’s created when we try to string hexagrams and lines out along a timeline, where the primary hexagram and its lines  always cause the relating hexagram. If we just stop doing that, and instead read what we cast – just one six-line figure, one unit of meaning, that can contain the meeting of two hexagrams – then the nonsense evaporates.

Here’s a step-by-step way of approaching this. (In practice, naturally, it’s not so formulaic – but I think this is a decent starting point.)

Look at the two hexagrams together

– and imagine ways they might fit together to make a single answer to your question.

This is an exploratory, speculative stage, looking at possible relationships between the hexagrams. Those relationships are shaped by two major factors: the general nature of that primary hexagram-relating hexagram interaction, and the natural movement of the hexagrams themselves. ’46 changing to…’ can be ‘pushing upward through’, ’25 changing to’ can be ‘disentangling from…’, ’61 changing to…’ can be ‘experiencing the inner truth of…’, and so on.

(24 changing to 23 feels like a special case, since the hexagrams work together as a pair, and each already implies the other. I imagine M might be looking for Return amidst Stripping Away.)

The overall nature and shape of that interaction between the hexagrams within a reading is a beautifully complicated and elusive thing. A simple phrase I like to start with in many readings is ‘the [relating hexagram] of [primary hexagram]’ – relating hexagram as an aspect of/ perspective on the primary. 34 (Great Vigour) .1.2 to 62 (Small Excess) – might be the experience of applying Great Vigour and having it set in proportion, reduced to size. 38 (Opposing).2 to 21 (Biting Through): how otherness meets, comes together incisively, creating a working unit. 33 (Retreat).1.3 to 25 (Without Entanglement): the disengaging part of retreating, where you recognise what is and isn’t yours.

Expect to find each hexagram present now

Part of M’s difficulty, I think, was that he’d relegated Hexagram 23 to the future – whether possible or inevitable – which made it fantastically hard to imagine or relate to. Usually, both hexagrams are present and recognisable – and the relating hexagram especially, as the more personal, subjective one. M surely doesn’t want 23 – that experience of loss, of the futility of purposeful action, of having things torn away from you… – but he mentioned that he’s changing his life to care for his mother, who’s seriously ill. So Hexagram 23 appeared as the emotional landscape, the backdrop to all his experience: it’s something he accepts, while Return is something he aspires to.

Then look to the moving lines…

…within this context. Seeing the reading as a single unit, you’re looking at the primary hexagram with the relating hexagram ‘shining through’ it, moving lines lighting up as if a current flowed at the points of difference between them. So the line texts are a portrait of the interaction of the two hexagrams – and as simple or as confusing as any human situation…




12 responses to The old ‘resulting hexagram’ conundrum

  1. That was my starting point for that rant I mentioned – how some people don’t use it at all.

    To each their own. For myself, I have two practical reasons to take notice of it:
    1) It’s often the easiest part of a reading to recognise. That’s always good, but especially when reading for others.
    2) If I don’t take notice of it, it tends to show up again until I do – sometimes as an unchanging response to a follow-up question. I think this is a hint I should take.

  2. Many of us tend to get caught up way, WAY to much in the rules. When there are multiple changing lines there ARE no rules, only intuition.

    So of course, true to my nature, the very next thing I post is a bunch of rules. And since there are no rules, only try to follow the rules when the rules make sense, because multiple changing lines can mean anything.

    I think there are situations where the changing lines can reflect a timeline, but I would not get too caught up in that. First of all, the question has to be taken into account. If the reading is regarding a relationship, and there are two changing lines, determine if one line is yin and one yang. Then relate that to the situation and see if it makes sense. Next, see if the lines are next to each other, or if they correspond with each other, or if they are harmonic or not. If there are three changing lines determine if one could be a third party that influences the relationship, or if that third party is actually the real lover. Determine if one is closer and one farther away.

    A similar story goes into business readings. See if the lines are both yin or both yang, or mixed. Determine if one is in a ruling position. Determine if they are close or obstructed. Determine if the non changing lines are in between and causing disruption to the parties. If three lines change, determine if one changing line is obstructing the other two. Determine if there is harmony or disharmony between the lines. And so on and so forth.

    Also remember, when three lines change, the middle line usually takes greater significance. And…to make things even more complicated, determine if one line changes only to change the resulting hexagram.

    Something similar applies when four lines change. Determine if there are multiple people or situations involved. Another rule of thumb is that when four lines change, the upper non moving line can become the most significant. If multiple lines are changing, the resulting hexagram takes on much more significance. I will relate this to M’s reading in a moment.

    If five lines are changing, there could be a lot of people involved in the situation, or there could be multiple facets to the situation, that one needs to deal with. But the other, and most likely situation is that we need to look at the non changing line. Why does the I Ching not just make the one non changing line the only changing line? Because the resulting hexagram would be different. Therefore it is very important to read the resulting hexagram.

    In M’s case, it is probably best that we look at the top line of the two non changing lines. I do not know the question asked, but I get a feel for something here. The sixth line says, “missing the return.” If we do not take care of business at the opportune time, and it becomes too late, the results can be disastrous, and everything that has meaning to us is “stripped away.” Why do the other four lines change? To get us to the important issue of the reading; the consequences of not taking care of the matter in a timely basis. I am sure there is more to this, and depending on the question this might not have been the right answer in these specifics. But it certainly is a plausible answer.


  3. I didn’t realize I was going to come up as anonymous. I will try to remember to set it up right in the future. The previous post was mine.


  4. I made a mistake in terms of the changing lines here, though a non significant one. If 24 changes to 23 then five lines are changing not just four. I did not take into account the changing of the first line, so the only non changing line is the sixth. The rule here is the same. We look at the sixth line, and the same interpretation applies.


  5. Oops, this is getting embarrassing. Yes, only lines one and six change. I have got to start looking and not just going by memory. Here though, the same thing applies as with one yin line and one yang, the yang generally applies. If the question were about relationships though, I might look at it as two people who are in some way very far apart; either physically, or emotionally, or intellectually. Or as one who wants to go one direction and one another; once again, all depending on the context.


  6. Err, I mean, the yin usually applies. The sixth line is yin. Maybe I better go to bed and try again tomorrow.


  7. Hi Hilary, Good topic! I like “looking at the two hexagrams together”. And although the phrase making does not personally help me, I see how it could be a start to understanding the two complex ideas juxtaposed together.

    How I have been seeing Yijing’s answers is by trying to honor all of the parts equally, and with a multi-dimensional view. All of it’s pieces create the multidimensional arena that the answer is playing in. Yet each hexagram and line separately have their own arena that can be understood alone.

    To view them all together, I picture each hexagram’s arena by itself to get a better grip on what each represents, and then I view the lines as roads that connect the two arenas, they show me the specifics of how the two arenas interact, the energy between, and how they can come to eventually overlap in my mind.

    I have also seen this process as both hexagrams being woven together, with the lines as the strings that connect them.
    …..I see all of this in my head so clear, yet I am not sure this “arena” or “string” analagy is cutting it.

    The whole conundrum does make me think about how time is an illusion, especially linear time. Reading the answer fits in that way of thinking for me. There is no first or second, no inital or resultant, it is all just multi-dimensionally floating and working together. <– that was the hippy version of my thoughts.

  8. I think the more analogies we have for hexagrams-and-lines, the better – not least hippy versions. I like your ‘strings’ – a bit like Karcher’s ‘loom of change’ with line pathways. Or how about ‘strings’ as in on a lute, sounding notes that create a particular set of resonances?

  9. I accept both hilary And Gene views.there arw so many rules to read changing lines and got confused.but I sometimes use Gene method.i think that is easy to see.

Leave a reply

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).