...life can be translucent

I Ching with Clarity

For some 3,000 years, people have turned to the I Ching, the Book of Changes, to help them uncover the meaning of their experience, to bring their actions into harmony with their underlying purpose, and above all to build a foundation of confident awareness for their choices.

Down the millennia, as the I Ching tradition has grown richer and deeper, the things we consult about may have changed a little, but the moment of consultation is much the same. These are the times when you’re turning in circles, hemmed in and frustrated by all the things you can’t see or don’t understand. You can think it over (and over, and over); you can ‘journal’ it; you can gather opinions.

But how can you have confidence in choosing a way to go, if you can’t quite be sure of seeing where you are?

Only understand where you are now, and you rediscover your power to make changes. This is the heart of I Ching divination. Once you can truly see into the present moment, all its possibilities open out before you – and you are free to create your future.

What is the I Ching?

The I Ching (or Yijing) is an oracle book: it speaks to you. You can call on its help with any question you have: issues with relationships of all kinds, ways to attain your personal goals, the outcomes of different choices for a key decision. It grounds you in present reality, encourages you to grow, and nurtures your self-knowledge. When things aren’t working, it opens up a space for you to get ‘off the ride’, out of the rut, and choose your own direction. And above all, it’s a wide-open, free-flowing channel for truth.

For I Ching Beginners -

How do you want to get started?

There are two different ways most people first meet the I Ching. There’s,

‘I’m fascinated by this ancient book and I want to learn all about it,’

and there’s,

‘I need help now with this thing (so I’ll learn whatever I need to know to get help with The Thing).’

Learning about the I Ching, or learning from the I Ching?

In the end, these two ways aren’t actually different. It isn’t possible to do one without the other, and people end up wanting both: the ‘learn about Yi’ people draw on its help more as their knowledge grows; the ‘learn from Yi’ people find they want to know more, once they’ve got the help they need.

But... they are different at the beginning:

To learn the I Ching

It has all you need to get started from scratch. Then if you’re familiar with the basics and want to develop your confidence in interpretation, have a look at the Foundations Course.

To get the I Ching’s help

(There’s help at hand to explain how it works.)

If you’d like my help, have a look at the I Ching reading services.

Not a beginner?

Welcome - I’m glad you’ve come. Clarity’s here to help you deepen, explore and enjoy your relationship with Yi. You might like...

And so you can get to know some like-minded Yi-enthusiasts and we can keep in touch, do join Clarity


Hello, and thank you for visiting!

I’m Hilary - I work as an I Ching diviner and teacher, and I’m the author of I Ching: Walking your path, creating your future.

I hope you enjoy the site and find what you’re looking for here - do contact me with any comments or questions.

Clarity is my one-woman business providing I Ching courses, readings and community. (You can read more about me, and what I do, here.) It lets me spend my time doing the work I love, using my gifts to help you.

(Thank you.)

Warm wishes,


Creating peace through music


"What advice can be offered for more effectively providing meditative peace and healing through playing Shakuhachi flute music?"

Answer: Great Vigour in Flow.

changing to

A Yeeky thing I mentioned during this reading: the idea of a dabagua, or 'big trigram' hexagram. If you take the trigram dui, lake...

...and double each of its lines individually, in turn - from yang, yang, yin to yang+yang, yang+yang, yin+yin - then you have Hexagram 34:

In each hexagram formed this way - I mentioned this once before when I was writing about Hexagram 33 - it can help to think of it as a 'giant trigram' - and a giant lake seemed especially apt for a musician.

You can find Ron's music at https://www.bracalemusic.com.

Alberto Ramon, 'Conversations with the I Ching'

Alberto Ramon has been developing his approach to Yijing readings for many years now, and recently published a new book: Conversations with the I Ching. Its subtitle: 'An intuitive approach to understanding the answers, with 85 explained readings.' I'm finding it a worthwhile read.

What I like about this book

The Yi is big. It has plenty of areas to research, and abundant space for everyone who wants to develop their own ideas about it and turn them into books. In the midst of all this abundance, I really appreciate the way Alberto focuses in on what works in readings - specifically and in depth. There is nothing in this book at all about ancient China, or the problems of translation, or the structure of the hexagrams, or the Sequence. It's simply a way of understanding readings: something you can start using, testing out in your own readings, within an hour or so of picking up the book.

His method involves prioritising the reading as a whole: the framework created by the primary and relating hexagram. That's something I support wholeheartedly - and is not a new idea to anyone at Clarity, of course. But Alberto takes it further: this framework is not just something to consider as you read the text, but the theme, which is the most important feature of the whole reading. He would never consider fragments of text in isolation. From the very first page:

"A complete interpretation of the results from a reading should be a clear message, rather than a collection of texts. One good analogy would be a jigsaw puzzle: after all the pieces have been put together in a certain way, an image emerges. The individual pieces are still seen, but only as part of the image."

That quotation is a good example of another thing I like about this book: its complete clarity. You may not agree with everything he proposes - I certainly don't - but you will never be left wondering what he means, or how he arrived at his conclusions. Everything is unpacked for you step by step.

I also appreciate the fact that he does readings, and lots of them: he has developed his method by testing it out in practice. (The book's probably worth having just for its 85 worked examples.) And he gives good advice on fostering a healthy relationship with the oracle. For instance, if the answer you receive is negative - and by this he means you can't find anything in it that's applicable to your question - then it will reveal a new and larger perspective; there is no discarding of readings because they 'didn't work'.

He advises asking questions in simple terms that are open to all possible answers, and "should you arrive at more than one question, choose the one that puts you in charge of all your possibilities." And you should avoid asking too many questions about one issue, or treating the Yi as a "machine" for answers. All this is good.

Things I like less

In this method, the 'theme' of the reading, derived from the two hexagrams, is the basis of all interpretation. And the only basis for the theme is Alberto's own set of hexagram meanings, which occupies some 65 pages at the back of the book. He has carefully, systematically derived these meanings from his reading of the Wilhelm/Baynes (alone). Pick the most applicable meaning from his list for each hexagram, put the two together in a phrase, and you have your theme.

This relegates everything the oracle actually says or does (its words and structure) to a secondary position of only providing 'clues to be interpreted in relation to the big picture'. And that, in my experience, is just not how readings work. To grasp that 'big picture' at all, you need to read the words of your answer and get a feel for its structure. Developing your own sense of each hexagram is immensely useful, but always with the proviso that this should never get in the way of hearing what the hexagram says as if you had never received it before.

He writes,

"If there is any contradiction between the theme and any of the texts, the theme takes precedence, and the contradicting text can be regarded as a precautionary warning, a temporary situation, or a future event or possibility."

I'd say that if there is a contradiction between your preconceived ideas of the hexagrams' overall meaning and what the oracle is actually saying, then your ideas of the hexagrams' meanings need revisiting. Supplanting the oracle's imagery with abstractions is never a good idea. (A few weeks ago I was talking through Hexagram 45 with a Foundations Class graduate. 'The king's presence creates the temple' meant something for her that had never occurred to me before. This kind of thing happens to me all the time - and of course that's only possible because I keep on reading what Yi says.)

To be fair, he does advise reading the whole answer - and it is wise to read moving lines and their omens within the context of the hexagram that contains them. (Bradford Hatcher developed that principle into some remarkable interpretations.) But I think Alberto has his interpretive hierarchy exactly backwards here.

There are other niggles, of course. He limits himself to Wilhelm/Baynes, which naturally limits his sense of what hexagrams can mean, and also leaves him stuck in the habit of viewing the two hexagrams only as present and future. That leads to the familiar argument that if you don't want to end up at the second hexagram, you must read the cast hexagram as a way to avoid it; if you do, you must assume it's a way to obtain it. My logical mind revolts at this - and more to the point, so does my experience.

What intrigues me

However, I do plan to take my time over exploring his category of 'negative readings'. By this, he, confusingly, doesn't mean an answer with a negative omen, but rather one that amounts to a negative response to whatever you proposed. And any answer that contradicts your experience, or is not immediately and directly applicable to your situation, is a negative one. It reveals a disconnection between your idea and the reality, and will probably also be proposing a new perspective - or simply changing the subject.

The book has many examples of this. (Also many positive answers, of course, but those are more straightforward.) Here's just one:

He had found her through an online dating app, where they had exchanged all of two messages. He asked if this would evolve favourably and received Hexagram 11 with the 5th line changing to 5, Waiting. Following the book's method, Hexagram 11 means a perfect match (which this couldn't possibly be at this stage), Hexagram 5 means waiting, and so the marriage imagery in the fifth line must be about someone else, in future. And sure enough, there was never a third message.

One more:
'Should I pursue pottery as a profession?' 13.3 to 25. 13 means 'amateur' (this is one of the words in 13's list at the back of the book), 25 means 'without ulterior motive', and as neither hexagram has to do with career or professionalism, the answer is 'no'.

I think this is often going to boil down just to testing your reading against common sense - which is not a bad idea in itself. It does leave me wondering, though, how you would recognise a prediction that went against all common sense and probability. Your reading might paint a picture that bears no relation to your present reality, but what if it's a picture of the future? If your reading really were saying that this was love at first swipe, how would you know? Carefully focussed questions, and perhaps some follow-up readings, might be in order. (And in the online dating example, the next reading was Hexagram 25 unchanging, which says it all. )

Anyway... as I was saying, this is something I want to explore.


If you're completely new to the Yi, I don't think this is one for you. You want to build a habit of reading the texts and visualising the trigram pictures, not skipping them. Also, the book's lists of hexagram meanings would be a poor substitute for developing your own.

However, if you're somewhat experienced, have your favourite translations to hand, and would welcome some new, creative ideas on how to navigate the framework of your reading, then this is absolutely worth getting. It offers a fresh perspective on interpretation, and the chance to look at past readings with new eyes.

Conversations with the I Ching is self-published on Amazon US and UK

Gradually nearing the high plateau

Hexagram 53, Gradual Progress, has two lines about the high plateau:

'The wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
The husband marches out and does not return,
The wife is pregnant, but does not raise the child.
Fruitful to resist robbers.'

Hexagram 53, line 3

'Wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
Their feathers can be used to perform the sacred dances.
Good fortune.'

Hexagram 53, line 6

The auspices for these two lines are very different, so much so that they seem to refer to completely different places - not least in the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, which calls line 3 'the plateau' but line 6 'the cloud heights'. However, the word used in both lines is the same: the geese are approaching 陸 lu: a high, arid plateau.

Also, I feel the atmosphere of the two lines is similar. The geese have travelled far away from their natural habitat in the river valley, and neither line feels in the least domestic or comfortable. There are no 'honking flocks' up here, no food - not so much as a branch to perch on.

When these two lines change together, Hexagram 53 becomes Hexagram 8, Seeking Union. This got me thinking because Hexagram 8 is associated with the story of Yu the Great and especially the gathering he called after he had conquered the floods and it was time to found a new order: a gathering on a mountaintop.

The high plateau where Yu the Great called his meeting was 會稽山, Kuaiji Shan, 'Gathering and Investigation Mountain' (or even 'Gathering and Plastromantic Divination Mountain', according to one dictionary), nowadays known as Xianglu peak. Might the geese of 53.3.6 be on a gradual journey towards Yu's gathering?


'In one common story, Yu had only been married four days when he was given the task of fighting the flood. He said goodbye to his wife, saying that he did not know when he would return. During the thirteen years of flooding, he passed by his own family's doorstep three times, but each time he did not return inside his own home. The first time he passed, he heard that his wife was in labor. The second time he passed by, his son could already call out to his father. His family urged him to return home, but he said it was impossible as the flood was still going on. The third time Yu was passing by, his son was more than ten years old. Each time, Yu refused to go in the door, saying that as the flood was rendering countless number of people homeless, he could not rest.'


'The wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
The husband marches out and does not return,
The wife is pregnant, but does not raise the child.
Fruitful to resist robbers.'

This line changes to Hexagram 20, Seeing: someone who observes the whole picture from a distance, perhaps seeing everything and not just his own family. This is not a perfect match to the story as we know it now, of course, as Yu's wife did succeed in raising her child on her own. All the same...

Also, that same mountaintop where Yu called his meeting is now the site of rites in his honour, and has been since ancient times.

'Wild geese gradually progress to the high plateau.
Their feathers can be used to perform the sacred dances.
Good fortune.'

This line changes to Hexagram 39, Limping, associated with the limping flood hero. Perhaps we can even imagine the dance performed here.

In readings

I love finding these connections hidden away in plain sight in the structure of the Yijing. And then, of course, I always start to wonder how they might work in readings. There's a broad range of possibilities here because Hexagram 8 covers such a broad range of motivations. Just as Hexagram 27, for instance, could mean anything from hunger for food to spiritual hunger, so Hexagram 8 could indicate a deep longing for spiritual significance and connection, or a desire to be part of a 'tribe' of your kind of people where you feel recognised and important - or, no doubt, many other possibilities in between.

Why would any of this lead to the high plateau - to relationship failure, and higher mysteries, and the awkward, empty gulf between the two? (Yu is a great ancient hero, but we might take a dimmer view, nowadays, of the way he ignored his wife and child.)

Maybe the key is the sense of restless haste in Hexagram 8. Seeking Union is good fortune, but there is disaster for the latecomer. Making a gradual journey towards Yu's mountaintop gathering is liable to get you beheaded. What if you're missing your chance? Yet the marriage and the journey home of Hexagram 53 do take time; you have to honour every step of the process. It's a hexagram that requires tremendous patience - in my experience, always far more of it than expected. 'Constancy bears fruit'!

So the two hexagrams are at odds, and perhaps the urgent need for belonging leads to abandoning one's duty of care in line 3, as well as to the higher aspirations of line 6. (Though I'm not altogether sure that 53.6 represents an aspiration of the protagonist. The feathers are still there but the geese have gone; Yu will not be participating in his own commemorative dance. Maybe this is one of those lines 6 where a narrator looks back on the story and reflects, long after it's all over.)

I Ching Community discussion

A tied-up bag


'What do I need to know as I prepare to finish this book and send it out into the world?'

Answer: Hexagram 2, Earth, changing at lines 4 and 6 to 35, Advancing:

changing to

As Kat and I discussed this one in this latest podcast episode, we mentioned...

...and also the ancient form of a couple of words from the text: shi, 'power', as in the Image of Hexagram 2 -

'Power of the land: Earth.
A noble one, with generous character, carries all the beings.'

- has two components: 'strength', and this one, which is purely phonetic, showing a human figure about to plant a seedling:

From Chinese etymology

And then we also talked about yu, 'praise' - you can see early forms of that one here.

Enjoy the episode! (And if you'd like to share a reading of your own on a future episode, you can book a reading here.)

How far down the rabbit hole...?

On the one hand...

... it makes me unhappy to hear that someone isn't consulting the Yijing because they 'don't have time'. This is distressing and unnecessary. You can connect to a reading intuitively in a matter of minutes, have that unmistakable sense of being spoken to, and develop an understanding you can use.

Then the natural next step is to go and use it. That's how the divination process unfolds: you open yourself to hear the answer, you connect with it, and then you integrate it into your thoughts and actions. Understanding becomes change: that's how this is meant to work. There is absolutely no call to keep on digging, adding interpretive tools, tracking down all the associations, making sure you didn't miss any subtleties.

There are some people who have a strong, lifelong relationship with Yi but don't keep a journal at all, precisely because they expect their readings to become change. Maybe the idea is that their own life becomes the journal. I wouldn't be comfortable with that - I have too many readings that take months or years to bed in, and too much to learn from looking back - but it's an interesting approach. And I do have a lot of readings I only need to look at once (though I still learn a lot from reviewing them).

On the other hand...

When we consult the Yi, it's because we want to hear what it has to say - so when it answers, we listen. This is basic respect, not to mention common sense.

And so is is possible to take this 'understand and act' approach to an unwise extreme: that if you've found one bit of reading you can use, you can move on and pretend the rest of it doesn't exist. If you've understood one line, or even found an application for one or two words, you use that and discard the rest. Don't recognise the tiger in Hexagram 10? That's OK, you can forget all about it!

If you understand one line of a reading and not others, it is not a good idea to forget about the one you didn't grasp. It's the same if you can connect with the relating hexagram but not the primary, or vice versa. (I once failed to grasp a relating hexagram, asked a 'yes, but how?' follow-up question without really stopping to think, and received that relating hexagram unchanging in response.)

When an oracle's talking to you, it's as well to listen to what it says.

How deep to go?

The thing is, there is always deeper to go into a reading and more to learn from it. Hexagrams are connected with others - through trigrams, complementarity, nuclear, the Sequence, the pairs... - in a whole fabric of meaning, and following the threads, taking a step back to appreciate the bigger pattern, is always rewarding. You might look at the Sequence to see how you got here, or perhaps what you need to leave behind. Looking at the Sequence on a larger scale, though - in the patterns created across 8 or 10 or more hexagrams - and you could see much deeper themes in your reading, and learn 'what time it is' on a whole new level.

So how far down the reading rabbit-hole do you want to go?

rabbit disappearing into its burrow

Naturally, a lot depends on what you're asking about. Looking at my own journal, I was recently asking about whether to get a refund for a $49 online service - one that does transcription and video editing from the transcript, amongst other things. It was worth consulting about this, because there are things I can't know here - what uses I might find for the service in future, and how it might be developed (or abandoned) in future - but the issue's probably not worth much of my time. Even if Yi could reveal deeper underlying issues (which wouldn't surprise me in the least), the practical approach was to do one reading about refunding, one about keeping access, compare and contrast, decide and move on.

But when it comes to my reading for the year - or the one on 'how to think about this?' for an issue that's been recurring and ongoing for quite a few years - I can only benefit from coming back to it again and again. Each time I revisit it, I'll be looking at it from new angles, maybe just re-reading, maybe adding a new interpretive tool to the mix, and always learning more.

Those extra interpretive tools - nuclear hexagrams and trigrams, line pathways and the like - need handling with care. Their purpose is to help us understand the response more deeply, to answer the questions we have about it, to give us another way to look at it. In other words, the idea is to encourage reflection on the core answer, not to distract us from it.

Paradoxically, the unwise habit of ignoring chunks of a reading can also be an issue of too many tools - leapfrogging (bunny-hopping?) over the basics in our hurry to get to the favourite tool. I think most experienced users have been tempted by this - to concentrate on the fan yao instead of the cast line, for instance, or home in on subtle trigram relationships to the exclusion of all else. The result can be a very skilled, time-consuming interpretive process that resolutely avoids hearing what the oracle is saying.

Evaluating tools

If you've yet to find your own favourite tool, your journal is - yet again - your best guide. Turn to a past reading you understand well, perhaps with benefit of hindsight, and try looking at it through the lens of a new tool - change patterns, shadow, nuclears, whatever grabs you. (Note: if you have no idea what these are, and don't have time for this anyway, that’s not a problem - you can do perfectly good readings without them. But if you want to learn more, see the Change Circle Library.) Ask yourself, 'If I'd used this tool then, what would I have thought? What would I have learned? Would it have helped?'

This is how I've built up my own 'toolbox' over the years - bringing the tools to bear on present readings, of course, but also when I'm learning a new one, I will go through a dozen or so past readings to see how it really works, and whether I can sum up what it really has to tell me. If it would have helped - especially if I find myself thinking, 'If only I'd looked at that at the time!' ;) - and if exactly how it would have helped is consistent across readings, then it probably finds its way into the in-depth readings I do for clients, too.

And speaking of in-depth readings for clients... I'm going to open for full readings soon. There are two kinds of I Ching reading in the 'shop' here: I Ching chats, where we talk through a reading for half an hour and I provide something like a map of the reading you can use to explore further for yourself; and full I Ching readings, where I keep you company on the 'reading journey', as it were, for a month of calls and emails. Those full readings demand my full attention, so I only read for a few people at a time, and only open for them intermittently - in fact, this is the first time in years that it's felt right. But now it does, so if you might be interested, have a look at the description of the service and add yourself to the notification list.

I Ching Community discussion

Rejecting the standard

There are two lines in Hexagram 27, Nourishment, that refer to 'rejecting the standard':

‘Unbalanced nourishment.
Rejecting the standard, looking to the hill-top for nourishment.
Setting out to bring order – pitfall.’

Hexagram 27, line 2

'Rejecting the standard,
Dwelling here with constancy: good fortune.
Cannot cross the great river.'

Hexagram 27, line 5

So what are 'standards', and what does it mean to reject them, and where does it leave you when you do?

Warp threads

Jing character from Uncle Hanzi

The word I've translated as 'standards' is jing 經 - which is one half of the name of the oracle, Yijing / I Ching . There, it means 'Classic book' - an honorific for works of supreme importance, also used for the Bible and the Sutras. You can see how this derives from the earliest meaning of the word, warp threads: the long, strong threads on the loom, through which all the colours of the pattern are woven. The jing form the basic framework for our culture and understanding; they hold everything else together.

warp threads on a loom

The same word also means the meridians for blood and qi in Chinese medicine, lines of longitude, menses, putting virtue into practice, imitating the ancestors, and - above all - the constant rulesJing is whatever remains in place and is always applicable.

I wanted to describe all these meanings to emphasise how radical it would be to reject the standards. This is not just a matter of being a bit unconventional, showing up barefoot to a posh restaurant or some such. The whole culture is saying, 'This is how it always has been and always must be,' and you're sweeping that aside.

('Rejecting', 拂 fu, means to brush off, as in brushing off dust, as well as going against or defying. It seems both rebellious and also dismissive. In 27.3 one rejects not the standards, but nourishment itself, which is an unmixedly Bad Idea.)

27 line 2 - unbalanced nourishment

‘Unbalanced nourishment.
Rejecting the standard, looking to the hill-top for nourishment.
Setting out to bring order – pitfall.’

Almost all translations and interpretations agree that this one is wrong to reject the standard. Wilhelm (/Baynes) translates firmly as 'deviating from the path'; Deng Ming Dao says 'you disobey the right ways,' and so on. The idea (from line theory) is that line 2 looks to be nourished by the yang line 6, which is too far away - that it is more or less begging for food rather than earning its living. Deng Ming Dao thinks the line should 'find nourishment in the nearby hills instead of journeying far away,' while some also say it's wrong to lean on the yang line 1. Bradford Hatcher describes it as alternating between valley and summit, in the spirit of 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence', and getting nowhere. But despite differences, almost all commentators are agreed that line 2 is getting it all wrong.

The exceptions I'm aware of are Karcher - who says 'Clearing the channels, rejecting the rules' and is sure this is what you should be doing - and LiSe:

6 at 2: Wholly intent jaws, Rejecting the regular path to the hill. For jaws to set things right: pitfall
Do not try to restrain what is by nature excessive. Changing a Tao causes accidents. In the world all is about the normal, but the world lives by what is abnormal. So give the excessive enough room to exist.

Hexagram 27 line 2, LiSe Heyboer's translation and commentary

Compare that with Bradford:

Subverted appetites
Dismissing the customary,
Going into the hills hungering
Going boldly into failure

Hexagram 27 line 2, Bradford Hatcher's translation

Bradford uses the (beautiful!) balance of his sentence to imply that this is all describing one thing: going into the hills hungering means going boldly into failure. But I find I'm more persuaded by LiSe: 'bringing order', originally a punitive military expedition to put down unrest and restore harmony - and by extension in readings, the effort to fix the situation and set everything to rights - is the opposite of rejecting the standard.

In practice, in readings, the message seems simpler: you can't sort this out and make it work, neither by restoring the old standard nor by overwriting it. This is just not a good time for fixing things. I've found that people described by this line tend to be moved by some unmanageable hunger that can't be immediately satisfied. It may show up as idealistic, unfeasible aspirations; it may be misplaced - onto shiny new consumer goods, for instance - but then neither buying the thing nor conquering the desire will quite resolve it. Maybe the best you can do for now is to stay hungry.

In trigram terms, this is inner thunder becoming/revealing inner lake: the inner spark of energy and initiative looking to open and connect, energetically seeking exchange and enrichment.

In hexagram terms, this is 27 changing to 41: Nourishment's Decreasing. That's true in the plainest sense: then this one rejects nourishment through regular channels with nothing within reach to replace it, it will certainly end up with less. But it may also be that you need to follow the direction of Hexagram 41 and make the offering, leave the vessel empty and the space open, not try to fill it.

27 line 5 - dwelling with constancy

'Rejecting the standard,
Dwelling here with constancy: good fortune.
Cannot cross the great river.'

Hexagram 27, line 5

Traditional commentary is a little easier on line 5 than line 2. This one is obliged to depart from the norm, according to which it should be providing for those below, because as a yin line it lacks the means to do so. Instead it calls on line 6 for help, and should have no major undertakings of its own:

'It is not permitted to undertake any mission that involves overcoming great difficulties, or significantly influencing the future, as one still relies on others to accomplish one's duty.'

Tuck Chang on 27.5

So perhaps it's necessary to find an unconventional route, here, in order to do what's required of you.

Bradford sees this one as experimenting with diet, rather than driven hither and yon by appetites as at line 2; LiSe sees someone 'taking the road less travelled'. And in practice, this does seem to describe people who have reasons for rejecting the conventional ways of nourishment - who need to make a change. (There are a couple of I Ching Community examples where this line describes someone incapable of receiving nourishment through a relationship, perhaps because they're not yet in a position to give.) What they need is to 'dwell here with constancy' - to hold still and establish a stable base. They're not capable of crossing rivers, taking the plunge and forging ahead into new lands: the resources just aren't available. (And if 'standards' call for such commitment, too bad.)

The trigram picture here is of mountain and wind/wood: stillness, 'dwelling here with constancy', with a view to steady, organic growth. And the hexagram picture is of Nourishment's Increasing: Hexagram 27 changing to 42. Hence the sense of positive aspirations behind this rejection - 'aspiring to a richer and broader flow,' as I put it in my book. And if you check the fan yao - the 'reverse line', 42.5 changing to 27 - you can see that the ultimate need and motivation might indeed be to have more to give -

'True and confident, with a benevolent heart,
No question: good fortune from the source.
Truth, confidence and benevolence are my own strength.'

Hexagram 42, line 5

Learning from the connected hexagrams

There are always lessons to be learned from the relationships between hexagrams. Hexagram 27 'rejects the standard' - the jing, the constant laws that always apply, the underlying structure that makes everything else make sense - just at the points where it intersects with Hexagrams 41 and 42, Decreasing and Increasing. These two encapsulate the whole cycle of loss and gain, and with it something of a paradox -

'Decreasing, Increasing: the beginnings of abundance and decline.'

The Zagua (contrasting hexagrams)

Gain comes through loss, loss comes through gain. To be filled up, you must first empty your vessel - have, or be, less. You will need to 'restrain desires' (according to the Image of 41) and be immensely flexible, always available for improvement (according to the Image of 42).

Hexagram 27 in this context brings a big transition - a kind of major surgery, an inner rewiring or replumbing where your whole digestive and circulatory system gets rewritten. And while this is going on, you will be in a kind of limbo, a blank space between sources of nourishment. You might be asked for commitment, or feel the need to restore balance, but you're in no position to start 'bringing order' or wading rivers; you barely know where you are, let alone where to go.

About not crossing rivers...

'Rejecting the standard,
Dwelling here with constancy: good fortune.
Cannot cross the great river.'


and yet

'Increasing, fruitful to have a direction to go.
Fruitful to cross the great river.'

Hexagram 42, the Oracle

And likewise, if line 2 changes as well, the relating hexagram will be 61, Inner Truth:

'Inner truth. Piglets and fishes, good fortune.
Fruitful to cross the great river.
Constancy bears fruit.'

Hexagram 61, the Oracle

So what are we to make of this 'contradiction' - can we cross that river, or not?

This all makes sense as soon as you consider the differing roles of different parts of the reading. These relating hexagrams describe an underlying purpose: to join the flow of decrease and increase, or to be centred in Inner Truth: a larger-scale, longer-term river crossing is underway. Or to look at it another way, Inner Truth is your only guide to rejecting and rewriting the jing, the external standards - and it promises 'piglets and fishes', both nourishment and the means to participate in the flow through offerings.

But as you look towards Increase, or to Inner Truth (and yes, this is one occasion when it does make sense to imagine the relating hexagram in the future!), the rules of nourishment will have to be rewritten. And this all begins with a rejection of what works, which will more or less incapacitate you for a while.

Another way to understand this: between the caterpillar and the butterfly, pupation:

As this article puts it, 'first the caterpillar digests itself'. The chrysalis doesn't go anywhere, but the insect is transformed, changing its standard of nourishment from leaves to nectar.

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