That need Yi answers is for…
‘The Well. Moving the city, not moving the well.
Without loss, without gain,
They come and go, the well wells.
Almost drawn the water, but the rope does not quite reach the water,
Or breaking one’s clay jug,
in the background as underlying reality, and in the foreground for…
On your own day, there is truth and confidence.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
‘Bound with yellow cow-hide.’
‘Your own day, so make radical change
And set out to bring order: good fortune, no mistake.’
and then line 4:
‘Regrets vanish, there is truth and confidence.
Changing mandate, good fortune.’
This is quite similar to line 2, I think: there’s the sense of connection that translates into momentum; it feels right, and there is ‘good fortune’. Only line 2 is an inner moment of ‘owning’ the change, whereas line 4 has crossed over the threshold from inner to outer worlds, and finds itself out in the world of action. So the experience of connection begins with regrets vanishing. Regrets are the perfect opposite of fu, ‘truth and confidence’: instead of being fully here and now, they mean having second thoughts, being mentally/ emotionally elsewhere and elsewhen.
(The nuances of how this develops from 49’s Oracle are very expressive, in a highly economical way. ‘On your own day, there is fu‘ unfolds into ‘Your own day, so make radical change’ and also ‘regrets vanish, there is fu.’)
Another way to see the evolution is through the difference between the zhi gua of the two lines – the hexagram you reach by changing each individually. Line 2 connects with 43, Deciding, line 4 with 63, Already Across. Line 2 owns the change and commits; line 4 is already committed, and looking around (as fourth lines often do) to take in its role within the bigger context. Line 2 ‘sets out to bring order’, the image of a specific action or venture; line 4 sees the changing of the mandate, the whole historical moment. Perhaps line 2 realises, ‘This is my change’ and line 4 realises ‘I can trust and be part of this change’ – both true, just seeing from different vantage points.
Hexagram 63, Already Across, sees the present moment in its context: the Zhou people (whose oracle this is) had already crossed the river, set change in motion, but they also remembered what happened to the last people to do the same: they’d become the corrupt regime from whom the Zhou had just inherited the mandate. ‘Beginnings, good fortune; endings, chaos.’ So when the change is already happening and the new governing principles are already coming into play, it’s good to stay in the present moment, to keep on beginning.
In a way, this echoes line 1 – that feeling of, ‘You are here, now what will you make of it?’ It’s just that the view of ‘here’ has become much further-reaching. Line 1 says – if you seek transformation, perhaps you might need to start with your boots – or the contents of your pantry, or your email inbox, or your daily habits. Line 4 is already involved in the unfolding transformation. With this line change, the lake trigram reveals kan, depths and flow, behind it – which evokes a depth of commitment becoming momentum.
So as a series of needs Yi meets… line 1 is the need for absolute awareness of where we are, line 2 the need to recognise and identify with the moment, and line 4 extends beyond awareness and recognition into action. Which, I think, will fit the experience of anyone who’s spent a while with Yi. It’s not just that you ‘get the message’ and go off to act: you carry the reading’s way of understanding with you, and that lets you be a complete, wholehearted participant in what’s unfolding. Then truly extraordinary things are possible: even the mandate can change.
And as ever… sometimes this could be about going out boldly to change the world, and sometimes it could be about keeping still. Either way, it’s bringing your awareness back to the hinge and pivot of change.
(Back when we were discussing 49.4 in the I Ching Community, Bamboo recounted a dream of hers that Yi described with this line. Worth a read!)
Let’s walk round the line pathway for 49.4 and see what comes into view…
It might feel like, or be aware of, 63.4:
‘The leaks are plugged with clothes of silk
For the whole day, on guard.’
It might, mightn’t it? Making do as you go along, doing what’s necessary to keep in motion, staying awake. It reminds me of those moments in mid-conversation or mid-crisis (or both) when I suddenly think, ‘Oh, this is that line!’ – and so I can stay afloat. Whatever ideas you had about the interpretation or the situation are no longer so important. This could be where regrets vanish – preconceptions, old ideas that were cut from whole cloth, are torn up and stuffed into holes in the boat. In other words, they become useful!
And that awareness might tend towards 64.3 –
‘Not yet across. Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Fruitful to cross the great river.’
– knowing you have a transition to complete before you can fix or finalise anything. Nothing is safe yet.
And ‘finally’ (these pathways really travel in loops), 49.4 is paired with and points towards 50.3:
‘The vessel’s ears are radically changed,
Its action blocked.
Rich pheasant fat goes uneaten.
Rain on all sides lessens regrets,
In the end, good fortune.’
The vessel’s ears are the loops to insert the carrying handle – they’re how it can be moved and hence put to use. It seems a change of mandate means a change of ears (‘radically changed’ is the same words in the Chinese as the name of hexagram 49) – which results in the vessel being out of service for a time. That makes straightforward sense, in that a change of regime must involve a transition period.
And in relation to the question, the need Yi answers… well, the ‘ears’ are also literal ears, the things we hear with, so perhaps this is an end point for the whole reading experience: radically changed ears. (Which mean we can be moved and put to use in different ways.) A capacity for radically different listening would take time to develop, too – time, and the release of tension and liberation of potential that lessens regrets – until we could access the full richness of reading and experience.
(Not attempting to sum up the whole reading here – maybe it’d be more fitting to leave things open?)