Opening other hexagrams
I mentioned in my post on Hexagram 58 how its meanings of joy, communication and exchange are connected with the action of breaking things open, opening them up. When lines change and Opening is joined with other hexagrams, it seems to be opening them up for exchange and communication – putting their ideas into circulation, or simply getting into conversation.
Line 1: Opening Confinement
The lake trigram’s first line changes to reveal kan, running water: the lake’s currents, how it moves.
‘Responsive opening: good fortune’Hexagram 58, line 1
He, ‘responsive’ or ‘harmonious’, is a rather beautiful character showing a mouth and a stalk of grain. It’s the same word you see in the poem of Hexagram 61, line 2:
‘Calling crane in the shadows,Hexagram 61, line 2
Her young respond in harmony.
I have a good wine vessel,
I will share with you, pouring it all out.’
The young chicks he: they ‘respond in harmony’ or ‘join in singing’. This is where Opening begins: by responding and joining in. Singing in harmony demands listening; first of all, you have to open your ears.
So it’s perhaps a bit surprising that this line changes to Hexagram 47, Confined, which is pretty much the opposite of responsiveness. What’s that about?
An obvious answer is that this line is Opening Confinement. Words may not be trusted (as in 47’s Oracle), but responsiveness listens more than it talks; it keeps quiet for long enough to connect.
But I’ve found this responsiveness is also based on 47’s quality of self-reliance: responding, not asking or expecting that the other meet your needs. And it’s also ‘Opening Confined’: responding within limits, within the bounds of the other person’s needs – not bawling out Nessun Dorma in the shower.
And also… this reminds me how, when I was about 9 and first expected to sing in harmony, I couldn’t do it; I would be so flooded by the other parts that I couldn’t hear my own. I had to block my ears to hear my own part first. Perhaps that’s Opening with Confining, too.
Line 2: Opening Following
‘True and confident opening, good fortune.Hexagram 58, line 2
This line shows lake’s thunder: its power to act and set things in motion. That comes from fu – trust, presence, sincerity, faith – banishing regrets, which imply separation from the present moment, or being in two minds. Fu is always whole and present.
This is 58 zhi 17, Opening’s Following: creating alignment, bringing us into accord.
A few years ago, I asked Yi about the experience of resonance, and received 58.2.5 to 51:
Line 3: Opening Deciding
‘Coming opening, pitfall.’58, line 3
I believe the most straightforward translation of this enigmatically laconic little line would be ‘Pending Opening’ or ‘Opening to come’ – that is, ‘coming’ is a marker for the future tense, and this is opening in the future.
In practice, in readings, the line tends to be about someone looking to the future, anticipating what it will bring.
Think of the trigram dui, and the character dui, and where this line is located: at the surface of the lake, open to the sky, or the open mouth, calling to the ancestral spirits. There’s a quotation from one Jules Renard (unless it’s a Chinese proverb): “Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” This line might be for him.
It points us towards Hexagram 43, Deciding – the hexagram where the messenger comes to the king’s court, ‘with truth, calling out, there is danger,’ notifying the town, advocating a ‘direction to go’. Hexagram 58 Opens up the message and brings it all into question; now, there’s an active interplay between what you expect (anticipate? dread? affirm?) and what’s coming.
The problem with this line might be how it ‘decides’ what shall come – I’ve seen it comment on the practice of affirmations for wealth. (‘I receive £1 million effortlessly! I receive £1 million effortlessly!’) Also, its future-orientation is a problem in itself, which is how Bradford Hatcher sees it: ‘Waiting for one great ship to come in, one can miss two ships’ worth of rowboats.’
Line 4: Opening Measure
‘Negotiating opening, not yet at rest.Hexagram 58, line 4
Containing the affliction brings rejoicing.’
Once again, the lake flows into the river – but this time, it seems it’s important to set limits to its flow.
Stephen Field makes an interesting observation here: the word I’ve translated ‘Negotiating’ is actually Shang, the name of the dynasty conquered by the Zhou (the people who first created/discovered the Yi as an oracle). Could these be ‘Shang discussions’ – making settlements after the conquest? Perhaps. In that case, you might want to ‘contain the affliction’ of restless or aggrieved people within borders, to avoid contagion.
And you can imagine this as ‘Opening with Measure’, using the wisdom of Hexagram 60 to find a workable agreement. The line would call for ‘Opening Measuring’, too: opening up questions of measure, contracts and borders.
I wrote more about this line and its connection with Hexagram 60 in this article on ‘borders and boundaries’:
Line 5: Opening and the Marrying Maiden
‘Trusting in stripping away,Hexagram 58, line 5
There is danger.’
This is the one line that doesn’t mention dui, ‘opening’. Instead it speaks of fu, trust-truth-confidence, and stripping away – which is the name of Hexagram 23, where the mountain is eroding into the earth. You could imagine either of these as ‘peak dui‘: trusting, being wholly available, without reserve or second-guessing; stripping away, breaking open the protective covering so there is no roof separating your altar from the heavens (see my first Hexagram 58 post) and everything lies wide open. Trusting stripping away – a reminder that another word for ‘open’ is ‘unprotected’. Yi says this is dangerous; it doesn’t say whether not it’s wise.
This line changing reveals the Marrying Maiden – because any marriage, let alone the marriage of a powerless girl, is the ultimate in removal of outer, protective layers. It’s the end of self-containment: now you are opened up and joined to the other.
Line 6: Opening Treading
‘Opening that pulls.’Hexagram 58, line 6
‘Pulling’ here is yin, 引, as in drawing a bow. So it carries associations of drawing something towards oneself, and a pull that creates tension. It also means leading, guiding or prolonging. I’ve seen readings where it describes sexual attraction, or the seductive power of a cult, or a drug, or advertising. But it’s important not to be ‘pulled’ out of true by any one reading experience: Yi, after all, isn’t saying whether this is good or bad.
(Indeed, the further you travel upward and outward through Opening, from the inner to the outer trigram, the less the lines have to say about an ultimate outcome – the more ‘open-ended’ it becomes.)
‘Opening that pulls’ is Opening Treading, Hexagram 10:
‘Treading a tiger’s tail.
It does not bite people.
The enduring mystery of Hexagram 10 is why anyone would want to get close to a tiger – now, or three thousand years ago, when the chance of being eaten was that much closer. And yet we do: power attracts. In 58.6, it’s ‘opened’ to us, experienced as a force of communication that pulls.