...life can be translucent

Lost and found

Lost and found

A set of three lines

Something I learned from Scott Davis*: it’s worth taking a second look at anything that shows up in the Yijing in a set of three.

*Though come to think of it, there are about eight reasons why I might’ve got a clue a little earlier…

And it turns out that Yi has three ‘lost and found’ lines: 38.1, 51.2 and 63.2.

‘Regrets vanish.
Lost horse: don’t chase it, it returns of itself.
See hateful people, no mistake.’

Hexagram 38, Opposing, line 1

‘Shock comes, danger.
A hundred thousand coins lost.
Climb the nine hills, don’t give chase.
On the seventh day, gain.’

Hexagram 51, Shock, line 2

‘A wife loses her carriage screen.
Don’t chase it.
On the seventh day, gain.’

Hexagram 63, Aready Across, line 2

All three lines say that something is lost, but 勿逐 – do not give chase. 51.2 and 63.2 also both say that there will be gain on the seventh day – perhaps that’s when we get our coins or carriage-screen back, or some other compensation. In any case, here are three very similar lines, all with a hint of the proverbial about them.

38, line 1

‘Regrets vanish.
Lost horse: don’t pursue it, it returns of itself.
See hateful people, no mistake.’

This is our first experience of Opposing because the horse (power, agency, communication…) runs away, from safely inside our home space to outside, where it’s lost. I was secure inside my home with my people (Hexagram 37), but now I have to think about what’s outside. (And the people there are foreign, too – hateful people, or rather people I see as hateful.)

Only… the line begins with regrets vanish, and the logic is clear: regrets vanish, like a horse coming back, like finding there is no mistake despite seeing ‘hatefulness’. A lost horse that’s back in the stable is not a lost horse: like regrets, the loss has vanished. (This is different from the next two lines, where you’ll have to wait seven days for gain.)

This line points you to Hexagram 64, Not Yet Across – a reminder of the need for thoughtfulness, not leaping blindly into action. And also, just because this change travels all the way to the end of the book, it’s a reminder of the need for patience and a longer-term perspective, without premature judgement. What you can see now looks all wrong, but time will tell. (In readings, this is often a good moment to remember the story of the old man who lost his horse.)

51, line 2

‘Shock comes, danger.
A hundred thousand coins lost
Climb the nine hills,
Don’t give chase.
On the seventh day, gain.’

Another disquieting, disconcerting loss. In times of Shock, we are intent on not losing things – the sacred ladle (in the oracle text) or our intention (line 5). But when we lose coins, perhaps the shock has dislodged our sense of security and resourcefulness.

This line specifically shows the danger of shock. I think that’s less the loss of the coins, and more the impulse to chase precipitately after them and get distracted from the important things. (Run back into danger to save your family, yes, but not your wallet.) The reaction would be worse than the problem.

This line joins with Hexagram 54, the Marrying Maiden: literally, a marrying ‘not-yet woman‘, not ready for the situation where she finds herself, and certainly in no position to fix anything.

Instead of chasing after your loss, you need to ‘climb the nine hills’. Again, this is pointing to the need for long-term thinking and planning – long enough, maybe, to forge a marital alliance (51.6). But where are those nine hills?

The nine hills

I haven’t found any author who identifies those ‘nine hills’. Rutt says this is probably a general way of saying ‘all the hills’, just as Sima Qian said of Yu the Great that he “opened the nine lands, connected the nine roads, embanked the nine lakes, and surveyed the nine mountains.”

Wilhelm says of 51.2, ‘Flight to the hills is suggested by the lower nuclear trigram Ken, mountain.’ Here it is:

That’s good, but it’s only one hill. Where are the other eight? Well…

As you can see, you must climb exactly nine gen trigrams to travel from 51.2 to the next ‘lost and found’ line, 63.2, and so to the end of the book.

So… don’t give chase; instead, set out on this long journey and climb all the way to 63.2, to regain a missing… carriage-screen?

63, line 2

‘A wife loses her carriage screen.
Don’t chase it.
On the seventh day, gain.’

It’s not actually completely clear what the wife loses here – some translators think it’s some kind of hair ornament. But when this word appears in the Book of Songs, it’s mostly a carriage screen, one that might be made of bamboo or feathers. I can imagine something like that floating away downstream as we drive our carriage through a deep ford; it’s harder to imagine how that could happen to a hairgrip. (As ever, it helps to look at the context!)

The wife crossing the river might well be on her way to her new home as a bride. Now that part of her carriage has gone downstream, just when everything was supposed to be in perfect order, she might feel quite exposed. She will need to embody the qualities of this line’s zhi gua, Hexagram 5, and have faith.

Seven days?

Naturally, when I see a reference to gain ‘in seven days’, I start looking for things to count. (Especially since a week was ten days long, so there must be some special reason for an interval of seven.)

And… it turns out there are seven hexagram pairs from 51/52 to 63/64. (And while 38 doesn’t mention seven of anything, from 37/38 to 49/50 is also seven pairs.)

I haven’t wholly convinced myself that this is a real reference. When Hexagram 24 says the return comes in seven days, I count seven hexagrams to reach 30 (full sun) or 31 (starting over with the Lower Canon), not seven pairs. When I count ten pairs forward from 41.5/42.2 to reach their zhi gua, 61, that’s because the text mentions ten pairs of objects used in divination. But I don’t have any very good reason to count in pairs here, except that it comes out nicely.

(The mid-point – seven individual hexagrams away from each line – is 57. That’s actually more ‘found and lost’ than ‘lost and found’: the money and axe gained at 56.4 are lost at 57.6.)

Still… to wander for a moment into the realms of utterly wild speculation, a lost carriage screen on the way to the marital home might prefigure a lost hymen, and according to LiSe the name of Hexagram 51 also means conception and quickening. (A good reason to Wait.) Also, starting at Hexagram 51, people climb up the nine hills towards 63, while anything lost when crossing a river will be swept away downstream.

So it seems to me that there could be a conversation going on between these two lines. I’ll be keeping an eye open for it in readings, anyway.

Lost property office
Find your missing carriage screen here

I Ching Community discussion

Leave a reply

Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
United Kingdom

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