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Walking round the pathway of 42.6

Walking round the pathway of 42.6

This isn’t one of those posts where I explore many different experts’ translations and interpretations of a line. Instead, it’s just things I’ve learned from a combination of reading experiences and a line pathway.

What’s a line pathway?

A line pathway is what LiSe calls ‘mirrors’: a group of four lines, connected either through change – 42.6 becomes 3, 3.6 becomes 42 –

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– or inversion: 42.6 upside-down is 41.1; 3.6 upside-down is 4.1.

upside down is


upside down is

When you’re looking at a reading, one of these lines is your cast line, and each of the others has a specific role in the pathway, and specific things it can show you – see the Line Pathways course in the Change Circle Library. But it can also be interesting, away from readings, just to look at one of these groups of four lines to see how they’re connected and what light they cast on one another – to take a ‘circular walk’ round the pathway and see how it looks from these four different perspectives.

42, line 6

‘Absolutely no increase for this one,
Someone strikes them.
The heart’s foundation is not lasting,

I’d really be quite happy if I never received this line again. I’ve found it describes the experience of being slapped down – sometimes when I expected it, often when I didn’t.

This is the sixth line, the furthest extreme of Increase, asking ‘What can be changed? How can this grow and improve?’ from a lofty position, far away from ground-level realities. It’s also the line that changes to Hexagram 3, Sprouting, with its great surge of desire to grow, explore and reach out. Increase and Sprouting agree: they want to grow, create change, make things better! And we know how well that works out. Absolutely no increase for this one.


But why no increase – what went wrong? The ‘master’ in the Dazhuan explains:

“The superior man sets his person at rest before he moves; he composes his mind before he speaks; he makes his relations firm before he asks for something. By attending to these three matters, the superior man gains complete security. But if a man is brusque in his movements, others will not co-operate. If he is agitated in his words, they awaken no echo in others. If he asks for something without having first established relations, it will not be given to him. If no one is with him, those who would harm him draw near.”

Dazhuan, Wilhelm/Baynes translation

Stephen Karcher thinks this is the record of a master diviner extemporising on a reading, and that seems right to me. It fits the way these passages of the Dazhuan tend to be strongly relevant sometimes. I’ve found the most relevant part here is, “If he asks for something without having first established relations, it will not be given to him.”

I looked up the Chinese original to make sure I understood it. What the noble one does is to 定其交而后求 – ‘He settles and makes sure of (ding, 定) his jiao 交, and-then-afterwards asks.’

The subject of the line, by contrast, 無交而求 – ‘Without jiao, then asks’ – with the result that 民不與, ‘people don’t offer support.’

So jiao 交, ‘relations’, are clearly the crucial factor We know the word from 14.1 – ‘no interaction with what is harmful.’ It means intercourse, friendship, mixing, mingling, intersecting. The noble one has made sure of this first; muggins (as my mother might’ve called the subject of this line) is asking for something though she has no jiao at all – no meeting, no mingling, no mutual involvement.

The heart’s foundation not lasting

Back to the line itself, and the ‘heart’s foundation not lasting’. ‘Lasting’ here is the name of Hexagram 32, which is the exact opposite of 42 –

is the opposite of

– so it’s natural it should be missing here at the extreme of 42.

The foundation is li 立: to stand, to raise (like the king setting up the royal standard), to construct buildings, to set up. The old character shows a human figure standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground. The English idiom for someone with no lasting li might be ‘doesn’t have a leg to stand on.’

It’s often said that this line is about someone getting their come-uppance for being selfish, but my experience suggests that’s not quite right. 42.6 can apply to someone who’s wholly focussed on benefitting other people. If the slap-down comes as a shock, that’s because she’s founded her heart on a relationship or mutual agreement she assumes is there. (It isn’t.) She isn’t necessarily selfish, just… self-centred, perhaps? She imagines that others must share her understanding and agenda, so it never occurred to her to be like the master diviner’s noble one, and check first.

Paired line 41.1

The paired line, 41.1, shows the other side of this coin:

‘Bringing business to an end, going swiftly,
Not a mistake.
Considering decreasing this.’

You need, says 41.1, to finish with your stuff and move swiftly on. I can see a connection: 42.6 is the situation of someone who has not brought their business to an end, but is still involved in it to the exclusion of all else.

‘Consider’ is a lovely word: 酌, zhuo, originally showing a wine vessel and ladle. Your own business needs to be opened up for discussion (like the relating-interacting-mingling of the Dazhuan?) as it’s poured out, offered up and diminished. Once it’s emptied out, or at least occupying less space, there might be room to learn something…

Fan yao 3.6

The fan yao of 42.6 – the opposite direction along the same path – is 3.6. Increase infused with Sprouting’s energy for growth and exploration turned out to be a mess – and so too is Sprouting that goes looking for Increase:

‘Now driving a team of horses,
Now tears of blood flow.’

In lines 2 and 4 of Hexagram 3, the suitor drives out and meets his bride. In line 6, he just drives out… and out…

This looks like a fan yao as emotional context, something to be aware of: commitment that meets no correspondence, like a heart whose foundation is not lasting.

Fourth line, 4.1

And so we come round to the final line of the pathway, 4.1:

‘Opening up ignorance,
Fruitful to use this for punishing people,
To use removing shackles and manacles,
Cause of shame in going on.’

There’s a distinct difference between sixth and first lines in this pathway: 41.1 and 4.1 are creating an opening to learn; 3.6 and 42.6 seem to show where you land if you miss that chance. And I think 4.1 uncovers a deep theme they all share: the importance of opening up, becoming available for new experience and getting beyond the limitations of our own perspective.

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