Make hay while the sun shines
Hexagram 35 is one of the sunniest in the Yijing:
‘Advancing, Prince Kang used a gift of horses to breed a multitude.
In the course of a day, he mated them three times.’
Look, it says, you are recognised, you have wonderful gifts, and now you can make the most of them! Seize the day! Grasp your opportunity! This is your day in the sun – the trigram picture shows its light over the earth – so make as much hay as you can. Time to make progress!
It’s like an earthier version of the Parable of the Talents: if you’re given five talents, make another five; even if you’re only given one, don’t just go and bury it. (That would be the action of the paired hexagram, 36, Brightness Hiding, where the light is hidden away under the earth. As relating hexagram, it can sometimes be like the paranoid servant with the single talent.)
When Advancing is the relating hexagram, it may not be objectively true that this is your day in the sun, but there is still an underlying attitude of sunny optimism, seeking out the opportunities in the situation to make the most of them. ‘How can this be a way to make progress?’
And this attitude is one you can expect to see in moving lines that point towards Hexagram 35. I’ve mentioned this before when I wrote about Hexagram 40 changing to 35. When is Release at its most purposeful and goal-oriented? When it’s the release of arrows, aimed at the foxes or the hawk.
Hexagram 40 blends quite naturally with 35’s bright Advancing. In other readings, where the primary hexagram presents more obstacles or limiting factors, Hexagram 35 relating shows a willingness to look past them – an ‘OK, so this is the situation, it is what it is, so now how can I make the most of it?‘ And this works better in some situations than others…
Line by line
Here are all the lines that – changing alone – connect with Hexagram 35.
‘Shoes locked in the stocks, feet disappear.
Not a mistake.’
But remember that Hexagram 21, Biting Through, begins by asserting that it is ‘fruitful to make use of legal proceedings’. Punishment is meant to be enlightening – an opportunity to learn something. Hence being immobilised and disempowered for now is no mistake: you can still be making progress in understanding. You can see how the meanings of the two hexagrams meet here: Biting Through Advances towards truth, or at least towards a more realistic understanding of consequences. You get the opportunity to sit and think.
(In practice, this isn’t necessarily a punitive, moral kind of learning; I’ve also seen it describe being stopped by a medical issue, needing the doctors to ‘bite through’ to diagnosis.)
‘Your wheels dragged back.
Constancy, good fortune.’
Much as in 21.1, sometimes you make the most of things by not being in a great hurry to advance. If you apply the brakes and go slowly enough to retain control of your carriage’s momentum, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching the opposite bank without being swept downstream.
Hexagram 35 is present here as confidence. If I know I’m Advancing towards my chosen destination across the river (a land of opportunity, no doubt!), I won’t let myself be rushed. Crossing my fingers, shutting my eyes tightly and hurtling in at top speed is not the same – and I have a few readings with this line where the advice was plainly, ‘Hold your horses – there’s more to learn yet.’
There’s an interesting example of this reading in this post from 2006. How can a science graduate link to the I Ching? To start with, by realising that he is not across the river after all, or not quite all the rivers, and with that 35 mindset of looking for the opportunity in this tempered by the caution of a fox. The opportunities for progress in being Not Yet Across involve taking things slowly.
‘Traveller burns down his resting place
Loses his young helper.
The gung-ho approach of 35 makes for an interesting combination with the traveller’s insecurity. I imagine the traveller in his resting place, deciding that if a small hearth fire is good a big one must be better, and managing to set fire to the chimney. And I’ve seen a good few readings with this line where over-enthusiasm endangers a relationship.
Still… this does only say ‘constancy, danger’ and not ‘pitfall, calamity and blunder’. LiSe sees it completely differently:
“When a dangerous task has to be accomplished, it is better to burn one’s ships. Fear is strong, but without a refuge it is easier to cope with. When troops start marching to the war, they remove their camp, so the decision is definite.”
This is another side of the Advancing attitude: the only way is forward, more and better; falling back is not an option. If you are serious about starting a business, quit your day job – take away your security net. (Note: this is generally terrible advice.) Constancy means danger: this is not a way of life, but it could be a way to get yourself moving.
‘Stripping the bed by way of the flesh.
This one is unambiguous: in a time of Stripping Away, ‘let’s make the most of this!’ is just not a good approach. If some Stripping Away is needed, more is not better. Peeling away what is dead and defunct is good; peeling away the living flesh is not.
Looking through readings with this line, I found an interesting pattern: people who have suffered a loss and are doing their utmost to dig in and explore what happened, sometimes many years later. They seem to feel that their experience has to mean something – there has to be a big cosmic reason why the relationship failed, or an international conspiracy that caused the pandemic. It’s Hexagram 35 at work again: looking for a way to turn this loss into progress, to ‘make the most of it’ somehow. This time, it’s purely self-destructive.
‘Resting when blocked.
Great person, good fortune.
It is lost, it is lost!
Tie it to the bushy mulberry tree.’
Hexagram 12 tells you there is nothing useful you can do. More effort is not going to help. ‘Very well,’ says Hexagram 35. ‘Effort won’t work, so now what? Where is the opportunity now? Where’s the progress?’
To start with, it finds an opportunity to rest. This isn’t just a reaction – it’s good fortune for the great person, who can see that things may change. And – because it confidently expects to find something growing – it binds its hopes to the mulberry, that will regrow by itself however savagely it was cut back.
Blocked Advancing isn’t so much about seeing what you can do: very often, it starts by recognising that what you were trying to do isn’t happening, is past saving, not going to work. So… find your mulberry! What grows anyway, of itself, despite everything?
‘Enthusiasm in the dark.
Results bring a change of heart,
Enthusiasm is all about mental pictures, imagining and anticipating. By the time it reaches line 6, it’s becoming apparent that motivation and imagination can only get you so far: you’re still in the dark, and will be until you can see some real-world results.
This line often comes up for people whose imaginings are taking over, despite being wholly groundless. (That goes equally for over-optimism and -pessimism.) I’ve also had it a couple of times when asking about changing to a new software solution, a time when there’s really no substitute for practical experience.
How to Advance from here? Like 21.1, it’s a ‘learning opportunity’: best to forge ahead and benefit from trial and error.
Just a couple of bonus examples…
I found my publisher had used my translation in an ‘I Ching divination kit’. It’s nightmarishly bad – consulting with a card deck, no changing line texts to be seen anywhere, so that it’s actually impossible to consult the Yi with this thing at all.
They have the rights to use the translation as long as they keep it in print, so there was no way I could stop them from producing this horror. And any royalties from sales would be credited to me.
I knew what I wanted to do about this, but I checked with Yi anyway: what would be the right thing to do about royalties for the divination kit? 25.1.5 to 35. I told them I didn’t want any.
You can see the 35 here: I was looking for 35, for something positive I could do about this, given all I couldn’t do, and I found a way to make Disentangling feel like a kind of progress.
My second example comes from this I Ching Community reading, about Boris Johnson as Prime Minister: 21.1 changing to 35. As I write this, he’s trying to slip out of the stocks again – perhaps things could have ended differently for him with a bit more Hexagram 21? But for a perfect embodiment of the 35-as-relating attitude (though not for much else), I can recommend his first speech as Prime Minister, delivered under the blazing sun on one of the hottest days of summer, all aglow with optimism and fiery with impatience to seize the ‘opportunities of Brexit’.