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Category Archives: Connecting hexagrams

Speculations on relations between hexagrams: the Sequence, patterns of trigrams, nuclear hexagrams, etc

Revolution without entanglement

Revolution without entanglement
This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Two-line relationships

I’m repeating myself here, but never mind – it bears repeating. The Yi is wonderfully made, with mind-boggling depth. One of the ways this manifests is in the relationships between changing lines and their zhi gua, the hexagram that follows from the change.

For example, 49.3 changes to Hexagram 17, Following:

changing to

‘Setting out to bring order: pitfall,
Constancy: danger.
As words of radical change draw near three times,
There is truth and confidence.’

This is Radical Change that needs to Follow, to flow, to arise naturally and bring people with it. So it’s no time to ‘bring order’, to impose discipline and make change happen: what’s needed is conversation, or reflection, revisiting the idea of change again and again, creating trust and unanimity.

‘Setting out to bring order’ is my rather long-winded translation for zheng, 征: ‘journey’ or ‘march’, as in the Long March. Originally, this referred to a military expedition, when the king or his general raised an army and marched out to reestablish order and control. In readings, this tends to represent fixing things: active intervention to sort stuff out and make it work. Naturally, there are good and bad times for this – but isn’t it striking to find a warning against zheng in the middle of a hexagram about revolution?

The same warning comes again in line 6, which changes to 13, People in Harmony:

changing to

‘Noble one transforms as a leopard,
Small people radically change their faces.
Setting out to bring order: pitfall.
Settling with constancy: good fortune.’

I think the challenge of Hexagram 13 is to create harmony between people who are allied in the same cause, but not from the same clan. They meet out ‘in the wilds’, outside any one people’s territory, and need to cross the great river to get beyond their parochial mindset.

So where Radical Change tends towards People in Harmony, the need is not to impose order, not to dominate, but to accept the kinds of change that different people are capable of. The noble one’s constancy bears fruit, says Hexagram 13; settling with constancy is good, says the line that points there.

I didn’t choose these two lines at random, but because of what I find really breathtaking about the structure of the Yi: that you can often see how the zhi gua for multiple line changes are also a perfect fit. Each time I notice a new example of this, it gives me pause for thought: what else haven’t I noticed? how much more am I missing?

And sure enough, these two lines, the only ones in Hexagram 49 that warn you against military action, change together to reveal Hexagram 25, Without Entanglement.

changing to

How can you have a revolution without entanglement – without going against the laws of heaven, without unfounded belief or futile action? Through Following, through Harmony among People – and by not setting out to bring order.

Travelling as relating hexagram

Travelling as relating hexagram

A Change Circle member asked for examples and impressions of Hexagram 56, Travelling, as relating hexagram. After I’d trawled through my journal for examples for her, I thought I’d like to keep digging, so here’s the result… I’d expect the relating hexagram to describe subjective more than objective reality, and that was what emerged from… Continue Reading

Limping disentangled

Limping disentangled

‘Above the mountain, there is water. Limping.Noble one turns himself around to renew his character.’ Hexagram 39, the Image When the Image authors talked of ‘turning oneself around’ in Hexagram 39, they were picking up on a theme in the older layers of text. To start with, the Oracle says that the west and south… Continue Reading

Telling the story

Telling the story
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Wings

The Xugua – its scope and limits As you may know, I’m a huge enthusiast for the Sequence of Hexagrams: its hidden patterns, the ways it creates meaning, its big reflections and arcs and the way it adds depth to readings. The Xugua, the 9th Wing… is not really about any of that. It doesn’t… Continue Reading

A patchwork of hexagrams

A patchwork of hexagrams
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Wings

Introducing the Zagua The Yi became the Yijing, a Classic book, as it grew its Ten Wings: ten bodies of commentary and reflections on the oracle and its hexagrams. The Zagua, ‘Mixed hexagrams’, is the tenth and last of these: a short, simple, rhyming description of the hexagrams in pairs. (Za 雜, ‘mixed’, implies a… Continue Reading

Three pots

Three pots

Introducing the 缶 fou jar Here’s another character that occurs just three times in the Yijing: fou 缶. This is a vessel for holding liquids, something like an amphora, with a narrow neck and large body. It’s originally a pottery jar – that’s the first meaning of the character – but was also made in… Continue Reading

Reflecting stories

Reflecting stories

How lucky we are that scholars have dug out some of the ancient stories ‘behind’ the Yijing – stories its authors would have known naturally, but that can require some real ingenuity to ferret out nowadays. Hexagrams 55 and 56, Abundance and the Traveller Hexagram 55 is Abundance, and Abundance, Feng, is also the name… Continue Reading

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