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Blog post: Hexagram 60 as relating hexagram


Apr 8, 1970
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Hexagram 60 as relating hexagram

bamboo segments


Hexagram 60 is called Measuring, or Limits – not in the sense of imposing restrictions, but of knowing where the edges are, and discovering or negotiating what’s workable.

The original concept is the knots and segments of bamboo, and hence all ways of dividing up something big into smaller segments – the chapters of a book, the festivals of a year – to make it more human-scale, or just more knowable. When a journalist tells you that something is the area of however-many football pitches, they’re Measuring it for you.

How do you Measure? The Oracle shows the fundamental standard:
‘Measuring, creating success.
Bitter measures do not allow for constancy.’

It’s subjective perception. (Not law, not tradition, not morality, but how it tastes.)

The Image unpacks the idea of what does and doesn’t allow for constancy:
‘Above the lake is the stream. Measuring.
A noble one crafts number and measure,
Reflecting on character in action.’

I think the flow of water between stream and lake is something to be worked out through experimentation: how can you manage the flow to preserve both reservoir and stream? Or how can you manage your own strengths to ensure the work is done? You will need to measure, to count, and to observe and reflect as you go.

So… how does this work when as a relating hexagram? When it’s the background to your reading, or your direction or approach?

Notes from my journal​

The first place I go to answer a question like that is always my own readings journal. I run a quick ‘cast history’ search for 60 as relating hexagram, go through the list of readings that pops up and see what they have in common. (‘Cast history’ search is a Resonance Journal feature.)

I find there are a couple of readings about business commitments: how much more to do for Clarity members during lockdown, for instance, or what kind of podcast routine I can manage. It comes up a few times in readings about productivity and getting organised, quietly reminding me of the underlying question: what can you do? what will you do, in practice? And there are a couple about communication: how to convey what I need to, but without sparking panic?

It can be about boundaries or limits, but the underlying issue always seems to be finding enough, but not too much.

Individual lines​

My second port of call (always with the help of ‘cast history’!) is the single lines that change to Hexagram 60 – six points of connection where an underlying question of Measuring shines through.


‘Repeated chasms.
Entering into the pit within the chasm.

With your first steps into the Chasms, it probably seems wholly reasonable to start Measuring: how far? how deep? Only, it turns out, this doesn’t work well. The whole impulse to sound the thing out and measure its depths only gets you deeper in – when what you need is a way through.

People who receive this line often seem to be trying to get the measure of the chasms. This is something like trying to negotiate an agreement with the Grand Canyon, or divide a torrent into bite-sized pieces, or to taste an absence – as when you ask ‘How does x feel about me?’ but x forgot your existence months ago.

Sometimes the attitude embodied by a relating hexagram looks like the source of a line’s experience; sometimes, it looks like what you need to navigate it. Very often, it’s both. Since ‘Measuring means stopping’ (according to the Zagua), perhaps 60 is also what we need at this line. But in practice with this one, I usually find it’s the desire to Measure that sucks people further into the pits.

Looking at the fan yao, 60.1 changing to 29 –
‘Not going out of the door to the family rooms.
Not a mistake.’

-might show some of the delusion that keeps us stuck in here. It feels fine, ‘not a mistake’, to stay inside what we know intimately. Measuring, after all, begins with how the experience tastes, and I don’t need anything outside me to tell me that.

So… I might be asking how x feels, but my only measure is how I feel. I might ask how about doing this thing for people, purely from my own need to be doing something, with no awareness of their experience. I might feel as though I’m measuring something out there, but I’m really still in the echo chamber of my own unconscious mind.


‘Now sprouting, now hesitating.
Now driving a team of horses.
Not robbers at all, but marital allies.
The child-woman’s constancy – no children.
Ten years go by, then there are children.’

Second lines are often about reaching out, making connections, so it’s natural for this line to be about marriage – and for the ’60-ish-ness’ of it to have to do with negotiations and timing.

There is hesitancy: is this the right moment to embark on marriage? Might these be robbers? (Or at least a groom who is signalling his poverty?) What if there are no children? It’s all very confusing. I wrote about this a few years back,
Of course Hexagram 3 is the very beginning of everything – and it’s also the first time the marriage theme appears in the Yi at all. The future bride is still a child herself (following Wu Jing Nuan’s interpretation, which has always felt right to me) so it is far too early for children. All you have to do, though, is to be patient and constant for ten years. If you’re willing to wait that long, and can afford to, then there is no need for hesitancy: a delay might be mistaken for a theft, but it is not at all the same thing.

The line has some very hexagram-3-esque ‘fertile confusion’ about it: the one hesitating, then driving the horses, must be the groom; then there’s an abrupt switch of point of view to the bride and her family, the ones who might mistake marital allies for robbers. And then it’s the woman’s constancy that answers that initial hesitancy. The two perspectives are stirred and mixed together, and by the end of this mini-story they’re united (allied, married…) in the promise of children to come.

There’s confusion, mistrust and hesitancy, but really no-one is defrauding anyone – they’re just finding their measure. Here, Hexagram 60 might be part of the issue, causing hesitation, but it’s also the solution: it works perfectly for the ‘child-woman’ to Measure the time, asking ‘Is this a good fit?’ and use her own growth and readiness as the standard.


‘Waiting in the bog
Invites the arrival of robbers.’

This is one of those lines that doesn’t actually say anything is wrong – there is no omen of misfortune or disaster – but perhaps it simply doesn’t need to, and being stuck in the bog and attacked by bandits speaks for itself.

(The word I’ve translated ‘invites’ is really clear and unambiguous, by the way: waiting in the bog brings about the arrival of robbers, it causes it. This is just how it works, says Yi: waiting in the bog means getting attacked by bandits, like a sedentary lifestyle means ill health.)

What’s the role of Measuring here?

There are many good interpretations of this line at the I Ching Community where people suggest that if you are stuck, you need boundaries – for instance, to set limits to the time and energy you will spend stuck in a boggy relationship. This makes sense. Ask yourself how long it feels right to wait for him to commit to the relationship. Set a limit to how long you will sit staring at a computer screen waiting for motivation to arrive. Have boundaries for those difficult conversations with your mother. Implement a debt-management plan. In all these cases, some wise Measure could prevent you from sinking further in, getting stuck and inviting robbers.

Often, ‘inviting robbers’ literally means inviting other people to exploit you. The fan yao, 60.3 changing to 5, says ‘No measure, and hence lamenting’ – and that could be a reminder that there are always bandits, people who don’t observe any shared measure, ready to take advantage.

So this line is suffering from a deficit of Measure… isn’t it?

Line 3 is on the inner threshold of the hexagram, preparing to cross over into the outer trigram. Or in the case of Hexagram 5, preparing to cross the river, as the Oracle says will bear fruit –
‘Waiting, with truth and confidence.
Shining out, creating success: constancy brings good fortune.
Fruitful to cross the great river.’

The idea is to express your confidence that what you need is coming towards you, by moving towards it yourself as far as you can. So why is this line sitting in the mud instead of crossing the river?

I think this can be because it’s Measuring.

There was a chivalrous convention in early China, possibly current when the Yi was written, that you didn’t attack an enemy chariot when it was stuck in the mud. So it would seem safe to wait in the mud, relying on these shared Measures – and besides, if you managed to drag yourself free and rejoin the fray, it might only make matters worse.

Except, of course, that out in the real world, not everything or everyone will observe your Measure. Besides, Waiting is a state of trust, which – like the Repeating Chasms – isn’t quantifiable. (Sinking deeper into the mud seems quite similar to entering into the pit within the chasm – it all gets deeper and damper and more stuck.) Waiting calls for a wholehearted commitment to crossing rivers, not for negotiation – ‘I’ll trust it this far, I’ll be devoted this much, I’m sure everyone will agree this is reasonable.’

So which is it? Are you getting stuck because of a lack of boundaries? Or is a desire to measure the immeasurable quality of Waiting getting you bogged down in negotiations or rationalisations?

In practice, I think it works both ways. This line needs Measure, but in its best sense – the organic internal boundaries of growing bamboo, not unexamined conventions like ‘I always sit at the computer to work from 9-5’ or ‘good children spend time with their ageing parents’ or ‘a faithful lover waits forever’ or indeed ‘no-one attacks a chariot when it’s stuck’. Those conventions all bring the expectation (or demand) of a reward – inspiration, a loving mother, a happily-ever-after… – when the real world is probably not going to abide by those rules. Look out for bandits, and rethink.


‘Negotiating opening, not yet at rest.
Containing the affliction brings rejoicing.’

I find this line begins with pressing anxiety. The pressure started with the paired line, 57.3
‘Subtly penetrating with urgency – shame.’

Now that feeds into the atmosphere here: deep unease about something open-ended and unresolved. Perhaps this is about bartering – the word translated ‘negotiating’ also means trade, business and merchants. (‘You throw in goat and the chicken and we have a deal!’) But then again, this word is actually Shang: the name of the dynasty who became the enemies of Zhou; these might be fraught negotiations with a powerful military force.

This is another line where Hexagram 60 works two ways: as the source of the anxiety or as its solution. As I wrote before:
This is 58 changing to 60: Opening’s Measure and Limiting. Hexagram 60 draws lines, subdivides things, breaks them into segments like the bamboo stem. The line seems to show two ways ‘Opening with Measure’ could go: an anxious desire to nail everything down and set comprehensive terms (as I think also happens in 61.6 zhi 60), or breaking things down into manageable portions. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof; cross that bridge when you come to it; eat the elephant one bite at a time.

Containing the affliction’ looks to me like a direct allusion to Measuring, which originally means the joints that divide a bamboo stem into separate segments. That’s a good picture of limiting contagion, keeping issues or people compartmentalised instead of letting everything flow and blur together. It shows (amongst other things) a way to prevent anxiety from becoming infectious – to keep it from spreading to other people or into other areas of life.


‘Realisation nearing.
Right for a great leader.
Good fortune.’

The concept of ‘Nearing Measure’ is present here, but you need to dig into a couple of key words to make it visible.

What’s nearing? zhi, a character made of the components ‘arrow’ and ‘mouth’, so you can imagine it as words arriving directly at their target. It means understanding, insight, and also announcing, notifying. That is, it’s not only about knowing, but about coming to know: becoming aware of something, or making something known; recognising or revealing.

And ‘right for’ a great leader is ‘a great leader’s 宜 yi‘. This is one word with two meanings in the Yijing: ‘right’ or ‘fitting’, and also the Yi sacrifice to the earth. In the Oracle of Hexagram 62, this character pretty clearly means ‘fitting’ and not ‘Yi sacrifice’:
‘…A bird in flight leaves its call,
Going higher is not fitting, coming down is fitting.’

But in Hexagram 55, I think it means the sacrifice:
‘Abundance, creating success.
The king is present to it.
Do not mourn. A Yi sacrifice at noon.’

This was a sacrifice made to the earth by the ruler before a great venture, such as a military campaign. The character shows meats laid out carefully on the altar, each in its own delineated space.

You can imagine how the ‘fitting’ meaning could evolve from the name of the offering. When the heavens are telling you, through celestial signs, that it is the right time to act, then you respond with a sacrifice to reconcile your endeavour with the earth. You invite earthly alignment to match the alignment of the planets; you seek to make this the right place as well as the right time. Then your action will be truly fitting – or ‘commensurate’ or ‘congruent’, as the dictionary also suggests: it will be a good, measured fit. I think this is starting to feel 60-ish.

These two characters let us imagine a story for the line. We’ve been watching the skies for a celestial alignment – perhaps for many years – and now at last realisation, or notification, nears: the stars are telling us to act. So the great leader, standing at the centre of the trigram earth, responds with a Yi sacrifice. He enters into an agreement with the gods and spirits, and knows he will be acting at the right time, in the right place.

I reckon a contemporary reader of the oracle would have known yi in both meanings: they would be fully aware of the Yi sacrifice, but not limited to taking that literally. What’s nearing is a sense of rightness – which might mean new information, fuller insight, or just knowing that everything is lining up at last.

Hexagram 60 provides the measures by which we know this is right. It might feel like something of a Goldilocks moment: not too soon, not too late; not too much, just enough. As the fan yao says, it tastes sweet:
‘Sweet measures, good fortune.
Going on brings honour.’


‘Cockcrow rises to heaven.
Constancy, pitfall.’

The bird of this line could be a golden pheasant – a beautiful bird with a less-than-beautiful squawk. However, I find it hard not to imagine something like this:

Apparently there’s a Chinese saying that the cockerel’s crow rises to heaven, but he stays on the ground. Neither chickens nor pheasants fly particularly well.

Where does Measure come in? Logically, our cockerel is obviously in need of Measure. His Inner Truth is coming up against the limits of the real world, and needs to develop some sense of scale – of what size he really is, in the larger world. In other words, he needs the message that 62’s flying bird will bring.

However, in my experience this is another of those lines where Measure works both ways: it’s part of the problem as well as the solution.

Where Inner Truth meets Measure, I might start to use what I know to be true, inwardly, as my means of relating to the world at large – as if I could remake the world to my own measure, and make something true if I call for it with sufficient conviction. (Perhaps our cockerel is doing his affirmations in front of the mirror?)

I’ve seen people receive this line who were trying to force a connection, or summon a relationship into being, with someone not capable of responding. As with other sixth lines, this isn’t particularly the sign of a bad, selfish or even necessarily an arrogant person, just one who’s somewhat out of touch with reality.


As relating hexagram, Measuring works things out. It stops, it reflects, it rolls the situation around in its mouth to find how it tastes. It tries to see how much, how far, how long, where to draw lines. And – especially – it tries to go from intimate subjective experience to shared measures. Measuring, we look to our own experience as touchstone for what will be enough but not too much.

Sometimes this attitude helps, sometimes it’s a trap, and often it can do/be both. Each primary hexagram engages and deals with issues of Measure – which very often seems to be an issue of how subjective knowing (the way you know how something tastes) meets objective reality. It might, as at 19.5 or even 3.2, do so in perfect harmony; then again, it might not be so easy.


Clarity Supporter
Sep 20, 1970
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And to think I was happy with the WikiWing entry 😋 (pun intended)
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