...life can be translucent

Menu

Blog post: Hexagram 63, Already Across (a beginning)

hilary

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
14,201
Reaction score
156
63 seems a good choice of hexagram to write about at the turn of the year, with its theme of endings-and-beginnings.
Hexagrams 63 and 64, of course, stand at the very end of the Yijing, and they deal with themes of completion and arrival – or not. Their very order in the Sequence – Already Across first, then ‘finally’ Not Yet Across – is a giant, Yi-scale joke. Despite all that’s been written about hexagram 63 showing everything complete, everything in its right place, it turns out to be all about how we are not*finished and had better keep moving and looking forward.
The name of the hexagram is ji ji, already across. As you can learn at LiSe’s site, the character for ‘already’ shows a man turning away from a food pot, already fed. And ‘across’ has two parts: the river, and a sign for what is neat, together, complete, like a field of grain ready for harvest. Together, the word means ‘cross a river’ and also to help or rescue. (Though I’ve yet to see the ‘rescue’ meaning in a reading – anyone?)
River crossing is a big, important image in the Yijing, of course, with the expression ‘cross the great river’ describing a significant and risky commitment. Crossing rivers in old China was perilous in general, not something you’d undertake if still unsure of your direction. And the image also has two more specific roots: one military, one *marital. The Zhou people had a great river to cross to enter the territory of the Shang regime they were called to overthrow. And*as part of marriage rituals, men and women would cross rivers to be with one another. Both of these provide useful ways of thinking about what kind of commitment ‘river crossing’ can represent in readings now – in the ‘cross the great river’ idiom, and in hexagrams 63 and 64.
So when you’ve crossed the river, you’ve made a commitment and come to a new place – and this means you have begun, not that you’ve finished. In readings, it points to something already decided or already present. Unchanging it can say, ‘This is not a real question, because you’ve already taken the decision.’ As primary hexagram, it draws your attention to the commitment you’ve already made: ‘here’s what you have to work with now’. And as relating hexagram, it often seems to be saying, ‘There is no external place where you could stand to look at this: you’re inside the process.’ It’s already running – something like a background process on a computer, or maybe like the operating system.
Because of this strong feeling that 63 is about something ongoing, Stephen Karcher in Total I Ching*actually translates the hexagram name as ‘Already Crossing’, and his first keywords for the hexagram are ‘begun, underway, in progress.’ There are two aspects to 63: something irrevocably decided, hence ‘complete’, and something ongoing, definitely not*finished.
The oracle of Already Across –
‘Already across, creating small success.
Constancy bears fruit.
Beginnings, good fortune.
Endings, chaos.’
– finds an echo in Song 255:
‘Mighty is God on high,
Ruler of his people below;
Swift and terrible is God on high,
His charge*has many statutes.
Heaven gives birth to the multitudes of the people,
But its charge cannot be counted upon.
To begin well is common,
To end well is rare indeed.’
(The words used for ‘beginning’ and ‘ending’ are the same, and ‘charge’ translates ming, mandate.)
After this thundering exposition, the remaining verses of the song recount the warnings of King Wen of the Zhou to the corrupt Shang, telling them to mend their ways. He concludes ominously, ‘A mirror for Yin [ie Shang] is not far off; It is the times of the Lord of Xia.’ The Xia had begun well, and ended badly, ousted by the Shang when they fell into corruption. Now the Shang had gone the same way and would suffer the same fate at the hands of the Zhou.
So the Shang found their mirror in the Xia. Now in Hexagram 63, the Zhou have crossed their river and begun well… could they too have a mirror? A hint might be found in the paired lines 63.3 and 64.4 (one of the most clearly ‘mirrored’ line pairs in the book):
‘The high ancestor attacks the Demon Country.
Three years go round, and he overcomes it.
Don’t use small people.’
‘Constancy, good fortune, regrets vanish.
The Thunderer uses this to attack the Demon Country.
Three years go round, and there are rewards in the great city.’
The high ancestor was a Shang ruler who subdued the Demon Country (Guifang); the Thunderer most probably a Zhou general working for a subsequent Shang leader, who had to subdue them*again.
The Zhou have fought bravely, crossed the river, assumed the Mandate of Heaven… now what?
‘Beginnings, good fortune.
Endings, chaos.’
But in practice, this isn’t a doom-laden, ‘It’ll all go pear-shaped in the end’ – it’s better read as an alternative: if you are beginning, good fortune; if you are ending, chaos. The Tuanzhuan*(Commentary on the oracle) elaborates:
‘Auspicious at the beginning, softness gains the centre [there’s a broken line in the second place]. Stopping at the end means confusion; this dao is exhausted.’
It’s the stopping*that creates the disorder. If you decide to stand still when you’ve scrambled half-way up a muddy river bank (see line 1!), there’s only one outcome. And conversely, there is a sense that moving forward is what creates the path, so that as soon as you stop moving, the path runs out.
So in readings this can say – never lose your momentum. Always be beginning.
However, it can also say – expect mess, because only beginnings can be tidy. (It doesn’t say ‘endings, pitfall’, after all.) The character for ‘beginning’ shows a knife cutting cloth: for me, it’s that lovely moment, usually at the beginning of the year, when I plan things out and can see with perfect clarity the shape I intend to create. I achieve inbox zero, I work efficiently, I have beautiful insights.
And then item 59 on the 132-item checklist turns out to be something I haven’t the foggiest how to do, and items 60 through 70 make like enthusiastic bunnies so it’s really a 337-item checklist, or maybe more, who on earth knows? and I lose heart and grind to a halt and end up covered in river-mud by February. (Looking through my journal, I do mostly get 63 as primary hexagram about work. I’m still learning to be always beginning… *appropriate, I suppose…)
The decision, however epic it feels at the time, is the easy part.
The trigrams provide another way to relate to th

(Capybara © Nuzza | Depositphotos)*
 

Liselle

Supporter
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 1970
Messages
5,639
Reaction score
115
Those naughty capybaras...rolling in mud and eating trigrams...


(The article seems to have gotten cut off in mid-sentence at the end.)
 
S

sooo

Guest
Which reminds me of the Tibetan and Navajo sand paintings and mandalas, which always leave the final detail unfinished. J. Campbell said it was because this was something of a divine nature or mystery, which (technically) man should not be meddling with.

(Though I’ve yet to see the ‘rescue’ meaning in a reading – anyone?)
In a reading, I recall only once, but in the 63 meaning to 'give it to God or the gods', as in the case of healing or crossing a great water, yes. I once told an account here of crossing a great lake during a severe incoming storm, white knuckled ride in a small craft, and it wasn't the only time I called on the divine to rescue me and bring me across the abysmal waters. In fact, I think that's a common occurrence, even among atheists.
 

cjgait

visitor
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
276
Reaction score
0
Repost from what I said on the blog comments:

I can’t speak to encountering ‘rescue’ for the character Ji in a reading, but the meaning of help, benefit, rescue is certainly valid and the Hanyu Da Cidian (largest Chinese dictionary, similar scale to the OED), cites the Great Treatise for an instance of Ji in the help/benefit sense:

断木为杵,掘地为臼,臼杵之利,万民以济,盖取诸小过。
They cut wood and fashioned it into pestles; they dug in the ground and formed mortar’s. Thus the myriads of the people received the benefit arising from the use of the pestle and mortar. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Xiao Guo (the sixty-second hexagram).

Looking at the overall body of pre-Han and Han literature the term JiJi 既济 is found mainly in the Yi as the hexagram tag. In the Zuo Tradition of the Spring and Autumn Annals it is used a few times, all uses as ‘crossed a river’, such as in Duke Xi, Year 22, where the foolish Duke Xiang of Song lets the enemy cross the river completely before attacking.
 

Liselle

Supporter
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 1970
Messages
5,639
Reaction score
115
Quite sure that was intenti
Why on earth woul

...oh. :D

(Am torn between "that is SPLENDID," and "but I am bad at trigrams, and I want to know about them :hissy:!")

Maybe at least this proves some of us got the general idea (and others of us can eventually get it if it is put directly in her face :eek:).
 

Liselle

Supporter
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Sep 20, 1970
Messages
5,639
Reaction score
115
(Am torn between "that is SPLENDID," and "but I am bad at trigrams, and I want to know about them :hissy:!")
Look at the title. *peers around for hexagram 29 lurking*

(Was clearly much too quick to think I'd caught on :rofl:. "Gotcha of the Year" may have to be awarded on January 6th already...)
 

hilary

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
14,201
Reaction score
156
Those naughty capybaras...rolling in mud and eating trigrams...


(The article seems to have gotten cut off in mid-sentence at the end.)
Quite sure that was intenti
Of cuosre.

(Though I definitely plan on getting to the trigrams in a subsequent post...)

Repost from what I said on the blog comments:

I can’t speak to encountering ‘rescue’ for the character Ji in a reading, but the meaning of help, benefit, rescue is certainly valid and the Hanyu Da Cidian (largest Chinese dictionary, similar scale to the OED), cites the Great Treatise for an instance of Ji in the help/benefit sense:

断木为杵,掘地为臼,臼杵之利,万民以济,盖取诸小过。
They cut wood and fashioned it into pestles; they dug in the ground and formed mortars. Thus the myriads of the people received the benefit arising from the use of the pestle and mortar. The idea of this was taken, probably, from Xiao Guo (the sixty-second hexagram).

Looking at the overall body of pre-Han and Han literature the term JiJi 既济 is found mainly in the Yi as the hexagram tag. In the Zuo Tradition of the Spring and Autumn Annals it is used a few times, all uses as ‘crossed a river’, such as in Duke Xi, Year 22, where the foolish Duke Xiang of Song lets the enemy cross the river completely before attacking.
Oh, that is interesting, thank you! I didn't know that the 'receiving the benefit' there was ji. I wonder if this ties in somehow with the Sequence, where going beyond (guo) is said to imply crossing rivers. (I can't see how at all, but that doesn't prove anything...)

sooo said:
Which reminds me of the Tibetan and Navajo sand paintings and mandalas, which always leave the final detail unfinished. J. Campbell said it was because this was something of a divine nature or mystery, which (technically) man should not be meddling with.
That's quite reminiscent of the 63-64 joke, isn't it? Though I think of that not so much as 'don't meddle' as 'this is where you live'. The opposite extreme from the pure original forces of 1 and 2.

I hope you like the capybara. I could have had an elephant or buffalo on a muddy bank with the river still in view, but I prefer the capybara's expression.
 
S

sooo

Guest
That's quite reminiscent of the 63-64 joke, isn't it? Though I think of that not so much as 'don't meddle' as 'this is where you live'.
Joe's implication was clearly that completion of the image was dangerous ground. I'd mentioned in a post not long ago (sorry, forgot exactly where) about the Navajo men who were creating such a sand painting at a NYC art museum and the curator pleaded with their leader to, just this one time, bring the creation to completion, whereupon he and the others laughed. He then explained that if they completed the painting, every woman in Manhattan would wake up pregnant the next morning. It is funny to think of it, though I don't think all those women would think so. :eek:

I wasn't sure if the capybara was still alive or had drowned. I'm still a bit haunted by that image of the fox beneath the river ice, that Tom had posted awhile back.

I did enjoy your giant Yi-scale 63-64 humor though, and appreciate your blog post overall.
 

hilary

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
14,201
Reaction score
156
The capybara is in excellent health, thank you! She just doesn't entirely see the advantage in trying to get out of the mud right this instant.

Interesting point about the perils of sand painting - though that seems to belong at the other end of the Sequence!
 
S

sooo

Guest
The capybara is in excellent health, thank you! She just doesn't entirely see the advantage in trying to get out of the mud right this instant.

Interesting point about the perils of sand painting - though that seems to belong at the other end of the Sequence!
Well that's a bit of a relief.

Other end being 64? Yes, for sure. It's not limited to sand paintings, however. Even LiSe's 64 speaks to the power of art being in the suggested rather than the completed. I guess that does fall into the as yet joke of 63-64, since what hangs on the wall is a completion of what is only suggested.
 

Clarity,
Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
London.
W1A 6US
United Kingdom

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

Top