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Blog post: Turning points

hilary

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Someone, some day, really is going to have to write a huge Yi book that not only describes individual moving lines with their zhi gua in mind – for example, writing about 27.6 with 24 in mind – but also describes groups of moving lines with their*zhi gua in mind. They will need to be a fair bit cleverer than I am. (Hm… I can think of a few people to ask…)

Here’s a connection I fell over by mistake the other day when looking at 55.3.4 changing to 24.

Hexagram 55 is Feng, Abundance, and the garrison city, and the place where there is a full solar eclipse at noon. When 55’s two inmost lines are changing, right at the centre of this experience, then we have 55 zhi 24 – literally, Abundance’s Returning, or Feng’s Turning Point.

At line 2, it was already midday, and so dark, so close to the eclipse’s totality, that we could already see the bright stars of the Dipper. Then at line 3 it’s still darker:

‘Feng is flooded with darkness
At midday, seeing a froth of light.
Your right arm broken,
Not a mistake.’

I’m one of those who thinks the ‘froth of light’ is probably the blurred, distant stars of the Milky Way. It also seems possible to me that now there isn’t just an eclipse, there’s also a thunderstorm. (For one thing, both the ‘flooded with darkness’ and the ‘froth’ characters have the water radical; for another thing, see the zhi gua of this line!) It could not possibly get any darker or more ill-omened – and to add injury to insult, you’re incapacitated. Oh, and this is not wrong. It’s just how it is; doesn’t mean the whole world is broken.

And then, in the second moving line of Feng’s Turning Point:

‘Feng is screened off
At midday, seeing the Dipper.
Meeting your hidden lord,
Good fortune.’

Now, again, we see the Dipper – the star we can use to orientate ourselves. We may still not be able to see to move, but we can understand what to aim for. And with this strange kind of inner clarity (again, see the line’s zhi gua), we can even plan to meet with a Yi lord, someone or something we’d never normally connect with, and create good fortune.

We’ve gone from being completely incapacitated to seeing an unlikely, possibly unwelcome way to create good fortune. The eclipse has gone from totality to just a glimmer more light. Hexagram 24 is the winter solstice, the darkest time of year and the moment when it begins to grow lighter; it’s also the moment when you begin to reconnect with your own inner sense of direction. So these two lines are Feng’s Turning Point – what could be clearer? (Honestly, anyone would think the people who constructed this Oracle knew exactly what they were doing or something.)

So… maybe any line or group of lines changing ‘hexagram x’ to 24 show ‘hexagram x’s turning point’. (And maybe one day I’ll learn to see this!)

With single lines it’s often more visible:

36 gets its turning point at line 3, when you go hunting and take the great leader – from which (just as in those lines of 55) it does not follow that you can instantly turn on the lights.

27 has its turning point at line 6, when you find yourself are at the source of nourishment, rather than seeking it, and so finally can cross the river.

2 has its turning point at line 1, when the season is turning and things are solidifying.

But multiple lines are trickier, and a pattern only starts to emerge for me when the original hexagram describes something – like an eclipse – that I can readily understand as having a turning point.

A couple more examples:

Hexagram 17, Following, has to do with sensing and going with the invisible flow of things (not least your own emotions or desires), and picking up on guidance as it comes. It changes to 24 through lines 4 and 5:

‘Following makes a catch. Constancy, pitfall.
With truth and confidence, holding to the path with clarity,
How can this be wrong?’

‘True and confident in excellence.
Good fortune.’

These are the only two lines in the hexagram to mention fu, truth-trust-confidence (as in the name of hexagram 61). Following’s turning point is when you establish fu, a sense of connection and rapport with your world so you can set your direction truly.

(Aside: this fu is not the same character as the fu that is the name of hexagram 24, but it’s a homophone, and I think I was once told by a scholar that 24’s fu actually replaces the trust-fu in the Mawangdui manuscript. I’m not sure of my memory on this, though, so I’m asking wiser heads for help and this paragraph may disappear if I turn out to be completely wrong…)

Another example: 41 changes to 24 with lines 2 and 6, the only two to include the phrase ‘not decreasing, increasing it.’ Of course the turning point of Decrease would be the moment when it changes its nature and becomes Increase.

(And then 42.5.6 to 24 should be just as clear, and can I ‘get’ that one? Can I thump. Anyone…?)
 

hilary

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(Aside: this fu is not the same character as the fu that is the name of hexagram 24, but it’s a homophone, and I think I was once told by a scholar that 24’s fu actually replaces the trust-fu in the Mawangdui manuscript. I’m not sure of my memory on this, though, so I’m asking wiser heads for help and this paragraph may disappear if I turn out to be completely wrong…)

I asked Harmen :D, and Harmen says:

"You are right. In almost all instances is fu 孚 replaced by fu 復. Only at H11-4 the MWD text uses fu 孚. At H58-2 it uses [言+孚] (unknown character). Deng Qiubo says it is originally written as [氵+虫+孚] (unknown character), which is supposed to refer to a small animal/insect that can float on the surface of the water (帛書周易校釋; p. 313)."
 

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