The changing lines
Continuing from my previous post: Yi’s answer to ‘How to use the Sequence in readings?’, 25.4.6 to 3…
´There can be constancy.
Line 4 is just across the threshold between inner and outer; it’s just stepped out into the world. So – in any hexagram – it tends to ask questions like, ‘What can I do here?’ – which is very much what I was asking. You can imagine that ‘What can I do here?’ might potentially be an awkward question to ask in the midst of disentangling. But the answer’s very simple: you can persist; you can be steady and carry it through.
Also (and originally), zhen, constancy, means divination. Hence the line also means ‘divining is possible’ or ‘there is consent for divination’. As an answer to this question, of course, the two meanings converge. How to use the sequence in readings? To allow divination; to allow you to carry a reading through steadily.
I can recognise the significance of the sequence ‘allowing divination’, because it’s often essential to help the querent recognise where they are. Without that recognition, without being able to orientate and find oneself in the reading, divining is not possible.
This line is how Without Entanglement joins with Hexagram 42, Increase and Blessing. If you look across at the oracle of 42, or if you trace the line pathway (25.4, 42.4, 41.3, 26.3) you’ll see that, although both hexagrams of this reading warn against having a ‘direction to go’, this line opens the way for it eventually to become fruitful after all (in 26.3).
How could that happen? Through independence of movement (41.3, 26.3), you can move to the centre (42.4) – where you have the best view of the whole periphery – and inspire the trust (41.3, 42.4) necessary to create your own direction (42.4, 26.3). This makes me imagine the cast hexagram as a ‘centre’ from which you can survey the surrounding Sequence-landscape – not with a view to seeing what must follow (better to walk alone, and train your horses to separate from the herd), but to build that understanding that makes divination possible.
Line 6 is quite different. Sixth lines in general, with their lofty vantage point, may be somewhat removed from the action. But that can go too far:
‘Without entanglement. Acting brings blunders.
No direction bears fruit.’
If that had been the only line in my reading, I wouldn’t have spent the past month working on the Sequence! But as it is, it stands in straightforward contrast to line 4: do that, don’t do this.
I associate this line with ‘disentangling’ taken to excess, so it becomes completely disengaged. A favourite personal example: the time I forgot all about the stock I’d left boiling on the stove to reduce. Acting completely without entanglement, so disengaged from the action that you’re not aware of what’s going on at all, means blunders. (Also one smoke-filled kitchen, one charred, gelatinous lump, and no stock.)
What would be the equivalent blunder in using the Sequence in readings? I think that would be using it to disengage from the reading’s present reality. The zhi gua for this line is hexagram 17, Following, which suggests things unfolding as if on a pre-ordained course – so we can just follow along. But you can follow along without divining; divination is for something else.
Another way to say this: the Sequence might be used to tell stories, but when you divine, you’re the protagonist, not the narrator.
This line’s pathway – 25.6, 17.6, 18.1, 26.1 – has a theme of attachment and inevitability (in 17.6) but also of being able to break the pattern (18.1, 26.1). The Sequence shows how the hexagrams are connected, how they naturally unfold one after another – but it does not tell you about the future; you do the telling. And if it leads you to distance yourself from the divinatory crossroads-moment, then acting brings blunders and no direction bears fruit.
Coda: what can I learn from the Sequence about this reading?
Without Entanglement follows from Returning: ‘Returning, and so truly Without Entanglement,’ says the Xugua, as if this were too obvious to need explanation – which, to the authors of that Wing, I dare say it was…
Perhaps being able to turn round – or simply to be still at the turning point for long enough to sense your right direction – is tantamount to being disentangled. Returning travels freely to and fro, going out and coming in, meeting partners and turning round at the right time. It’s a combination of free movement and knowing where and when you are – which is itself reminiscent of the Sequence.
Another way to look at this Sequence is through the trigram change: from thunder under the earth, to thunder joined with heaven. The inner zhen (initiative, creativity, will to act, spark of life…) is first nurtured within the earth – so you can be receptive to its guidance in your going out and coming in – and then becomes a means of connecting with spirit. (That yang line at the root shares its nature with the outer qian and naturally moves with it.)
This actually reminds me of the idea that intuition as a bodily awareness might be the beginnings of a connection to the divine – or at least that it depends on the same inner ‘wiring’. The Sequence offers more than one way of knowing where you are.
This inner zhen is also part of a bigger pattern in the Sequence. You could say its prologue is in 17 (thunder in the lake), its grand opening is in 19 (which is like the trigram zhen writ large, with each line individually doubled), and then its development travels through 21 (thunder below fire), 24 (thunder in the earth) and 25 (thunder under heaven), to culminate in 27 (thunder joined with its inverse, mountain).
That’s a very interesting pattern, but what does it tell us about Without Entanglement?
Faced with a question like that, I like to keep it as simple as possible. Inner thunder is experienced through a range of different outer trigrams, so this region of the Sequence might explore questions like,
- How does the spark of life interact with different contexts?
- How can it be guided and respond to them?
- How can you be present from the inside out? (The theme that appears larger than life in Hexagram 19, Nearing.)
All this still has to do with knowing where you are.
A good question to ask to get back from these generalisations to the specific reading received: what’s different and new here? What does Hexagram 25 do that wasn’t done before? Well… 25 specifically connects zhen, the life impulse, with qian, the absolute. From the Foundations Course:
“When qian is the outer trigram, there might be a sense of coming face to face with How It Is and being challenged by absolutes of nature (including human nature). These hexagrams ask questions like, ‘What does this truth require of you? How can you respond to it?’ As you recreate your relationship to How It Is in accordance with the inner trigram, you might also be able to reconnect with its power, becoming a wiser leader, more influential ruler, more awe-inspiring hermit, and so on.”
And in Hexagram 25, you might have a much enlarged and deepened sense of where you are. Joining inner thunder with outer heaven turns out to mean spontaneity and true alignment.
And Hexagram 3? According to the Xugua, this is where the Sequence begins. Hexagrams 1 and 2 are the ‘gates’ into the narrative; they’re not part of the story, more like the stuff it’s made of.
‘There is heaven and earth, and so the ten thousand things are born.
To fill the space between heaven and earth to overflowing, the ten thousand things.
And so Sprouting follows:
Sprouting means filling to overflowing;
Sprouting means the beginning of things’ birth.’
And, of course, Hexagram 3 also has thunder as its inner trigram. Thunder is the ‘firstborn’ trigram of heaven and earth, where the story begins. I’ve described 25’s inner thunder as the culmination of a kind of story whose prologue is in hexagram 17 – but if you keep looking back through the Sequence for the origin of this story, you find the only preceding inner-thunder hexagram is 3.