Hexagram 8, line 4


Wai 外: those outside the clan, not related by blood, ‘outsiders’, those with different surname. In oracle bone inscriptions wai was used as a prefix for former kings that were not from the direct lineal line (Liu Xinglong 刘兴隆, 新编甲骨文字典, p. 404) The expression waisun 外孫 referred to the children of one’s daughter: when a daughter married she took the surname of her husband and from that moment she (and her children) belonged to the other clan (金文常用字典, p. 700; 王力古漢語字典, p. 176).

In manuscripts from the Warring States period wai is also used as a loan for gui 禬: a sacrifice, ritual or prayer to dispel disasters and sickness (Bai Yulan 白於藍 (ed.), 戰國秦漢簡帛古書通假字彙纂, p. 527; 王力古漢語字典, p. 836-837; 漢語大詞典, Vol. 7, p. 966).

Some may wonder why I translate wai as ‘outsiders’ but choose to translate nei 內 in line 2 as ‘women (of the emperor)’ when ‘insiders’ would also be a plausible translation. My choice is decided by the structure of the sentences. Line 2 says


while line 4 says


In line 2 the joining/bonding comes from (zi 自) inside, the text does not talk about joining/bonding with inside. Line 4 however says that wai, ‘outside’ is joining.

Bi 比: see line 1.

Outsiders joining. Auspicious divination.

Hexagram 8, line 3


Bi 比: see line 1.

Fei 匪: ‘without’:

If the sovereign had not the multitude, there would be none to guard the country (for him)…
Shujing 書經 (tr. Legge)

How do we proceed in splitting firewood?
Without an axe it cannot be done.
How do we proceed in taking a wife?
Without a go-between it cannot be done.
Shijing 詩經 (tr. Legge)

Continue reading

Hexagram 8, line 2


Bi 比: see line 1.

Zi 自: (starting) from:

From the emperor to the common people…
(Mengzi 孟子, Lun Heng etc.)

Nei 內: its regular meaning is ‘inside, interior’, but in early texts it also refers to the women of the emperor (qiqie 妻妾, wife and concubines), the women’s quarters in the imperial palace, or women in general (漢語大字典 2nd ed., p. 111; 漢語大詞典, p. 995; 王力古漢語字典, p. 57):

Qing Feng of Qi was fond of hunting and drinking. He gave over the government [to his son] Qing She, and then removed with his harem and valuables to the house of Lu Pubie, with whom he drank, while they exchanged wives at the same time.
Zuozhuan 左傳 (tr. Legge, p. 541)

Even though the grammar and meanings in the sentence 比之自內 are pretty straightforward some translators are struggling to make sense out of it. For example, Lars Bo Christensen translates it as ‘Uniting with what comes from within is correct and good’, adding as a note ‘The question is what “from within” means. I don’t see any way you can connect physically with things from within, whether it be your body or an area.’ He totally misses the point that bi 比 is about people, persons, and that therefore a better translation of nei 內 is one that points to persons. His insertion of the words ‘with what comes’ is totally unnecessary and makes the translation not only wrong (these words are not in the Chinese original) but also more confusing.

In line 2 nei 內 might refer to allies that have a blood relationship with the wife of the king. Zi 自 means that the bond originates there.

Bonding via the empress.
The divination is auspicious.

Hexagram 8, line 1


About you fu 有孚 see here.

Bi 比: ‘assist, support’, ‘join (to support)’, to form a bond to reach a common goal, if necessary in a secondary position, to put yourself 2nd place:

(…) the King charged the Elder of Wu saying, “Lead your troops on the left in support of Father Mao.” The King ordered the Elder of Lü saying, “Lead your troops on the right in support of Father Mao.”
Ban gui 班簋 (殷周金文集成 4341; translation from R. Eno, Inscriptional Records of the Western Zhou, p. 30)

Roderick B. Campbell writes in his dissertation Blood, Flesh and Bones: Kinship and Violence in the Social Economy of the Late Shang (p. 117-118):

(…) the Shang king could (…) draw upon the coercive resources of allies, “meeting/joining” (bi 比) them for joint endeavours (Lin Yun 林沄, 《甲骨文中的方国联盟》, in 《古文字研究》第六辑, 1982):

51) 乙卯卜,殼 貞:王比望乘伐下危,受㞢  㞢 . (32)
Cracked on Yimao day, Ke tested: The King (should) join with Wang Cheng (to) attack Xia Wei, (for if he does) he will receive divine aid.

52)貞:叀   象令比倉𥎦. (3291)
Tested: It is Xiang (who the King should) order to join with the lord of Cang.

Campbell adds in a footnote,

There is some controversy over whether in inscriptions like the example above the graph I have transcribed should be read 比 (to join) or 从 (to follow/to cause to follow). The Jiaguwen Heji Shiwen, for instance, transcribes 比 as 从 in examples like (32). I, however, find Lin’s (1982) argument persuasive. Based on my own tabulations of oracle-bone political geography, there does indeed seem to be a real statistical difference between place/actors that the king “orders” as opposed to “joining with” or ordering subordinates to “join with” for military action. As Lin (1982: 78) notes, bi 比 “to join with” is never used for close subordinates of the king like Fu Hao 婦好, Que 雀, Zi Shang 子商 and so on.

About wujiu 無咎 see the third line of hexagram 1.

Continue reading

Message from the London Yijing Society

The Yijing / I Ching (易經 / 周易) has been studied over at-least two millennia and remains today a cryptic text of un-certain origins. Despite being an enigmatic text, it has attracted countless people throughout time across the world to investigate it for a variety of reasons. People are encouraged to study the Yijing / I Ching as a form of Divination for:-

  • Self-Cultivation – to develop positive attitudes when confronted with difficult situations. Constancy and calm in the face of adversity
  • Self-Knowledge – to learn to notice and be confident with our inherent wisdom

The London Yijing (I Ching) Society has been set-up following a discussion amongst a few friends who have studied the text over decades. It is to be a place for anyone interested in the subject and want to share their ideas and experience. The society aims to inspire people to use the text wisely and effectively or at the very least encourage a serious approach.

Historically the Yijing / I Ching has been studied and used by people from a wide-range of backgrounds and in the same way the Society will receive diverse members from all walks-of-life. We will hold meetings in Central London over tea and biscuits and if enough people are inclined we may even partake in one of London’s cosy public-houses.
Continue reading

Hexagram 8, Judgement


Yuan 原: many old commentaries say that yuan should be read as zai 再, ‘again’. But this meaning of yuan is quite rare. The Shanghai Museum Manuscript has 备 (not to be read as the simplified character of bei 備) instead of yuan. It is an abbreviation of the character yuan 邍 which is a known loan character of 原 (see 戰國古文字典, p. 1014; 古文字詁林, vol. 2, p. 454-455 and the Multi-Function Chinese Character Database). This also narrows down the possible meanings of 原. Continue reading

Hexagram 2, surplus text


Yong zhen 永貞: long-term (長久) divination:

Crack-making on day 15, Heji-248-10-character divines for my long-term prognosis.
(Heji 合集 248)

Several oracle bone inscriptions end with a character or phrase denoting the auspiciousness of the received oracle, like ji 吉 or da ji 大吉 (see for examples Heji 合集 27013, 27020, 27041, 27973, 28142, 28663). Sometimes we find the character yong 永 as such an end note, probably denoting an auspicious long-term divination (Heji 合集 6108 臼, 6527 臼, 6855 反, 10199 反, 17555 臼, 21381).

Favourable long-term divination.

Hexagram 7, line 6


Dajun 大君: ‘great ruler’, respectful title for the king:

大君若不棄書之力… (…)  惟大君命焉.
O great ruler, if you have not forgotten the zealous duty of Shu… (…) It is for you, O great ruler, to issue your command.”
(Zuo Zhuan 左傳, tr. James Legge, p. 491)

Tang, as well as Tai Jia, Zu Yi and Wu Ding were the great rulers below heaven.
(Kongcongzi 孔叢子)

Compare with a similar sentence in Yanzi Chunqiu 晏子春秋:

Now Tang, Tai Jia, Wu Ding and Zu Yi were the grand rulers below heaven.

You ming 有命: receive an order or appointment, often as a reference to tianming 天命, a mandate of Heaven to the (self-titled) ruler, but also used in a more general sense, ‘to receive an order (from the king)’.

Kaiguo 開國: establish a feudal state (建立諸侯國). The Shanghai Museum manuscript and the Mawangdui manuscript have qi 啓 for kai 開. The Shanghai Museum manuscript has bang 邦 for guo 國:

For qi bang 啟邦, “to open the country,” R (=the received text HM) reads kai guo 開國, kai 開 replacing qi 啟 to avoid a Han-dynasty taboo on the name of Liu Qi 劉啟, Emperor Jing 景 (r. 156-141 B.C.), and guo 國 replacing bang 邦 to avoid a taboo on the name of Liu Bang 劉邦, Emperor Gaozu 高祖 (r. 202-195 B.C.). M (= Mawangdui manuscript HM) reads qi guo 啟國, observing the taboo on the name of Liu Bang, but not on that of Liu Qi, while F (= Fuyang manuscript) reads as does the Shanghai Museum manuscript.
– Edward L. Shaughnessy, Unearthing the Changes, p. 78

The phrase qi bang 啟邦 is also found in a bronze inscription, where it is read as ‘to expand the country’ (金文常用字典, p. 361; see image in 殷周金文集成 15.9734).

Cheng 承:  continue a heritage (秉承). The Shanghai Museum Manuscript has cheng 丞, a common loan for 承.

Jia 家: ‘family’, but might also refer to the nation or country.

Xiao ren 小人: people of lower standard – commoners, those that are ruled instead of the rulers, those with narrow minds & views.

The great ruler received the order to expand the country and continue the nation he inherited. People of lower standard should not be used (for this).