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)

Most translators and interpretators regard feiren 匪人 as one word and read it as feiren 非人. Fei 匪 is a much used loan for fei 非. The Shanghai Manuscript and the Mawangdui Yijing both use 非 instead of 匪.  A feiren then is a bad person, a villain, or someone who acts out of resentment. The Zuozhuan tells about a battle between the state of Zheng 鄭 and the state of Song 宋  during which the state of Song was defeated and one of its officials, Hua Yuan, was imprisoned:

When the battle was impending,Hua Yuan slaughtered sheep to feed the soldiers, and did not give any to Yang Zhen, his charioteer. When the battle came on, Zhen said, “In the matter of the sheep yesterday, you were the master; in the business of today, I am the master.” With this he drove with him into the army of Zheng, which caused the defeat. The superior would call Yang Zhen a bad person. For his private resentment he brought defeat on his State, and destruction on [many of] the people. No crime could deserve greater punishment.
Zuozhuan 左傳 (tr. Legge p. 289, adjusted)

Feiren can also mean ‘to criticize others’:

Whoever criticizes others must have something to replace them. Criticism without suggestion is like trying to stop flood with flood and put out fire with fire.
Mozi 墨子 (tr. W.P. Mei; see also Ian Johnston, The Mozi – A Complete Translation, p. 147)

Although ‘bad person’ is a valid translation for feiren I read fei as ‘without’ because to me this seems to be one of the earliest usages of the word. This line might speak of an intention to bond but no suitable or willing allies are found. The fact that the text doesn’t conclude that the meaning of this line is bad or inauspicious (xiong 凶) while other ominous line texts do end with this conclusion also pushed me in this direction: if ‘bonding with bad people’ was the intended meaning I would expect the text to end with xiong. But the text just seems to state the fact that no allies are available at the moment. But I must confess I am still wondering if this is a plausible interpretation.  Lu Deming 陸德明 says in his 經典釋文 that the Yijing edition of Wang Su 王肅 (195–256)  has the character xiong 凶 added to the sentence. The excavated texts and the received text do not have this character so it is likely to be a later interpretation of the meaning of the line text, possibly based on the meaning of ‘bad person(s)’ for feiren.

Bonding without people.

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One Response to Hexagram 8, line 3

  1. Kevin says:

    Thank you – nice work.

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