64. Wei Zi [Before Completion]
Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)
Wei Zi intimates progress and success (in the circumstances which it implies). (We see) a young fox that has nearly crossed (the stream), when its tail gets immersed. There will be no advantage in any way.
[Legge] Wei Zi is the reverse of Ki Zi. The name tells us that the successful accomplishment of whatever the writer had in his mind had not yet been realised. The vessel of the state has not been brought across the great and dangerous stream. Some have wished that the Yi might have concluded with Ki Zi, and the last hexagram have left us with the picture of human affairs all brought to good order. But this would not have been in harmony with the idea of the Yi, as the book of change. Again and again it has been pointed out that we find in it no idea of a perfect and abiding state. just as the seasons of the year change and pursue an ever-recurring round, so is it with the phases of society. The reign of order has been, and has terminated; and this hexagram calls us to see the struggle for its realisation recommenced. It treats of how those engaged in that struggle should conduct themselves with a view to secure the happy consummation.
How the figure sets forth the state of things by its constituent trigrams will appear in ['Great Symbolism,' below]. A similar indication is supposed to be given by the lines, not one of which is in the correct place; the strong lines being all in even places, and t he weak lines in odd. At the same time each of them has a proper correlate; and so the figure gives an intimation of some successful progress. See also [the 'Comments on the Thwan,' below].
The symbolism of the young fox suggests a want of caution on the part of those, in the time and condition denoted by the hexagram, who try to remedy prevailing disorders. Their attempt is not successful, and they get themselves into trouble and danger. Whatever can be done must be undertaken in another way.
Comments on the Thwan
1. 'Wei Zi intimates progress and success (in the circumstances which it implies):'—the weak (fifth) line is in the centre.
2. 'The young fox has nearly crossed the stream:'—but he has not yet escaped from the midst (of the danger and calamity).
'Its tail gets immersed. There will be no advantage in any way:'—there is not at the end a continuance (of the purpose) at the beginning. Although the places (of the different lines) are not those appropriate to them, yet a strong (line) and a weak (line always) respond to each other.
[Legge] Paragraph 1. The indication is derived from the fifth line, divided, which is in the ruler's place. It occupies a strong place, has for its correlate the strong 2, and is itself in the centre of the yin trigram Li.
Paragraph 2. Line 2 represents 'the young fox.' A strong line in the midst of the trigram of peril, its subject will be restless; and responding to the ruler in 5, he will be forward and incautious in taking action. The issue will be evil, and the latter end different from the beginning. What is said in the last sentence shows further how Wei Zi indicates progress.
(The trigram representing) water and that for fire above it form Wei Zi. The superior man, in accordance with this, carefully discriminates among (the qualities of) things, and the (different) positions they (naturally) occupy.
[Legge] In this last hexagram we have water below and fire above, so that the two cannot act on each other, and the Symbolism may represent the unregulated condition of general affairs, the different classes of society not harmonising nor acting together. The application follows naturally.
Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)
1. The first SIX, divided, shows its subject (like a fox) whose tail gets immersed. There will be occasion for regret.
[Smaller Symbolism] 1. 'His tail gets immersed:'—this is the very height of ignorance.
[Legge] I suppose a fox to be intended by the symbolism of line 1, bringing that animal on from the Thwan. Some of the commentators understand it of any animal. The line is weak, at the bottom of the trigram of peril, and responds to the strong 4, which is not in its correct place. Its subject attempts to be doing, but finds cause to regret his course. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Ku Hsi and others suspect an error in the text of paragraph 1; yet a tolerable meaning comes from it as it stands.
2. The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject dragging back his (carriage-) wheel. With firmness and correctness there will be good fortune.
[Smaller Symbolism] 2. 'The second NINE, (undivided), shows good fortune arising from being firm and correct:'—it is in the central place, and the action of its subject thereby becomes correct.
[Legge] The subject of line 2, strong, and in the centre, is able to repress himself, and keep back his carriage from advancing and there is good fortune. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] The Khang-hsi editors observe on paragraph 2 that an undivided line in the second place, and a divided line in the fifth place, are both incorrect, and yet it is often said of them that with firm correctness in their subjects there will be good fortune;—such is the virtue of the central position. This principle is at last clearly enunciated in this paragraph.
3. The third SIX, divided, shows its subject, with (the state of things) not yet remedied, advancing on; which will lead to evil. But there will be advantage in (trying to) cross the great stream.
[Smaller Symbolism] 3. '(The state of things is) not yet remedied. Advancing will lead to evil:'—the place (of the line) is not that appropriate for it.
[Legge] The Khang-hsi editors say that it is very difficult to understand what is said under line 3; and many critics suppose that a negative has dropt out, and that we should really read that 'it will not be advantageous to try and cross the great stream.'
4. The fourth NINE, undivided, shows its subject by firm correctness obtaining good fortune, so that all occasion for repentance disappears. Let him stir himself up, as if he were invading the Demon region, where for three years rewards will come to him (and his troops) from the great kingdom.
[Smaller Symbolism] 4. (By firm correctness there is good fortune, and cause for repentance disappears:'—the aim (of the subject of the line) is carried into effect.
[Legge] Line 4, though strong, is in an even place; and this might vitiate the endeavours of its subject to bring about a better state of things. But he is firm and correct. He is in the fourth place moreover, and immediately above there is his ruler, represented by a weak line, humble therefore, and prepared to welcome his endeavours. Let him exert himself vigorously and long, as Kao Zung did in his famous expedition (see last hexagram, line 3), and he will make progress and have success. Expeditions beyond the frontiers in those days were not very remote. Intercourse was kept up between the army and the court. Rewards, distinctions, and whatever was necessary to encourage the army, were often sent to it. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Khang-zze says:—'The subject of line 4 has the ability which the time requires, and possesses also a firm solidity. He can carry out therefore his purpose. There will be good fortune, and all cause for repentance will disappear. The smiting of the demon region was the highest example of firm correctness.'
5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows its subject by firm correctness obtaining good fortune, and having no occasion for repentance. (We see in him) the brightness of a superior man, and the possession of sincerity. There will be good fortune.
[Smaller Symbolism] 5. '(We see) the brightness of a superior man:—'the diffusion of that brightness tends to good fortune.
[Legge] Line 5 is weak, in an odd place. But its subject is the ruler, humble and supported by the subject of the strong 2; and hence the auspice is very good.
6. The topmost NINE, undivided, shows its subject full of confidence and therefore feasting (quietly). There will be no error. (If he) cherish this confidence, till he (is like the fox who) gets his head immersed, it will fail of what is right.
[Smaller Symbolism] 6. 'He drinks and gets his head immersed:'—he does not know how to submit to the (proper) regulations.
[Legge] The subject of line 6, when the work of the hexagram has been done, appears disposed to remain quiet in the confidence of his own power, but enjoying himself; and thereby he will do right. If, on the contrary, he will go on to exert his powers, and play with the peril of the situation, the issue will be bad. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Both the symbols in paragraph 6 indicate a want of caution, and an unwillingness to submit one's impulses to the regulation of reason and prudence.