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Hexagram 64 - Wei Chi / Before Completion - James Legge Translation

hexagram 64
  • Above Li the Clinging, Flame
  • Below K'an the abysmal, Water


Wei Chi 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.

Meaning Commentary

Wei Chi is the reverse of Chi Chi. The name tells us that the successful accomplishment of whatever the writer had in his mind had not yet been realized. 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 Chi Chi, 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 realization 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 Appendix II. 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 the 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.

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.

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The Image

Fire over water: The image of the condition before transition. Thus the superior man is careful in the differentiation of things so that each finds its place.

Image Commentary

When fire, which by nature flames upward, is above, and water, which flows downward, is below, their effects take opposite directions and remain unrelated. If we wish to achieve an effect, we must first investigate the nature of the forces in question and ascertain their proper place. If we can bring these forces to bear in the right place, they will have the desired effect and completion will be achieved. But in order to handle external forces properly, we must above all arrive at the correct standpoint ourselves, for only from this vantage can we work correctly.

King Wans explanation

  1. Wei Chi 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 Footnotes on King Wans explanation

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 Chi indicates progress.

The Lines

The first SIX, divided, shows its subject like a fox whose tail gets immersed. There will be occasion for regret.

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.

The second NINE, undivided, shows its subject dragging back his carriage- wheel. With firmness and correctness there will be good fortune.

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

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.

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.

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.

Line 4, though strong, is in an even place; and this might vitiate the eendeavourof 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 eendeavours. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.