63 Ji4 Ji4 既濟
The lower: Li (clinging, fire). The upper: Kan (the abyss, water).
Ji Ji: having already crossed a river or completed a task; in Ji Ji the masculine and feminine attain their designated positions, amicably and righteously dealing with each other; its norm is neither to pursue another success nor become inactive.
After having passed (Guo) through things (i.e. the preceding 62 hexagrams), it completes (the mission of unfolding Yi); therefore Ji Ji is granted. Ji Ji, the name of hexagram 63, means 'having crossed a river’ which refers to a mission or task having been accomplished.
In the I Ching, there exist many great rivers to cross, one after another. What did crossing a great river mean to people 3,000 years ago? A person stood alone before a great rolling river with a canoe or raft. The river was full of danger but he had to cross, which suggests that there must have been something very important to him on the other side. Troops must cross a great river to conquer the enemy, and a tribe must cross a great river to reach a holy place; all had critical influences for the future. Crossing a great river is an important but dangerous mission, but it must be done in order to attain a final goal. Therefore having crossed a great river is not only understood as the end of a great task, but also the start of undertaking what is planned for the other side.
Ji Ji forms after the middle lines of trigram Kun (submissiveness, earth) and Qian (perseverance, heaven) exchange their positions. Hereafter all six lines attain their right positions amicably neighbouring, and righteously correlating with, each other. This is like the masculine and feminine of hexagram Tai (11), which engage in a smooth, unobstructed, harmonious and peaceful interplay, developing to a most stable and perfect state.
The masculine and feminine have been seeking their optimal state all along the way since hexagram Qian and Kun. Finally they reach it. Although hexagram 63 is named Ji Ji, i.e. the mission having been accomplished and the river crossed, there exists another river of the upper trigram Kan in front. And this settled state also signifies that everything is fixed and that there will be no further change or progress. Hexagram Ji Ji is assigned to advise people what to do in these circumstances, and how.
The formation of hexagram Ji Ji leads to the creation of fire (of the lower trigram Li), and water (of the upper trigram Kan). Given the nature that fire blazes upward and ascends to the top while water flows downward and descends to the bottom, the hexagram will change to Wei Ji (64), not having crossed a river, nor completed a task yet. There the masculine and feminine are no longer at their right positions, yet still correlate with each other. Following that, they will start to seek the positions suited to them, respectively. Wei Ji is the reverse and changing hexagram of Ji Ji.
Text: Ji Ji (completion), (which can attain) smooth progress in small (matters); it is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist. It is auspicious in the beginning but will become disorderly in the end.
Commentary on the text: Ji Ji (completion), (which can attain small) smooth progress, (signifying) the small one will progress smoothly. It is advantageous (or appropriate) to persist, as (those of) rigidity and (those of) tenderness are righteous and stay properly at their positions. It is auspicious at the beginning, as (the one of) tenderness (i.e. the feminine line 2) attains the middle (position of the lower trigram Li). This will become disorderly when it ends with stop, as it is destitute of the norm.
The I Ching begins with masculine Qian and feminine Kun. After the masculine and feminine have undergone the permutations of 60 hexagrams in seeking their optimal state, finally they reach Ji Ji where all attain their designated positions.
The masculine and feminine attain their most stable and perfect state, signifying all settles down. It will become static if change is no longer required. Therefore it is advantageous to maintain what has been achieved by appropriately refreshing it, like feminine line 2, the small one, moderately progressing (from position 2 to 5 and then returning) so as to preclude the hexagram from becoming fixed. On the other hand, if one is too ambitious and pursues another success, the results will backfire.
Hexagram Ji Ji starts with the lower trigram Li, the brightness of which denotes civilisation, after the task has been accomplished. However it will reach Wei Ji (64) and end with disorder if one attempts to take another challenge to cross the river of the upper trigram Kan. Therefore it is auspicious in the beginning but becomes disorderly.
Commentary on the image: Water over fire; Ji Ji. A gentleman, in accordance with this, must contemplate the potential crisis (trouble or misery) to prevent it from occurring.
Fire is dry and hot, while water is wet and cold. Here water and fire relieve and aid each other to reach a state of balance and coexistence. The latter Ji (濟) in Chinese also signifies to relieve or to aid. In this way they generate steam and power.
However water tends flow downward, while flames blaze upward; water might extinguish fire, and fire might evaporate water; this implies a latent crisis. Therefore a gentleman must see the potential trouble in advance and prevent it from occurring.
Hexagram Ji Ji suggests success in terms of completing a task, and a happy ending in that all its lines obtain their right positions.
The mission has been accomplished; one should lower the sail as only a small task will progress smoothly when everything tends to be fixed. Therefore Hexagram Ji Ji suggests remaining in a fresh state and alert for a change in quality. On the other hand, it is advantageous to maintain what has been achieved without aggressively going after another success. Otherwise, it is auspicious in the beginning but will become disorderly in the end.
Hexagram Ji Ji possesses the virtues of slightly smooth progress, as well as advantage and persistence in the form of persistence bringing forth benefit, but excludes that of origination, signifying that one should focus on carrying out what was originally planned.
Its commentary on the image suggests that one should foresee the potential crisis and prevent it from occurring.
The changing hexagram is Wei Ji (64), not having crossed a river or completed. Crossing a river, i.e. overcoming difficulties to undertake what is intended, is a never-ending task with respect to on-going life goals; one must exert oneself and keep moving forward.
After the river has been crossed, the masculine and feminine finally accomplishes their mission, i.e. reaches the most perfect state that they have been sought. What is designated to do here is to maintain this state, without becoming overly static. However there is another river found in the upper trigram Kan above; unchecked ambition might follow success resulting in taking another challenge and ruining what has been achieved.
The line inevitably moves along the timeline toward the river; therefore the lines of the bright civilisation of the lower trigram Li should maintain what has been achieved and avoid pursuing another success. They should also foresee the crisis ahead and prevent it from happening. The lines in the river of the upper trigram Kan must remain alert and pragmatically tackle the crisis when they are plunged into peril. When line 6 reaches the end where the river of Ji Ji connects with the river of Wei Ji, the water of the river submerges its head.
The 1st line
Text: (The subject is in a state of) dragging back the wheel, (and) dampening the tail; (this is of) no calamity (or fault).
Hexagram Ji Ji has just been formed; line 1 at its initial stage should stay with what has been achieved, like a person slowing his pace and occupying himself with what was originally planned for the other side of the river; he should also avoid taking another challenge, so that he can be free from calamity (or fault).
The river of the new challenge is very wide, i.e. from line 2 to 6, which is covered by the inner lower and the upper trigram Kan. Dragging back the wheel signifies stopping the carriage from moving forward. The fox usually lifts its tail while wading; the tail is dampened even at position 1, the bank of the river. This signifies that the river ahead is very deep, and that the next part to get wet is its head if it keeps moving forward; this is a warning to the fox that it should not cross the river.
The inner lower trigram Kan is the wheel and is signified as to drag; line 1 stands behind it and correlates with line 4, which illustrates that it is trying to stop the carriage from moving into the river.
Commentary on the image: Dragging back the wheel, which signifies no calamity (or fault).
Enlightenment through nine one: Dragging back the wheel and paying attention to the warning of a dampened tail signify going about things steadily and surely. A person considers a crisis beforehand to avoid rushing forward; that way he can be free from calamity (or fault). Should this line change to feminine and not act according to what is right, the hexagram would become Jian3 (39), difficulty (in proceeding), where difficult conditions would result if the first step were wrong. The river has been crossed; one should concentrate on carrying out what was originally planned for the other side instead of taking another challenge.
The 2nd line
Text: A woman loses the curtain of her carriage; do not chase after it, as it will be retrieved in seven days.
Historically, carriages that women took were outfitted with curtains to ensure privacy. The curtain is gone - do not chase after it, signifies that the carriage remains stationary even though it can move; it also suggests that it won't move forward crossing the river.
The curtain will return to position 2 after it moves forward and reverses at position 5, in 7 steps. This signifies that too much stasis can be avoided by means of the circling curtain, and suggests that the carriage can move again after the curtain is retrieved, but at the moment it must remain still.
Hexagram Ji Ji is formed after the middle lines of trigrams Kun and Qian exchange positions. The original upper trigram Kun is a carriage as well as cloth as the earth contains the whole of creation like cloth wrapping goods; therefore it is the curtain of the carriage windows. After Ji Ji is formed, the curtain of the upper trigram Kun disappears and the lower trigram Li, brightness, appears.
Ten represents a circle, with five as half. Seven is represented as two thirds the circle which in temporal terms means not very soon, but eventually. Seven also indicates a forward movement, reversing at position 6, to the next hexagram, signifying that the curtain will arrive at position 3 of hexagram Wei Ji (64). There it is advised that the situation becomes favourable for it to cross the river.
Commentary on the image: It will be retrieved in seven days, (which is) through the principle of moderation.
Dragging back the wheel (of a carriage) at position 1 signifies that there is an external force which prevents the carriage from moving forward. How can people refrain from action when they are so committed to taking on another challenge? Therefore the carriage keeps on moving forward into the river of the inner lower trigram Kan.
Line 2 is able to restrain itself from doing what it can, but should not do so as it possesses the principle of moderation. The principle of moderation is neither radical nor conservative. ‘Not radical’ means not being overly proud (after having successfully crossed the river) and moving further forward. ‘Not conservative’ signifies taking necessary action in order to maintain what has been achieved and to avoid stasis.
Enlightenment through six two: A female loses the curtain of her carriage; she should not go after it but remain still. After the curtain is retrieved and the road kept open, she can move again smoothly. This suggests that one should wait and keep oneself in a good state. The day will come, not too soon but before the end; then the situation will become favourable to move. The hexagram that appears while this line is activated is Xu (5), to halt and wait because peril lies in front.
The 3rd line
Text: Gao Zong attacked Gui Fang; (this took him) three years to conquer it. The villain should not be employed.
Gao Zong (高宗, also named Wu Ding 武丁) was the twenty-second king of the Shang dynasty, while Gui Fang (鬼方) was an unruly tribe. After three years of battle, King Gao Zong succeeded in conquering Gui Fang but the country was exhausted. To rebuild the country and avoid disorder again, he never employed the villains as they were the cause of the turmoil. Villains should be rewarded with fortune instead of government posts if they earned merit in battle.
After the curtain returns and the carriage moves again at position 2, line 3 reaches the top of the lower trigram Li, brightness and civilisation, but will enter the peril of the upper trigram Kan. This is a critical moment and turning point. One must be very prudent to maintain what has been achieved, and be mindful of potential crises to prevent them from happening.
Footnotes: Gao Zong was deprived of his inheritance and exiled as a commoner by his father when his father succeeded his uncle as king. After his father passed away, Gao Zong returned and took the throne but remained in mourning for three years which was considered proper filial behaviour. During that time he did not utter one word and left governance to his father's courtiers. After that he employed many virtuous and able people whom he met during his exile to bring Shang back to prosperity, and conquered the unruly tribes to restore its glory.
Commentary on the image: To conquer in three years, (signifying the country was or would be) exhausted.
After three years of war in the lower trigram Li (which denotes armour and weaponry), the line reaches position 3. Although King Gao Zong successfully conquered Gui Fang and reached the brightest state of civilisation, the country was exhausted. With trigram Kan next, he should avoid disorder from occurring, or recurring.
Alternatively, as the inner upper trigram is Li as well, the state above could be understood as: after a series of exhausting battles in the coming three years, the line will reach position 5. At that point, line 5 will be assessed to see if it is necessary and worthwhile to launch the war.
Enlightenment through nine three: King Gao Zhong attacked the unruly Gui Fang and took three years to conquer it. In rebuilding the exhausted country, he did not employ villains to prevent the same thing from occurring. Or, instead of abiding by the norm of Ji Ji, King Gao Zhong ambitiously sought another achievement. Even if he succeeded after a long struggle, the country would be exhausted and in peril. He should distance himself from villains to avoid himself becoming a tyrant. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated is Zhun (3), difficult to initiate, which advises against carrying out in haste what is intended. At this phase it is advantageous to enhance oneself by building a healthy and stable foundation for the future mission.
The 4th line
Text: Beautiful clothes are available but (the subject is) wearing rags (繻有衣袽), (signifying that it ought) to be alert for the whole day.
The line has left the lower trigram Li and steps into the upper trigram Kan. Though it is still within the inner upper trigram Li, i.e. possessing brilliant clothes internally, it is dressed in rags represented by the upper trigram Kan. The cloth of the original trigram Kun became frayed when it changed to Kan. No matter how bright, civilised or great one was, one must keep it internally and be alert the whole day as one is in peril.
The original meaning of 繻xu1 of 繻有yu3 (to have) 衣yi (to wear) 袽ru (rag) is coloured silk but it is also interpreted in some writings as 濡ru2 (to immerse), like that of line 1: 濡ru2 (to dampen) 其qi2 (its) 尾wei3 (the tail), and that of line 6: 濡ru2 (to soak) 其qi2 (its) 首shou3 (the head). The text can be understood as: the boat leaks while crossing the river, and rags for plugging it are available; one ought to be alert the whole day.
Commentary on the image: (Line 4 ought) to be alert the whole day, (because) there is something suspicious.
While the environment has been changing, i.e. peril emerging on the surface, one who is fully confident or lives a long time in bright civilisation without knowing what is going to happen must be alert. The upper trigram Kan signifies peril as well as illness of the heart.
Enlightenment through six four: Beautiful clothes could be worn out and become rags. Peril sneaks in; one must remain alert and prepare for a crisis. If this line changes to active masculine and does not act according to what is right, the hexagram will appear as Ge (49), revolution or reform. Here line 4 is the target to reform.
The 5th line
Text: The eastern neighbour slaughters an ox, (but it is) no better than the western neighbour performing a simple sacrificial ceremony, through which one will surely be blessed with good fortune (or solidness or reality is that which will benefit from good fortune) (實受其福).
實shi2 of 實受shou4 (to be blessed) 其qi2 (its) 福fu2 (good fortune) signifies something solid, real, honest, and true; in the I Ching solidity (實) is regarded as the masculine line. The above sentence can be understood as: the masculine, or the one who is pragmatic, or the one who acts honestly according to the true demand, will surely be blessed with good fortune.
When the middle lines of trigrams Kun and Qian exchange positions creating hexagram Ji Ji, line 5 reaches the peak of this great achievement, but also arrives at the middle of the upper trigram Kan, the river and peril. Therefore it must not be complacent but pragmatically face peril and deal with the crisis; then it will surely be led to good fortune.
Cattle are usually used in sacrifice at grand ceremonies, with swine used for simple ones. However, the quality of the ceremony and devotion depend most on the sincerity and trust of the worshiper. Sincerity and trust are the 實shi2 of worshiping, and essential in bringing about good fortune. The original upper trigram Kun represents cattle; the masculine line 5 changes it to trigram Kan denoting the pig as well as sincerity and trust. Therefore line 5 presides over the sacrificial ceremony at the king's position with sincerity and trust and will fulfil its duties righteously and moderately in a pragmatic manner.
The Shang located in the east of Dukedom Zhou. Dukedom Zhou is the one that worshipped with sincerity and trust. The great auspiciousness stated below in the commentary will come from Heaven and its own correct effort.
Commentary on the image: The eastern neighbour slaughters an ox, (but it is) no better than the timing of the eastern neighbour, by which one will surely be blessed with good fortune (or solidity or reality is that which will benefit from good fortune); tremendous auspiciousness will come.
Being pragmatic rather than over-conceited (at the king's position) when facing peril and dealing with a crisis is what will surely bring about good fortune. This is like sincerity and trust being paramount when worshiping Heaven and the ancestors, even in a sacrificial ceremony held to mark victory after a three year war.
Although Gao Zong was a very virtuous and talented person, the crown should have been transferred to his cousin after his father died. According to the hereditary system at that time, his cousin was the legitimate successor after the previous generation had filled the posts. This leads to a different interpretation of Gao Zong’s three-year mourning for his father’s death, i.e. his filial obligation used as an opportunity to gain a grace period in which to deploy his forces and avoid being overthrown. Should years of battle later on be just for quelling rebellion and establishing his empire, the day he worshiped Heaven and the ancestors to proclaim his victory and glory, a question arose: were his actions necessary and worthwhile, and would the result endure? If this is true, the upper trigram will become Kun (i.e. an ox for sacrifice, rather than sincerity and trust) when this line changes to Yin (i.e. a villain, symbolised by the feminine line). Then the hexagram will become Ming Yi (36): brightness being tarnished, where the sun sinks into earth, and virtuous people are hurt when a tyrant rules the country.
Enlightenment through nine five: The eastern neighbour slaughtering an ox for a splendid ceremony is no better than the western neighbour holding a simple sacrificial ceremony with sincerity and trust. This signifies that pragmatic attitudes and deeds, i.e. doing what is correct at the right time, bring good fortune, and are greatly auspicious. The hexagram that forms after this line is activated and changes to feminine is Ming Yi (36), brightness being tarnished. Here people are advised to remain civilised internally but tarnished externally, i.e. not outwardly showy but with real internal worth.
The 6th line
Text: (The subject is in a state of) soaking its head; (this is of) sternness and cruelty.
The fox ignored the warning of dampening its tail at position 1 and continues crossing the river in pursuit of another success. Here water submerges its head and it is plunged into a crisis; the situation becomes very stern and cruel.
Line 1 is the tail; here line 6 is seen as the head. The water of the upper trigram Kan reaching the head indicates a disorderly situation due to lacking the norm as stated in the hexagram text.
Commentary on the image: Soaking the head is stern and cruel; how can it last long?
Line 6 reaches the end of hexagram Ji Ji but is still in the river. The river of hexagram Wei Ji (64), i.e. not having crossed yet, is next; it must return to the riverbank or it will drown.
When hexagram Ji Ji has reached its end, all the six lines remain unchanging. If all are fixed, how can this last long?
Enlightenment through six six: Soaking the head signifies that one is completely plunged into a crisis; the situation is dangerous. If this line can change to masculine to break the stasis, the hexagram will become Jia Ren (37), the household, i.e. a haven and the safest place. Here its members rebuild a wealthy and prestigious family with concerted effort after having been hurt in Ming Yi (36) and retreated home. This is meaningful, particularly when the fox has lost everything at the end of hexagram 63.