1. The decisions refer to the images. The judgments on the lines refer to the changes.
King Wen's decisions (judgments) refer in each case to the situation imaged by the hexagram as a whole. The judgments appended by the Duke of Chou to the individual lines refer in each instance to the changes taking place within this situation. In consulting the oracle, the judgment on the line is to be considered only when the line is question "moves," that is, when it is represented either by a nine or by a six (cf. explanation of the method of consulting the oracle in the appendix).
2. "Good fortune" and "misfortune" refer to gain and loss, "remorse" and "humiliation" to minor imperfections. "No blame" means that one is in position to correct one's mistakes in the right way.
This passage is an amplification of section 3 of the preceding chapter. Always making the right choice in words and acts means gain; failing in this results in loss. Slight deviations from what is right are called imperfections. When one does not know what is right and does wrong inadvertently, it is called a mistake. If we become conscious of these small lapses from the right and feel a wish to remedy them, we are moved by remorse. If we remain unaware of them, or if we have the opportunity to remedy them but are either unable or unwilling to do so, humiliation results. Mistakes are like rents in a garment; when a garment has been torn and one mends it, it is whole again. If we amend mistakes by a return to the right path, no blame remains.
3. Therefore the classifications of superior and inferior is based upon the individual places; the equalizing of great and small is based upon the hexagrams, and the discrimination between good fortune and misfortune is based upon the judgments.
The six places in the hexagram are distinguished as follows: The lowest and the topmost are, so to speak, outside the situation. The uppermost is superior; it is the place of the sage who is no longer involved in worldly affairs, or, under certain circumstances, of an eminent man who is without power. Of the inner places, the second and fourth are those of officials, or of sons or women. The fourth is the higher, the second inferior to it. The third and fifth are authoritative places, the former because it its at the top of the lower trigram, and the latter because it tis the place of the ruler of the hexagram.
"Great" and "small" signify firm and yielding lines respectively. They are equalized in the hexagram considered as a whole. Both can be favorable and indicative of good fortune when in their proper places, but the appropriateness of the places cannot be determined in the abstract; it depends on the character of the hexagram as a whole. The situation may frequently be such that yielding is advantageous; in that case a yielding line in a yielding place will be especially favorable, while a firm line in a firm place may be unfavorable. In many cases strength is required, and then a firm place is more advantageous for a yielding line. In other cases the situation may demand that character and place coincide. In a word, the specific distribution is determined by the hexagram in question, that is to say, by the situation it reproduces. Therefore the judgments are appended, to indicate the good or ill fortune arising from the situation.
4. Concern over remorse and humiliation depends on the borderline. The urge to blamelessness depends on remorse.
Remorse and humiliation are the results of a deviation from the right path and consequently always require a reversal of attitude. One can avoid both by being on guard in time. The point at which concern must set in, if one is to be spared remorse and humiliation, is that point at which good or evil has begun to stir in the mind but has not yet crossed the threshold into actuality. If at this moment one takes action and directs the movement in its germinal phase toward the good, one will be spared remorse and humiliation. If, however, a mistake has already been made, remorse is the psychological force heading to repentance and improvement.
5. This is why there are small and great among the hexagrams, and therefore the appended judgments speak of danger or safety. The judgments in each case indicate the trend of development.
Among the situations reproduced by the hexagrams there are some of ascending and expanding potentiality and some of descending, contracting potentiality. Accordingly, at some times one must be prepared for danger, while at others one may hope for safety and tranquility. In order to adapt oneself completely to the given situation, it is of great value to know these conditions. This is the function of the judgments: they indicate in each case the direction in which the situation is developing.