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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

57: Gentle Penetration

Gentle Penetration

The situation suggests a subtle penetrating effect, like a wind blowing through some reeds that are bending softly, symbolizing flexibility and endurance. Here we have quiet, relaxed effectiveness in action. A gentle influence is at work, but just as the wind is ceaseless in its efforts, small forces can add up to produce lasting results.

Gentle penetration bodes well for new relationships. Just as a summer breeze slowly penetrates the woods to cool the forest, the ideas of gifted leaders slowly reach the minds and sink into the hearts of the people. In personal relationships, a gentle beginning can lead to a long-lasting union.

When employing a force that is gentle but persistent, careful aim is necessary, for only when a small force continually moves in the same direction will it have much cumulative effect. In human affairs, this kind of soft influence comes more through strength of character than by any direct confrontation or seduction. It’s important to have, and stick to, clearly defined goals. Maintaining a strong vision and following a steady course of least resistance often brings good fortune.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Inborn gentleness can have indecision as a side effect. This situation points to a case of a gentle spirit drifting into quandary, becoming filled with doubt. When the rudder of personal will flaps back and forth with no clear direction, it must be grasped firmly, and brought back on course. External discipline may be necessary to accomplish this.

Line 2

When dark forces seem to be undermining your best plans, trace the shadows back to their source, and gently expose them to the light. Openness and honesty will succeed, but only if you are honest with yourself first. Search your heart and mind for the hidden enemies of self-pity, pride or a rigid view of what “should” happen. An excess of feelings -- either hard and arrogant, or soft and self-indulgent -- obstructs progress and saps your strength. By gently bringing negative inner feelings to the light of day, you can rob them of their power over you. Do so, and good fortune awaits.

Line 3

Even a gently penetrating mind can be driven to excess. After having researched and pondered a serious decision, further deliberation may only lead to a subversion of the will. In such instances, an overactive mind may begin to use fresh doubts as a shield against taking needed action. When analysis becomes overheated, the will becomes paralyzed, and a weakness of purpose sets in. Great misfortune results.

Line 4

When responsibility, experience and energy are combined with modesty, the effects will be enduring, and success is almost guaranteed. When approaching difficult situations that require sustained effort to achieve the desired goal, keep these virtues in mind.

Line 5

A changing line in the fifth place indicates a situation in which things are far from perfect and a new direction needs to be taken. The beginning has not been great, even if it has not been horrendous. Some careful reform is in order, but don’t throw out the good with the bad. Be prepared to continue making changes and adjustments, until the situation is aligned with your purpose. Self-correction will bring you success.

Line 6 (top line)

When the quiet, penetrating power has reached its peak, both success and difficulty are indicated, for a certain loss of strength will also be coming about. If you penetrate deeply into a situation and discover the presence of strong opposing forces, you are practically helpless. In such a case, immediate withdrawal is the best course of action.