49: Revolution

The elements of this hexagram are fire under water. Fire evaporates water, and water puts out fire. Similarly, change often causes conflict, and conflict brings about change. This hexagram refers to a time in the cycle of human affairs when things are stirring up and the hint of dramatic change is in the air.

In order to succeed, a revolution must be in alignment with the laws of nature and good timing. It must begin at the right moment, gather support from a broad base of people, be guided by sincere and capable leaders, and—most important of all—address a real need. The strength of the forces of change will always be in proportion to the urgency of the need being championed. This is true whether the revolution is in government, business, education, or your own personal affairs.

Revolutionary change ushers in a period when chaos arises from order. Let’s remember that not all order is good and not all chaos bad. Chaos is often an integral part of the way things evolve—as any parent and evolutionary science will confirm. This hexagram reminds us to have the courage to radically change and renew the way we bring ourselves to life. In this way, you can channel chaos to your cause and unleash a new power on behalf of the good. If engaging in a negotiation, change the rules; if composing a piece of music, add the unexpected; if courting a lover, dare to be unconventional.

Combat between forces of dark and light are cyclical; as such, one can become aware of these cycles and master them through preparation. In periods of drought, even wild storms are preferable to just another sunny day. A new season awaits.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

At the beginning of a period of big changes, there is no need to hurry. You can restrain yourself a little bit, for this line indicates that the timing is not yet perfectly ripe. Events are just starting to take shape, and we cannot know precisely what form will solidify in the end. In great revolutions, the first wave of leaders is usually killed; it is the second wave that endures. Premature action can lead to misfortune.

Line 2

When an honest attempt has been made to bring about reform but these efforts have proven futile, revolutionary change may become necessary. Before attempting to institute sweeping changes, take time to visualize in some detail what outcome you hope to achieve. Only by clearly perceiving the nature of a desired goal can the goal ever be achieved.

Line 3

Initiating action at this time could bring negative results. Even when change seems very necessary, it is not skillful to proceed with haste or ruthlessness, as it could invite disaster. Even though not every demand for change should be heeded, an opposite error lies in excessive hesitation, which is also not advisable. Repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail to get a hearing. Examine and consider the situation thoroughly—timing is especially important. Do not be led astray.

Line 4

Making a radical change requires the appropriate level of authority. The emphasis is on unselfish motives and broad, mature views. Be especially wary of pettiness and narrow thinking. Visualize institutions in which certain values need to be changed, stressing justice as opposed to hypocrisy. Good luck, promotion, and success are indicated, especially if you are in a relatively humble position or you are living a quiet life.

Line 5

Fortune favors the bold and strong of heart. Go ahead and make necessary changes—you know what to do. Don’t stand on ceremony, don’t consult an oracle, don’t call home for advice; just do it! And fear not, for you will meet with success.

Line 6 (top line)

A major objective is being reached; only the fine-tuning remains. Although you may see limitations in the changing situation, do not depress yourself by striving for perfection. Try to find satisfaction in what is possible. The happiest person is the one who passionately desires what he or she already possesses.