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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

49: Revolution

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

In order to succeed, revolutions must be in alignment with certain laws of nature and good timing. They 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 — must 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 in one’s personal affairs.

Revolutionary change points to 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 modern science) will confirm. This hexagram reminds you to have the courage to radically change and renew the way you bring yourself 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; one can become aware of these cycles and master them by preparing in advance. In periods of drought, even wild storms are preferable to yet another sunny day. A new season awaits.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

At the beginning of a period of large changes, there is no need to hurry. You can restrain yourself a little bit, for the timing is not yet perfectly ripe. Events are just starting to take shape, and you never 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 such efforts have proven futile, revolutionary change may become necessary. Before attempting to institute sweeping changes, take time to imagine 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 right now could bring negative results. Even when change seems very necessary, it is not skillful to proceed with haste or ruthlessness, which could invite disaster. The opposite error lies in excessive hesitation, which is also not advisable, for not every demand for change in the existing order should be heeded. In any case, repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail to get a hearing. Examine and consider the situation thoroughly. Timing is especially important now. Do not be led astray.

Line 4

Making a radical change requires an appropriate level of authority. The emphasis is on unselfish motives and broad, mature views. Be especially wary of pettiness and narrow thinking. The image is of 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 living a quiet life.

Line 5

Fortune favors the bold and the stout of heart. Go ahead and make necessary changes; you know what to do. Don’t stand on ceremony, don’t consult the oracle, don’t call home for advice: Just do it! Fear not. 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, you must 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.