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I ching

Hsu (Nourished While Waiting)

I Ching Hexagram 5
Hsu (Nourished While Waiting)

Action: Patience

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 38 Opposition: Yield

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 35 Progress: Enlighten

Failure and success
come to test the depth and nature of your sincerity.

Too often man handles life as he does the bad weather;
he whiles away the time as he waits for it to stop. – Alfred Polgar

Reading at a Glance The time calls for remaining patient while in a holding pattern. Waiting can be done with patience or worry, it really doesn’t affect the outcome. All things take time to develop and the eventual outcome is never altered by your attitude while waiting. The journey however, is more enjoyable when you are patient. A lack of patience can lead to false starts, defeat and humiliation. Why not take a break and allow the situation to unfold? The nuclear trigram suggests a hidden influence of Opposition that causes a necessary delay. Yet, all of life is built upon the bringing together of opposites: high/low pressure systems, hot/cold weather fronts or positive and negative atoms clash and bring about something new. In order to fulfill the Progress required, a time of waiting is a way of allowing the elements of what you are seeking to move naturally to a conclusion. Perhaps you are waiting for something and need the time to explore sincerity about whether it is right for you. Use the time of waiting to re-evaluate your plan or to build up your reserves against any real future difficulty. A boiling pot won’t boil any faster by watching it and a farmer cannot harvest corn when the seeds are barely sprouting. All is progressing nonetheless. Balance your desire for an outcome with the natural cycle that nourishes it. Trust that when the time is ripe, the situation will embody the answer.

mother hen with chicks


is perfectly spaced

to hear the echo


your sincerity.

“Waiting: If you are sincere, you have light and success.” Hsu reveals the force of attraction that resonates from your beliefs. You are either nourishing a picture of success or failure. This time of waiting will give form and help you recognize which vision you choose to hold.

The master said: “it furthers one to Cross the Great Water.” When you are fearless in testing the waters of the unknown, “failure and success come to test the depth and nature of your sincerity.”

It may feel like you are in a holding pattern, although sincerity or realizing what is important to you is necessary before continuing. "Nature does not give up the winter because people dislike the cold." If you are on the right course, this will be a period of trial rather than defeat because if the circumstances are right for you, success is assured. The nourishment rests in learning to gauge the time just like a farmer.

The Creative stirs below the Abysmal Water in the image of planting a field, while waiting for rain. The blossoming will come in its own time and impatience brings about nothing, although the time of waiting can be a time of cultivating. When the world offers no response, you can hear the voice of your heart. This is your sincerity. You are being given the opportunity to reconnect with it.

Just as you test a rope by pulling on it, your sincerity is being tested against the tension of waiting to allow you to understand the nature and the correctness of your vision. Life always asks the same questions: are you growing?…is this really what you want? Hsu’s message is that in the field of action, you generally find all that you are seeking.

You cannot interfere before the time is ripe, but if “what you have planted is tended with sincerity, it will bear fruit. During the time of waiting, only the heart can reveal the answer.” Being forced to wait is the only way that you can validate the voice of the heart. Being forced to wait allows you to recognize whether your cultivate a positive or negative sense of attraction.

Sincerity is the root that keeps you connected to the germinating power of Tao. “When things are still small, you should not leave them without nourishment.” While you remain in a holding pattern, you imagine all sorts of scenarios. After a time of waiting only sincerity remains; if it is real, it will endure. Cherish this opportunity to re-explore whether you are on the right course and how you think. Nothing is wasted during a time of waiting.


Waiting in sincerity = time reveals the answer. We generally seek answers that have to do with the future or to ask about an outcome. This hexagram unchanging is a message that you may need to go without an answer or sense of direction specifically because this time of waiting is very important in allowing you to see whether your desire will really fulfill you. Rather than rush toward a future that hasn’t arrived, or focus on the outcome of the matter, how is this time of waiting changing you? How are events nourishing you? Sometimes this answer is as simple as ‘everything is still up in the air so just wait it out.’

Line 1:

Waiting in the meadow = abide in what endures. Changes to (48) Well. The situation is new and there is a sense that not enough attention has been paid to it yet, so put your head down and just do the work as the results will appear in time. The meadow or countryside shows a sense of distance from the end result so do not be threatened by a need to wait, which may take quite some time. Waiting allows you to connect with the sincerity of what you are doing to see if what you desire is actually nourishing.

Line 2:

Waiting on the sandy shore = the wasted energy of talk. Changes to (63) After Completion. You may feel a sense of being misunderstood or criticized, but the sandy shore is a message about watching the flow of water as a promise that things are still moving forward. There is also the idea of how actions speak louder than words. Instead of expending energy talking about what you will do, After Completion reminds you to just do it. This line is a message about finishing, but with the added warning to respect cycles. Just as waves come and go, chaos follows organization and opposition follows a solid structure, so be prepared to ward against it.

Line 3:

Waiting in mud = being stuck leads to vulnerability. Changes to (60) Limitations. You may feel stuck by the limitations others have imposed, or you have failed to abide by their limitations, which has brought matters to a stalemate. In either case, it is difficult to proceed because leaving seems impossible. Explore the idea of limitations to see if a win/win solution is possible. Patience, receptivity and a change in speed may be required.

Line 4:

Waiting in blood near danger = get out of pit. Changes to (43) Determination. This is a very difficult situation that might be unhealthy or dangerous. Determination can be a message to break free. Your words are falling on deaf ears because you are merely surrendering without giving up the argument. This can lead to the ‘bloodiness’ associated with battle. Either strive to see the validity of what you are arguing against, or leave the situation. Otherwise you are just waiting in a pit with no way to win.

Line 5:

Waiting with wine and food = enjoyment without forgetting the goal. Changes to (11) Peace. This line shows the most useful way of dealing with a period of waiting. You have a sense of peace and can relax and enjoy the time of waiting. As long as you hold fast to the goal, all goes well. Life is about more than just accomplishment so enjoy its simplicity and nourishing qualities.

Line 6:

Waiting in the pit = three uninvited guests arrive, respect them. Changes to (9) Small Restraint. You have a reached a critical point and have run out of the necessary resources to continue. The situation is not hopeless however. There is a need to either accept the help from unexpected quarters or bridge disagreements with an innovative approach. Three, symbolically is tied to the transcendental merging of opposites, moving away from an ‘either/or’ approach. The past way of doing things won't work. Perhaps the solution requires that you look for the middle way between extremes in your thinking. You are hoping for a certain outcome and not seeing that opportunity to bridge the impasse is already in the works. Look around you. How are you trading your future for the past?

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 5 unchanging Hexagram 5.1 Hexagram 5.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 5.2 Hexagram 5.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 5.3 Hexagram 5.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 5.4 Hexagram 5.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 5.5 Hexagram 5.5.6 Hexagram 5.6