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I ching

Lǚ (Treading)

I Ching Hexagram 10
Lǚ (Treading)

Action: Cautious Advance

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 37 Family: Support

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 15 Authenticity: Balance

Participate with life; do not mystify it.

Use what talent you possess; the woods would be silent
if no birds sang except those that sang best. – Henry Van Dyke

Reading at a Glance: At some point in our journey, we begin to wonder about our life path. We look for meaning and notice the signs around us, paying attention to our dreams and flashes of insight. We begin to have a sense of being led and we find meaning. Spirituality isn’t a way to avoid punishment or to do right. It is how we begin to open to the way life guides us and therefore, our footsteps become more cautious and self reflective. Each individual has an entirely different purpose, so looking to the path of others might get you lost. The idea of Family is also at play, suggesting that even among family members nature endows each with unique variations to ensure that competition for short supply is minimized in close proximity. We see cycles that come and go, and we begin to identify a pattern. Lǚ is a hexagram that brings up issues related to what you are doing and why. It asks you to look at where you are going and to focus on your footsteps and motivations. It suggests a Cautious Advance because where you are going you have never gone before. Humility allowed for Authenticity and it is time to apply openness and all that you have learned from introspection. In times of difficulty, you may need to sit with emotion to discover how this ‘tail of the tiger’ can lead you inward to tap your Authenticity. The tiger can be the emotion you feel but treading suggests observing without acting on it. Allow feelings to have life within you without needing to give them a label. This energy will ignite deeper levels of awareness for you in the sense of Spiritual direction. Energy does not die and by allowing for its expression you can actually allow it to transform you. Each day is a piece of a puzzle, a gift that will unmask your character and reveal your destiny. The Tiger of emotion or fear only bites when you run from it or try to cage it.

Ladybug walking on flower

Discover the


of treading

in life’s


“Treading shows the basis of character; one who treads does not stay.” Life always meets you half way, but as long as you feel that life is working against you, the world will appear as a glass half-full. Filling the other portion of the glass allows you to discover your full capabilities. Sometimes the way isn't easy - but it will make you stronger. Sometimes the path isn't clear, so we need only look down to see where we are currently treading. How is life speaking to you in the nuances of your journey? The tiger we come upon in the woods can be the passion within or the passion we believe is in others. How can they be separate? Dreams show us how others are a reflection of us. The Spiritual path is our own and you are being called into initiation. The small choices you make today will give shape to tomorrow. So tread carefully and observe the signs. If you are walking around with your head up in the clouds, you may step on the tiger's tail. Don't mystify life. Live it.

The master said: "The truth is not a sign that points to something beyond itself; it just is." When you tread on the tail of a tiger, you have to be prepared for the nasty bite of truth that brings you back to earth. Treading means being present and participating with how life is shaping you.

The Joyous Lake is the daughter, reaching toward the Creative in the image of the weak treading on the power of the strong father. The exuberance of the child worries the father who looks upon his daughter with humor. Perhaps he finds humor in the innocent pursuit of something that cannot be grasped. Of the energy of life, the master said: “whoever lays hold of it will lose it.” In the image of someone impersonating the deceased at a funeral - another's truth may not be your truth. The words of deceased masters must be made personal because one person’s truth is not another’s.

Sometimes the mind leads you away from passion and sometimes passion leads you into a pit. The message of Lǚ is to find the balance between learning from experience and being open to the unknown. Passion is not dependent on what you have. The passion of Spirit is an infinite fire that burns unattached to what transpires around you.

Let it burn freely behind eyes open to wonder.

Lu asks you to focus on your footsteps because life reveals itself differently in the unique pathway that you walk upon.

When dogma takes the place of actual experience, it shackles you to “lectures that are no better than footprints in the dust.” Yet, of the evolutionary power of life, “go up to it and you will not see its head; follow behind and you will not see its rear. Treading on the tail of the tiger, it does not bite.” It does not bite because you follow behind. You must be present to see how life is guiding you.

If your path is leading you to be continually bitten, examine whether you are moving too quickly and not appreciating the sensitive environment in which you find yourself. At times you are the tiger. At times you bring out the angry tiger in another. Treading carefully is not a message to stop; it is a message to be more conscious of your steps.

When you have lost interest in the mystery of life, Lǚ becomes a shining light upon your footsteps. It coaxes you to reconnect with your journey. The truth is revealed in every moment that unfolds before you. In life, we rarely make choices. We know what we don't want and life shows us what we can't have...all that is left is the answer.


Treading on the tiger tail = become fearlessly yourself, no need to rush. Lu unchanging is often a clear message to slow down. Perhaps you need to gain greater clarity about your object of enquiry rather than asking so many questions. It can present the idea of walking on eggshells or feeling that you are in an environment of heavy judgment and criticism. It can also suggest that you are failing to see any deeper reason for why events are unfolding as they are, perhaps feeling like a victim. The deeper aspects of your journey are lost to you. Character development can also be at play. It helps to identify the silver lining in difficulty or the part you play in hitting walls. You are not a victim and a frenetic pace is sometimes the reason you lack comfort. Slow down. Look for meaning. Chances are life is protecting you from making the wrong choices.

Line 1:

Simply going one’s way = progress without blame. Changes to (6) Conflict. Many enlightenment seekers begin their journey when the ego is wounded. Interacting with others and not fitting in will throw you back upon yourself. This is necessary when you are searching for your own path. Don’t be angry at others to vindicate yourself. Remember that conflict has one purpose ~ to transform you. Just go your way. If it is real, it will come back to you.

Line 2:

Taking the easy path = perseverance of the dark man brings good fortune. Changes to (25) Innocence. Any breakthrough in enlightenment is usually followed by an encounter with the Shadow, whether in dreams or daily life. This is the powerful side of you that once allowed expression and given a home, can guide you. Without judgment means to use the Innocence of a child, accept your trials with wonder. The path is always easy when you don’t fight, but follow. How is the path teaching you about your hidden potential?

Line 3:

Stepping on the tiger tail and getting bit = the lame man walks and the blind man sees but this leads to misfortune. Changes to (1) Creative. Success is a journey of self completion and the seed is always within you. The ego is only a part of who you are, like the lame or blind ‘man.’ Your dream life gives definition to a more complete picture of who you are. The tiger is initiation and something is still unknown in the situation so you might look deeper. Study your dreams for guidance or explore the perils before proceeding. To proceed without wisdom leads to folly but even folly can be a teacher.

Line 4:

Stepping on the tiger’s tail = cautious and circumspect, all goes well. Changes to (61) Inner Truth. You have what it takes to proceed although the environment appears dangerous. All obstacles that you face become opportunities for further insight into your purpose in life. It is your integrity and commitment to the truth, mixed with cautiousness that allows you to succeed. Synchronicity reveals the dissolving of barriers between ‘in here’ and ‘out there.’ Overcome fear and you will succeed.

Line 5:

Making a decisive step = preparing for danger eliminates risk. Changes to (38) Opposition. The most appropriate way to meet the conditions you face is with a deep respect and the wisdom that everything and everyone on your path is your teacher. Expecting difficulty makes things stressful. Expecting to transform the opportunity that an obstacle presents brings peace. Risk is the window that allows you to escape from your prison.

Line 6:

Watching the steps = examining omens. Changes to (58) Joy. At the precipice of enlightenment we measure insight and inspiration against the path to find a correlation. Finding meaning in this way brings Joy and success. You can play victim or look back upon your conduct and consequences to see how you brought about the result. There may be conditioning or early beliefs that you need to release in order to overcome fear and participate more intimately with others. How delightful to discover meaning in life!

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 10 unchanging Hexagram 10.1 Hexagram 10.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 10.2 Hexagram 10.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 10.3 Hexagram 10.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 10.4 Hexagram 10.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 10.5 Hexagram 10.5.6 Hexagram 10.6