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I ching

Xun (Penetration)

I Ching Hexagram 57
Xun (Penetration)

Action: Permeate

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 38 Opposition: Accommodate

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 51 Shocking: Arouse

Something very profound
is also committed to your success.

When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred
acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. – Thomas Carlyle

Reading at a Glance: There is gentleness and enormous power associated with the hexagram of Penetration. Like the wind blowing over vast periods of time against a mountain, the smallest influence when applied with a steadfast attitude can break down any barrier. The idea of looking more deeply at a situation in order to understand its less obvious dynamics is also at play. Whether you or someone else has established barriers as protection from intimacy, constancy and demonstrating trustworthy behavior can eliminate them. After the hexagrams about reaching an apex and then moving like a wanderer into the unknown, Penetration is a message about constant and gentle action and is often referred to as the Homecoming. In some ways we need not assert anything because there are other forces acting in conjunction with our efforts to bring us to a sense of arrival. The extended time period suggested by Penetration is like hexagram 5 Waiting and hexagram 32 Duration which all require great patience for reflection and the power to influence in a permeating way. The hidden influence of Opposition can show the barrier you are faced with and the message suggests that you become more accommodating. The underlying cause Shocking showed the opposite behavior where events are jarred suddenly from stagnation. This is not the case in this situation and you are being called to become gently persevering. Like Sita in the Indian myth of Ramayana, she was captured and forced through many trials to prove her loyalty to Rama. In this situation you may feel tested to prove your loyalty over an extended period of time. This hexagram is formed by the trigram of the Wind over the Wind so the message of slow and dedicated effort is doubled. After a period of uncertainty and wandering, this hexagram can show coming home.

mountain landscape with sky and clouds

Move like

the wind -

its soft lullaby,



“As a wanderer, there is nothing that might receive you. Therefore follows the idea of the Gentle and penetrating Wind.” Perhaps you have met an obstacle that has you moving in different directions. Trying to find a way 'in,' the opportunity may appear closed. However, you might seek the help of someone in a position to guide you. With penetrating effort and remaining still, you will discover that something profound is also committed to your success.

When life touches you, you may feel that something profound has moved you. Yet, you must ask yourself what was happening in your life that made you recognize its magic at that moment? Life is always touching you in sublime ways; you sometimes only glimpse it when circumstances emerge to slow you down. The Gentle Wind is a message about steady progress and steadfastness in the face of difficulty. It slows you down enough to look deeper into a situation. You are given time to see that things are not what you thought. Through trial you may have to prove your loyalty, commitment and sincerity to your cause.

The sublimity of life demonstrates a type of wisdom that continuously wrestles you back to the correct pathway. When you stop trying to understand life in your terms, you can open to recognizing yourself in its terms: there is something very unique about you and its potential knows no bounds. Nature always fortifies those committed to success even when the path appears blocked or seems to go backwards.

By penetrating to the core of circumstances without doing anything, you can influence events and move forward.

The master said: "What is easy attracts the easy; what is hard will attract the hard." If you are open, there is no need for life to break away your protective covering. "The way is easy, yet people prefer by-paths.” If you remain easy, you invite the easy. The Way is easy because all it asks is that you remain supple enough to be led.

This is how you can gently influence events. Success comes when you no longer “contend and yet are be able to conquer; do not declare your will and yet, get a response; do not summon, and still have things come spontaneously to you.” Te, as the ‘power in me,’ when tapped as nature's drive toward individuation, does not fight the very thing that gives it definition. When you are just so all that you need always comes spontaneously to you.

Steadfast and open, “life leads the thoughtful person on a path of many windings. Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.” In the image of items arranged on a table, something is needed to support them. After each experience, you will discover how life supports you to keep growing. The Wind is invisible and yet influences everything upon the earth. You can find a sense of contentment where others experience only frustration by trusting that everything is unfolding as it should. Adjusting your sails to harness how life moves you, 'one who never fails' is the mark of one devoted to the Way.

Penetrating experience with the same effort as the gentle Wind, you will discover too, that “when the decision is made, all things come to you.” This is steadfastness. Embracing nature’s pursuit of the best of what it might become, you awaken into a world that always meets you half way to bring it forward. As "a mirror that receives, but does not hold," know that whatever you are seeking, you will find. In the suchness of life, you will discover that something very profound has been committed to your success since the beginning.


When the way forward is blocked by rocks = climb up for a better view. You may be pushing too hard to alter a situation that is very complex. Any blockage may require that you examine your sincerity or prove that another can trust you. This is a hexagram of Homecoming so a period of wandering can be followed by returning to an environment of comfort and peace. Penetration unchanging can lead to success if you are patient enough to remain dedicated to your cause regardless of what obstacles are presented. In fact, it may just be this type of testing, where your sincerity is defined over time that will allow you to achieve your desire. Nothing will happen quickly when you receive Penetration unchanging but over time a lasting commitment can be made. Allow any barriers or obstacles to your forward movement to become a source of enlightenment. Constancy in gentle action and allowing for deeper penetration or understanding are keys to your success in this situation. Any barriers to intimacy or union will eventually erode in the same way the Wind will chisel away a mountain over time. Actions speak louder than words and you may need to prove to another that you can be trusted. This may take some time so be patient and persevering.

Line 1:

Advancing and retreating = the perseverance of a warrior furthers. Changes to (9) Small Restraint. In being gentle in your actions, it can appear as indecisiveness. At the beginning when meeting a challenging situation you may not feel confident enough to assert yourself. The problem is that you may be looking for a quick fix or sudden resolution in a situation that will actually require the tenacity and discipline of a warrior. Small Restraint is a message about surrender. You can achieve the object of your desire if you do not attempt to exert the will but move gently and resolutely forward.

Line 2:

Penetration under the bed, priests and magicians are used in great number =
good fortune without blame. Changes to (53) Development. There are elements in this situation which have roots in your beliefs. Sometimes consulting others who can be more objective will allow you to penetrate more deeply into why you find yourself hitting a wall. Both Penetration and Development suggest digging below the superficial surface aspects to understand your or another’s fear projections.

Line 3:

Repeated penetration = humiliation. Changes to (59) Dispersion. You may be going over the details of this situation over and over but are failing to understand the deeper dynamics. The solution is tied to your willingness to look objectively at new possibilities you hadn’t considered. At the same time, indecisiveness can be born from spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing something to change it. Dispersion is a message to release and go with the flow. Action is required in a gentle and open minded manner.

Line 4:

Remorse vanishes = during the hunt, three kinds of game are caught. Changes to (44) Coming to Meet. Penetration allows you to understand the part you play in any type of difficulty. Coming to Meet suggests taking responsibility for your Shadow projections with modesty, honor and action. In this way you can obtain your objectives because of your willingness to see all sides of the situation. The three kinds of game can represent how you see yourself, how you see others and how you see yourself through interaction with others.

Line 5:

Perseverance brings good fortune, remorse vanishes and nothing that does not further = no beginning but an end with three days before and after the change. Changes to (18) Decay. This can be a difficult situation that requires time before it can resolve itself. While you may initially want to fall back into an unfulfilling routine, you are asked to step back and be patient. Deterioration is at play and the necessary change will result in better conditions. Three days before and after change suggests thoughtful action after careful consideration.

Line 6:

Penetration under the bed, losing property and an ax = perseverance brings misfortune. Changes to (48) The Well. By trying too hard or too quickly to apply change to the situation you may actually lose it. The Well suggests how a situation appears to change when in actuality it does not. By looking too deeply at the situation or sacrificing too much, you can lose your identity and your power. All of your searching is not getting you anywhere so it is better to make a decision and move forward with it.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 57 unchanging Hexagram 57.1 Hexagram 57.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 57.2 Hexagram 57.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 57.3 Hexagram 57.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 57.4 Hexagram 57.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 57.5 Hexagram 57.5.6 Hexagram 57.6