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I ching

Zhen (Shocking)

I Ching Hexagram 51
Zhen (Shocking)

Action: Arouse

Hu Gua (hidden influence) 39 Obstruction: Innovate

Zong Gua (underlying cause) 57 Penetration: Permeate

Success comes when you achieve tranquility in disturbance.

The gem cannot be polished without friction,
nor man perfected without trials. – Confucius

Reading at a Glance: When children ride roller coasters, they discover that allowing fear to have expression is energizing. If only we could always remain joyous in approaching our fears as we move along our dusty road. Unfortunately we grow complacent and seek security and stasis. Anything in nature that becomes stagnant will be re-energized by the unexpected. “Shock brings success. Shock comes – oh oh! Laughing words – ha ha!” Whether hurricanes balance ocean temperatures or tumultuous autumn and spring storms invigorate new growth, nobody can hide from nature’s power to keep all things thriving. The Shocking can symbolize the unexpected things that generate emotion and wake us up. It can symbolize the fear of intimacy that is suddenly awakened as stirrings of unexpected love. It can represent changes you didn’t ask for but are good for you. The underlying cause of Penetration showed a period of rest and concession, but now it is time to stir things up. The hidden influence of Obstruction is always a call to innovate. Feelings can be rising that are quite unfamiliar but refreshingly new. What worked in the past will no longer do. The two words most associated with Zhen is ‘uh oh!’ However, it should be viewed in the same laughing sentiment as children riding a roller coaster. Something is coming that is unexpected but is meant to awaken you to how you hide. Each day we witness the mutability of nature and fail to recognize it in our own life. No matter the event, the pace may quicken and you may suddenly find your heart racing and a smile on your face.

Rainbow over mountain


and rainbows

are born of the same

rattling sounds -

and promises.

“Among the custodians of the sacred vessel, the oldest son comes first. Hence, follows the idea of the Arousing or shocking Thunder.” The Arousing means movement that disengages you from complacency. “Shock brings success. Shock comes – oh oh! Laughing words – ha ha!” Like a clap of thunder, sudden and spontaneous events ensue where you will observe how “that which goes against the Way comes to an early end.”

“The shock terrifies for a hundred miles, although one does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice.” The sacrificial spoon and chalice carry the idea of the Well and Cauldron as the utensils used for transformation. When you are stuck in a transformational process, Shocking events come to release you from stagnation, but do not forget that you hold the key and the power to transform.

The master said: “Everything is in destruction; everything is in construction. This is called tranquility in disturbance. Tranquility in disturbance means perfection.” Wisdom comes in knowing that whatever takes form is necessary. “The shock terrifies and fear brings good fortune.” In the land of authenticity, fear is aroused from slumber so that it can be transformed into a greater power: the freedom to move. Understanding the necessity of what transpires, fear and trembling give way to tranquility and faith in the way.

In the natural world, a baby albatross will leave the comfort and safety of its nest on an island. Before it can fly, it must venture into the ocean like a duck, paddling to achieve the momentum necessary for flight. At the same time, tiger sharks will swarm in the shallows, seeking their opportunity for sustenance. Some of these baby birds will fulfill the destiny of being a shark’s sustenance. Those frightened enough to attempt what they have never tried before, will fly. That part of you that has remained dormant will resurface in the image of quaking and excited rain.

The shocking always comes as the event necessary to transform fear into new life: it is fundamental to your survival. “Nothing is worse than struggling not to give play to feelings one cannot control. This is called the Double Injury and of those who sustain it, none live out their natural span.” Closing down, stagnation and fear can turn energy back upon the body. The shocking is the good fortune that can awaken you to self-destructive tendencies. Holding yourself in contempt for harboring natural urges, you may intellectualize taboos that go against your base nature. In proportion to how critical you have become of others, you will recognize the severity of your inner critic. When you believe others are judging you, only turn inward to see how you judge yourself.

“Precious things lead one astray. A situation only becomes favorable when one adapts to it. The kind man discovers it and calls it kind. The wise man discovers it and calls it wise. The people use it day by day and are unaware of it.” Even the most shocking situations embody life’s drive toward harmony. Whatever is removed makes room for something meaningful to grow in its place.

As the image of an earthquake, the ground gives way to loosen what you held to be solid and precious. In dreams, natural disasters always show how the inner foundation must continuously be renewed. The sound of Thunder is captured in the laughing words 'ha - ha!' You can move like bamboo, bending and laughing in the winds of renewal. Whatever the event, you are released of the structures that have become the tower and prison of your real nature.


You can hide under the bed = but life knows where to find you. Something shocking or reinvigorating is in the air. Because it is unchanging, its unpredictability is specifically what it will take to wake you up from your slumber. One who believes they can ward off love will suddenly find themselves smitten. Another who thinks they can keep lying to themselves about an unfulfilling job may suddenly be forced to switch careers. Fear may go along with the ride but if you trust how nature is always purposeful as it regenerates, you need not worry. This is a situation where you may look back and see the hand of providence with a smile. The fact that someone thinks they can ward off change is exactly why change happens. Life doesn’t happen to us, it happens because of us.

Line 1:

Shock comes-oh, oh! Then follow laughing words-ha, ha! = good fortune. Changes to (16) Enthusiasm. Change is in the air and while it may at first appear that something bad is happening, you will discover it has reawakened your lost passion. Like children laughing in enthusiastic fear on a roller coaster ride, the amusement park is coming to you.

Line 2:

Shock brings danger. A hundred thousand times you lose your treasures and climb the nine hills. Do not go in pursuit of them = after seven days you will get them back again. Changes to (54) Propriety. You may find yourself in a situation that has trapped you because you are doing what you thought was expected of you. Events can transpire in a shocking way to set you free. Whatever you think you are losing will come back to you. The steps you were taking to move in one direction can be suddenly halted as you are swept up and placed on a different path. What is valuable and meant for you is never threatened.

Line 3:

Shock comes and makes one distraught = if shock spurs action one remains free of misfortune. Changes to (55) Abundance. An unexpected situation may be causing you concern but it forces you to take action. You may want to maintain the status quo even when feeling unfulfilled, but that won’t work. The change to Abundance is a positive message about reconnecting with fulfillment. Whatever is unfolding will lead you to take the necessary action that will lead you from stagnation.

Line 4:

There is a shock = it is mired in mud. Changes to (24) Return. You may be stirring the pot in an effort to spur one to some sort of awakening or action but it doesn’t work. Some people are so deeply mired in selfish thinking that nothing can wake them from their prison. Return can be a message that rather than focus on others, do what is right for you.

Line 5:

Shock coming and going that feels like danger = while nothing is wrong there is work to be done. Changes to (17) Following. This can be a situation where everyone is over reacting. There can be a lot of emotional fireworks and button pushing although nothing is done to improve the situation. Following can show how others react to you and how you react to them in an endless circle. If you want to succeed stop reacting and make the necessary changes.

Line 6:

Too shocked to move and unsettled in one’s self = the neighbors are hysterical but you are free of blame. Discussion of union brings gossip. Changes to (21) Biting Through. If you are in an anxious condition about a decision then it is probably better not to do anything just yet. Clarity is lost because fear is running rampant. Too much time focusing on how others view you or what they are doing is not a fulfilling way to live. You need to use discernment rather than judgment in this situation. Discernment allows the heart to have a voice while reasoning quietly ‘bites through’ the conflicting feelings. Once you can settle your fear and return to your own center, you will know which is the proper course to take. One can be overly concerned about what others think of a partner.

*This page provides insight on the following combinations: Hexagram 51 unchanging Hexagram 51.1 Hexagram 51.1.2 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 51.2 Hexagram 51.2.3 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 51.3 Hexagram 51.3.4 Hexagram Hexagram Hexagram 51.4 Hexagram 51.4.5 Hexagram Hexagram 51.5 Hexagram 51.5.6 Hexagram 51.6