I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

39: Temporary Obstacles

Temporary Obstacles

Have temporary obstacles been blocking your way? In the course of trying to reach a goal or fulfill a personal ambition, obstructions inevitably present themselves. This is not always a bad thing. Obstacles, difficulties and even setbacks that are eventually overcome often become assets. Without irritating grains of sand, oysters would never make pearls.

The obstacles pointed to here are not permanent, yet they are in the way. As when a large boulder falls in the road, the best course of action is usually to go around it, rather than to try to move it out of the way. Temporary obstacles must be seen for what they are — temporary — and should not be allowed to take on too much significance.

A positive aspect of even the most difficult obstacle is that it may cause a person to turn inward, and gain greater depth of character and self-knowledge. While the ignorant bemoan their fate and seek to blame their problems on others, the wise seek the cause of the problem within themselves. Through this type of introspection, obstacles become a means for personal growth and self-discovery.

Without air resistance, no plane would ever fly.

If you are facing temporary obstacles, try not to be overly concerned. Obstacles are a part of achieving every goal and furthering every undertaking. Setbacks and reversals can affect morale, but keeping up your self-confidence in the face of obstacles is part of a successful solution to many of life’s problems. Obstacles of short duration are best handled with a yielding attitude. Go around a large boulder; don’t put your shoulder to it.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

The way ahead is totally blocked; the time is not right for direct action. Retreat, reflect on the situation, and await the right moment to overcome the current obstacle. When confronted with a threatening roadblock, it is a mistake to forge ahead blindly. Look for an opening, a detour around what is in your way, but wait for the right time to move.

Line 2

Normally, if a large boulder blocks your road, you would be well advised to just find another road. The one exception to this is when duty or previous commitments demand that you face the obstacle directly -- that is, you try to remove the rock. Even if confronting the obstacle suggests a personal risk, duty and moral obligations must be honored, for personal integrity is a resource that is hard to replenish.

Line 3

When one is in a position of responsibility or leadership, great caution must be exercised when confronting an obstacle. A wider array of needs and consequences must be considered. Rash decisions and actions in such situations bring misfortune. Nevertheless, a leader must remain firm and decisive once a course of action has been set. Keep your priorities in mind. Those who rely on you will be happy to see you have put them first.

Line 4

When confronting a large rock in the road, many hands make light work if it must be moved. Many obstacles cannot be removed single-handedly. Do not venture out to confront such a serious obstacle until the proper support is behind you; in this way, you will find union. To move before your support is firm, in this case, would bring misfortune.

Line 5

In true emergencies, one should not wait to devise a cautious strategy or enlist the support of others before taking action. In such cases, immediate helping action precedes strategy, and your resolute spirit will spur others into action too. Acting boldly when action is called for brings good fortune. In such circumstances, it is better to be 51 percent right in your efforts to surmount the obstacle than 100 percent wrong in making the decision to avoid dealing with it.

Line 6 (top line)

When a difficult situation degenerates into a real mess, only bold, forthright action can bring success. This line points to the situation of a person facing an obstacle to forward progress -- and facing an obstacle behind as well. There is no way forward, no going back. The situation is so complex there appears to be no way out. When this happens, you must reenter the fray. Do your best not to worry too much about the results. Look for help from above -- from others in positions of authority and power. When you find such support, success becomes probable. Have faith in your experience, and be sure you can help save the situation. Good fortune awaits.