I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

57: Gentle Penetration

Gentle Penetration

The general situation suggests a subtle penetration. Reeds bend softly in the wind, symbolizing flexibility and endurance. Here we see quiet, relaxed effectiveness in action. A gentle influence is at work, but just as the wind is ceaseless in its efforts, so too small forces can persist to produce lasting results.

Gentle penetration bodes well for new relationships. Just as a summer breeze slowly penetrates the woods to cool the forest, the ideas of gifted leaders slowly reach the minds and sink into the hearts of the people. In personal relationships, a gentle beginning is often linked to a long-lasting union.

When employing a force that is weak but persistent, careful aim is necessary, for only when a small force continually moves in the same direction can it have much effect. In human affairs, this kind of influence comes more through strength of character than by any direct confrontation or seduction. It’s important to have, and stick to, clearly defined goals. Maintaining a strong vision and following a steady course of least resistance often brings good fortune.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Inborn gentleness often has indecision as a negative side effect. This situation points to a case of a gentle spirit drifting into quandary, becoming filled with self-doubt. When the rudder of personal will flaps back and forth uncontrollably, with no clear direction, it must be grasped firmly, and set back on course. Some kind of external discipline may be necessary to accomplish this.

Line 2

When dark forces seem to be undermining your plans, trace the shadows back to their source, and gently expose them to the light. Openness and honesty succeed, but only if you are first honest with yourself. Search your heart and mind for hidden enemies: self-pity, pride or a rigid view of what "should" happen in life. An excess of feelings -- either hard and arrogant, or soft and self-indulgent -- obstructs progress and saps your strength. By gently bringing negative inner feelings to the light of day, you can effectively rob them of their power over you. Do so, and good fortune awaits you.

Line 3

Even a penetrating mind can be driven to excess. After having fully researched and pondered a serious decision, further deliberation only leads to a subversion of the will. In such instances, an overactive mind will begin to use fresh doubts as a shield against taking needed action. When analysis becomes overheated, the will becomes paralyzed, and a weakness of purpose sets in. Great misfortune results.

Line 4

When responsibility, experience and energy are combined with modesty, the effects can be enduring, and success is almost unavoidable. When approaching difficult situations that require sustained effort to achieve the desired goal, keep these virtues in mind.

Line 5

A changing line in the fifth place indicates a situation in which things are far from perfect and a new direction must be taken. The beginning has not been good, even if it has not been horrendous. Some careful reform is in order, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Afterward, be prepared to continue making changes and adjustments, until the situation is aligned with your purpose. This will bring you success.

Line 6 (top line)

When the quiet, penetrating power has reached its apex, both success and difficulty are indicated, for a certain loss of strength is inherent in this situation. Once this happens, if you penetrate deeply into a situation and discover the presence of strong opposing forces, you are practically helpless. In such a case, immediate withdrawal is the only course of action.