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I Ching Hexagram #15:

Modesty And Progress

How to interpret "Modesty And Progress"

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This hexagram symbolizes the two concepts of modesty and progress. The suggestion here is that progress at this time can best be accomplished through a modest approach. Self promotion or boasting are seen as strong negatives here. Actions will speak far louder than self-serving words. If something is unknown, ask without shame. Feigning knowledge brings misfortune.

Changes in Line 1

"Modest about modesty"

A changing line at the bottom of this hexagram is a reminder that modesty is not something that can itself be shown-off, flaunted or boasted about. Modesty rarely receives credit. It exists for its own sake. With modesty comes a simple strength of character which enables one to overcome the greatest of obstacles.

Changes in Line 2

"Humility has been recognized"

One cannot promote one's own humility, or brag about one's own modesty -- yet at this time, modesty has been recognized. It is a moment of good fortune.

Changes in Line 3

"Merit Acknowledged"

This changing line near the center of the hexagram is an indication that merit is being publicly acknowleged. There is also a warning here against the temptations of fame, popularity and glamour. Such things are the opposite of modesty and destroy one's ability to see things in perspective. The acknowledgement of merit is good fortune. To revel in this acknowledgement is to turn good luck into bad.

Changes in Line 4

"Only That Which is Truly Modest"

While modesty is important it is possible for modesty to mask other motives. A lack of ambition or laziness often hides behind the mask of "modesty". True modesty is accompanied by hard work and accurate self perception. One should not deceive oneself by thinking that the modest take the easy path.

Changes in Line 5

"No Flaunting Wealth"

Changes in this line suggest a flaunting of wealth. One who shames himself or herself with an obnoxious and distasteful display of money or power. Such actions indicate that one is incapable of using wealth wisely or productively. The message which was intended as self-promotion has backfired. Shame and misfortune will follow.

Changes in Line 6

"Modesty and Action"

With modesty, success follows. A change in this top line is an indication that immediate action must follow. Success breeds greater successes. Wealth must be put to productive use. To lazily wallow in the success that has come with modesty brings misfortune.


A note on iFate's I Ching translation: This is not a direct translation of the original "Book of Changes" from 1000 BC. While multiple translations of the original text are available, they include many archaic references and can be difficult to understand for 21st century readers. iFate uses our own modern rewritings (two different editions) of the "Book of Changes" which makes interpreting I Ching readings far simpler. For iFate's additional contemporary re-writing of the original text, see our "Love I Ching" translation.

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