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The Meaning of Hexagram #15

Also called "Modesty and Progress"

I Ching Hexagram #15

Hexagram #15: Earth over Mountain

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I Ching Hexagram #15

Hexagram number 15 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.

NOTE: Want to know how I Ching hexagram #15, "Mountain below Earth", can be applied to love and romantic relationship questions? See iFate's popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #15

Changing Lines in Hexagram #15

Changes in Line 1

"Modest about modesty"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

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"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

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"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

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"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

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"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

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"

I Ching hexagram 15 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

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.

The Trigrams Within Hexagram #15

Hexagram #15 is made of two 3-line trigrams layered above each other. The bottom three lines of hexagram #15 form the trigram for Mountain, while the upper three lines form the trigram for Earth.

Vector image of lower trigram Mountain in hexagram #15
Lower Trigram of Mountain
Vector image of upper trigram Earth in hexagram #15
Upper Trigram of Earth

NOTE: In general terms, the hexagram's upper trigram points to external forces or energies, and the bottom trigram points to internal forces or energies.

Hexagram #15's Lower Trigram of Mountain

Image of hexagram #15 with lower trigram highlighted

The looming and majestic trigram of the mountain represents stillness and something immobile. The trigram of mountain is powerful, silent and eternal. Simultaneously, its effect is calming and non-combative. The trigram of mountain may also represent a 'third son' or the direction of northeast.

Hexagram #15's Upper Trigram of Earth

Image of hexagram #15 with upper trigram highlighted

The evenly divided trigram of Earth sometimes known as the trigram of the Receptive. Its characteristic traits are powerful devotion and a resilient bowing to external forces. The trigram of Earth may also reference the state of 'motherhood' or traditional female forces. The three unbroken lines may also indicate the direction of southwest

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #15

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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