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The Meaning of Hexagram #17

Also called "Following"

I Ching Hexagram #17

Hexagram #17: Lake over Thunder

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I Ching Hexagram #17

The act of 'following' is often seen as a lesser state to 'leading'. But leading requires knowledge and knowledge is gained from following those who are experienced and great. There is no shame in following one who has knowlege for that is how leadership is perfected. In order to lead one must know what following is. In order to follow well, one must be focused on leadership. A weak follower is one who follows without ambition. A weak leader is one who leads without a knowledge of following.

NOTE: Wondering how I Ching hexagram #17, "Thunder below Lake", can be applied to questions about dating, marriage and romantic issues? See our popular Hexagram #17 Love I Ching interpretation.

Changing Lines in Hexagram #17

Changes in Line 1

"The Goal Shifts"

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

A change in this line at the bottom of the "Following" hexagram signifies a shift in that which is followed. Priorities change and things that were once thought of as desirable often become less so. As people grow, so too do the things they pursue. An old mentor is left for a new one. A change of leadership. A shift in ideas.

Changes in Line 2

"Following the Youth"

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

Sometimes pursuits persist which should have been left behind with maturity and age. If one pursues goals that are beneath one's maturity, one sacrifices the wisdom and true learning that could have been gained. Likewise to lead those who are unworthy of being led is to waste time.

Changes in Line 3

"Following Strength"

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

A change in this line near the center of the hexagram indicates that wise leadership often leads higher in the world, and far away from lesser friends and associates. Often there are painful feelings of separation as one pursues a path that leads away from that which is familiar.

Changes in Line 4

"Perseverance Brings Misfortune"

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

A change in this line is a complex indicator: Misfortune is forecast as perseverance in a task leads to difficult times. Yet the task itself appears to be correct and worth attempting. Clarity comes with failure, and this failure seems essential to success in the future. Persevere anyway, even though failure looms.

Changes in Line 5

"Sincere Leadership

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #5 highlighted

This changing line near the top of the hexagram of "Following" is a positive indicator, and suggests that good leadership (which is sincere and truthful) is yielding positive results. A potential warning here is against leadership which deceives. Such leadership brings misfortune.

Changes in Line 6

"To the Western Mountain"

I Ching hexagram 17 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

A change in this line at the top of this hexagram indicates a complex relationship between leader and follower. He (or she) who is a great leader will, at special times, turn to work for the goals of one who follows. When such an occurance happens, the bond between leader and follower becomes sacred and lasts forever.

The Two Trigrams Within Hexagram #17

Hexagram #17 is composed of two 3-line trigrams layered above each other. The lower three lines of hexagram #17 make up the trigram for Thunder, while the top three lines make up the trigram for Lake.

Vector image of lower trigram Thunder in hexagram #17
Lower Trigram of Thunder
Vector image of upper trigram Lake in hexagram #17
Upper Trigram of Lake

NOTE: An easy way to think about the two trigrams is that the upper trigram symbolizes external energies, and the bottom trigram symbolizes internal energies.

Hexagram #17's Lower Trigram of Thunder

Image of hexagram #17 with lower trigram highlighted

The enigmatic trigram representing thunder is an energetic mix of power and mystery. According to Chinese lore, thunder is often associated with the might and mystery of dragons. The trigram of thunder is also called the "The Arousing" and points to intent, motion and initiative. It is a building block of unbridled energy and forward progress. It may also refer to an 'eldest son' or the map direction north.

Hexagram #17's Upper Trigram of Lake

Image of hexagram #17 with upper trigram highlighted

The blissful trigram representing the lake symbolizes happiness and clarity of thought and communication. Blissful tranquility is referenced here, along with a sense of calm and devotion. The blissful Lake may also point to a 'third daughter' or the map direction west.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #17

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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