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The Meaning of Hexagram #5

Also called "Patience"

I Ching Hexagram #5

Hexagram #5: Water over Heaven

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I Ching Hexagram #5

The lesson of hexagram number 5 is that good things come to those who wait. Patience requires both inner strength and a commitment to resist the temptation of acting prematurely. Often hardships will arise in the course of one's time spent waiting. The message here is that those who endure these hardships, and "cross great streams" will emerge victorious. Do not be put off your path at this time.

NOTE: Looking for answers about how I Ching hexagram #5, "Heaven below Water", can be applied to love and romantic relationship questions? See our popular Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #5

Changing Lines in Hexagram #5

Changes in Line 1

"Waiting at the Field"

I Ching hexagram 5 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

Patience is best exercised from a proper vantage point. Consider placing oneself in a position from where one can watch approaching events at a distance. Do not alter your daily routine, because there is much in it that will help you when events move more quickly.

Changes in Line 2

"Waiting by the Sea"

I Ching hexagram 5 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

During tests of patience, it is easy to assume the worst. Such assumptions cause undue panic and grief and reduce one's ability to think clearly and rationally. Remember that with patience comes perseverance. Do not be swayed by unwarranted fears of failure.

Changes in Line 3

"Waiting in the Marsh"

I Ching hexagram 5 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

While waiting for events to happen, it is important to remain ready for action. Changes in this line represent a warning that things are not "at the ready" and your response may be too slow when the situation calls for action.

Changes in Line 4

"Waiting by Blood"

I Ching hexagram 5 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

Changes in this line are a serious warning that you are not prepared for action that will soon be required of you. It is foolish to remain trapped in a position of weakness. You must urgently "climb out of the pit" you are in, and get yourself to a place where you are capable of action and change.

Changes in Line 5

"Waiting at the Feast"

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

Your perseverance brings good fortune, but the ultimate achievement still lies ahead. It is important to rest along the way. Enjoy the good things that life has to offer. You will need the strength for the challenge that still lies ahead.

Changes in Line 6

"Falling Down. / Visitors Arrive."

I Ching hexagram 5 shown with changing-line #6 highlighted

There are two messages represented by this changing line: The first is a stern message that a serious failure is imminent. You stand at the edge of a pit, and it is quite sure that you will fall. The second message is more unusual: During your fall, "uninvited guests" will arrive. Treat them all well. For they are part of a larger plan that will help you immeasurably.

The Two Trigrams Within Hexagram #5

Hexagram #5 is structured out of two 3-line trigrams layered on top of one another. The lower three lines of hexagram #5 make up the trigram for Heaven, while the top three lines make up the trigram for Water.

Vector image of lower trigram Heaven in hexagram #5
Lower Trigram of Heaven
Vector image of upper trigram Water in hexagram #5
Upper Trigram of Water

NOTE: A simple way to think about trigrams is that the hexagram's upper trigram represents external forces, and the bottom trigram represents internal forces.

Hexagram #5's Lower Trigram of Heaven

Image of hexagram #5 with lower trigram highlighted

The supreme trigram of Heaven is also sometimes known as the the Creative. It is a trigram of unadulterated, perfect creative force. The trigram for Heaven is a representation of pure truth and power. The trigram may also point to a father figure — or the direction of the northwest.

Hexagram #5's Upper Trigram of Water

Image of hexagram #5 with upper trigram highlighted

The fluid and forever-changing trigram of water is also sometimes called the trigram of the 'Gorge' or of the 'Abysmal'. Water itself is shapeless and liquid — symbolizing shifting realities and random outcomes. This fluid trigram is often an indication of uncertainty or sudden shifts. The water trigram is associated with the moon's cycles and with the direction north.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #5

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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