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The Meaning of Hexagram #6

Also called "Conflict"

I Ching Hexagram #6

Hexagram #6: Heaven over Water

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I Ching Hexagram #6

The message of hexagram number 6 is that even those who go through life with good-will and the best intentions will at times meet with hostility and powerful opposition. At this time it is advised that conflict be avoided, for conflict at this time (even if justified) will lead to more serious setbacks. There are times when a "cautious halt" can be far more powerful than the most aggressive response.

NOTE: Wondering how I Ching hexagram #6, "Water below Heaven", can be applied to questions about your relationship? See our special Love I Ching interpretation for hexagram #6

Changing Lines in Hexagram #6

Changes in Line 1

"Little Gossip... Good Fortune Comes"

I Ching hexagram 6 shown with changing-line #1 highlighted

During times of opposition and conflict, gossip can often make matters worse. A change in this line represents a warning to restrain your thoughts on the matter, and allow the seas to become calmed.

Changes in Line 2

"Return Home"

I Ching hexagram 6 shown with changing-line #2 highlighted

There are times in which the only way to avoid conflict is to retreat. At this time, since conflict is to be avoided, it is advised that even a retreat is better than to engage in hostilities. Such actions will ultimately benefit your entire household and community. There is no shame in a retreat at this time.

Changes in Line 3


I Ching hexagram 6 shown with changing-line #3 highlighted

A change in this line is a warning that things are imminently about to become dangerous or risky. An avoidance of conflict will result in good news. It should be noted however that the credit for some of your actions will go to another. Do not resist this at this time. Be content with the good fortune that comes your way.

Changes in Line 4

"Turn Back. Submit to Fate"

I Ching hexagram 6 shown with changing-line #4 highlighted

Conflict at this time may be especially tempting because victory will be seemingly at hand. A change in this line represents a special warning that just because something "can" be won, does not mean that it "should" be. Find peace in perseverance and a change of attitude. Only through avoidance of conflict can you truly succeed.

Changes in Line 5

"Contend Before Him"

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

There are times when conflicts must be brought before a third party who will judge the merits of the case. At this time you should have faith that a third party will judge fairly and (if you are in the right), this judgement carries "supreme good fortune".

Changes in Line 6

"The Belt is Bestowed"

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

A change in this line is a warning against the pursuit of a prize at this time. If one enters a conflict and emerges victorious, he will be given awards and favors. The warning here, however, is that these awards will be "snatched away", and you will spend all your energy defending your new position. Misery comes after victory.

The Trigrams Inside Hexagram #6

Hexagram #6 is made of two 3-line trigrams mounted on top of each other. The bottom three lines of hexagram #6 form the trigram for Water, while the upper three lines form the trigram for Heaven.

Vector image of lower trigram Water in hexagram #6
Lower Trigram of Water
Vector image of upper trigram Heaven in hexagram #6
Upper Trigram of Heaven

NOTE: Generally speaking, the hexagram's upper trigram symbolizes external energies, and the lower trigram symbolizes internal energies.

Hexagram #6's Lower Trigram of Water

Image of hexagram #6 with lower 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.

Hexagram #6's Upper Trigram of Heaven

Image of hexagram #6 with upper 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.

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List of all possible changes for hexagram #6

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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