Hexagram Ten—Walking on Dangerous Ground

This hexagram shows its subject stepping on the tail of a tiger without being bitten. If one can do such a dangerous thing when necessary, it will work out for the good.

The first line, yang, shows a person walking on his or her usual path. No harm will come by continuing.

The second line, yang, shows an ordinary person walking a level path. If this person continues with a sincere and steadfast attitude, remaining sober and dedicated, everything will work out.

The third line, yin, shows unqualified and arrogant leaders who tempt fate. Inevitably, a nearly-blind person and an injured person step on a tiger's tail and the tiger bites them. This is unfortunate, especially with an unqualified leader who only pretends to do noble acts to protect the citizens.

The fourth line, yang, shows a thoughtful person stepping on the tiger's tail. Because this person maintains vigilance, the tiger does not bite and everything works out.

The fifth line, yang, shows that although a person maintains a positive attitude, the danger is real, and due caution is advised.

The sixth line, yang, explains that one must examine the path carefully and look at the overall situation, as well as the details.

Hexagram Ten Commentary

In times of crisis, some attitudes help, while others make things worse. The introduction shows a person who steps on a tiger's tail in the line of duty. In today's world we see fire fighters and police who race toward a disaster. The introduction to Hexagram Ten says, "If one can do such a dangerous thing when necessary, it will work out for the good."

When we realize there's a disaster, such as a mass shooting or hurricane, maybe we watch it unfold on TV, but it doesn't directly impact our own life. The first line, yang, says no harm will come if we continue on with the day we had planned, while feeling compassion for those who are directly affected.

In the long term, disaster after disaster may pile up, but the second line, yang, shows an "ordinary person walking a level path." For those not directly touched, the best thing is to continue on with life as usual. While people in a neighboring state go through difficulty, the rest of us keep things going for them. Social stability will help turn things around later.

The third line, yin, shows arrogant leaders bragging, and pretending to take care of their citizens. Unfortunately, two vulnerable citizens fall into the chaos, as the hexagram puts it, they "step on a tiger's tail" and are bitten. The hexagram says the leaders do not do anything to help the situation, and do not deserve the responsibilities entrusted to them.

After the situations settles down, investigators come in to find out what happened. Line four, yang, shows "a thoughtful person stepping on the tiger's tail." The investigator maintains caution, and the tiger does not bite. Ultimately the investigator's work is successful.

The fifth line, yang, shows a situation where a positive attitude can't change things. The hexagram says, "the danger is real." It is best to stay out of the way of first responders and investigators. Don't try to look on the bright side, because for those close to the situation, there may be no bright side for the time being.

The sixth line, yang, confirms the tenuous nature of some of life's situations. The most positive attitude one can take is to "examine the path carefully" and study the details. In other words, in dark days in life, the best attitude is to remain serious to stay safe until danger passes.

To the reader: Most of the hexagrams have at least one line that predicts bad results, but that does NOT mean you are fated to that result. The hexagrams illustrate different attitudes, so study the actions and reactions to learn the attitudes that will lead to better outcomes.

The I Ching teaches you to flow with changes and create positive change from the inside through conscious living. Your future is in your hands. Consult the I Ching for ideas that lead to clear thinking and positive mental attitude. Reading the I Ching helps you take the time to reflect on your attitudes and ideas. Continue asking until you feel positive about your course.

Click here for another hexagram.

A note about this interpretation of the I Ching: Nori Muster wrote this version of the I Ching in 1994 and put it online at in 2000. It is also available at Amazon: