Hexagram Twenty-nine—Life's Trials

Hexagram Twenty-nine describes life's tests. Using one's deepest faith and intelligence, work through these trials because each one can become a valuable lesson.

The first line, yin, shows a person facing constant trials, but who hides out in a well. This is unfortunate because the way will only become more difficult.

The second line, yang, shows a person in the midst of tribulation. Going forward will bring small but sure progress. Although there is no relief in sight, going forward will strengthen one's faith.

The third line, yin, shows one who faces conflict after conflict. Despairing, this person takes a temporary respite to avoid working him/herself into a deeper rut.

In the fourth line, yin, the battle is joined with bread and wine, served in a plain cup, symbolizing the meeting of the strong and the flexible. The subject now walks on the right path.

The fifth line, yang, shows the rut filled with water, but not overflowing. The subject of the line does not retreat into the well, but sets a steady course to bring about needed order. This is correct.

The sixth line, yin, shows a hopeless person bound by strands of twine. This person could break free, but has no will to do so. Unfortunately, they don't understanding the troubles are merely the regular lessons of life.

Hexagram Twenty-nine Commentary

Every religion has a variation on the concept that life presents trials or tests that potentially contain valuable lessons. Hexagram Twenty-nine discusses this concept from the Daoist point of view. The introduction recommends people "work through these trials" to receive the lesson.

The first line, yin, confirms the popular notion that hiding from the test will only make the next test opportunity more difficult. In this line, it shows a person who "hides out in a well." The reason tests keep coming, and may become more severe, is usually because we keep making the same mistakes. The same mistakes lead to similar consequences until we learn.

The second line, yang, shows a person suffering consequences. Instead of hiding in a well, the line says going forward "will bring small but sure progress" and "will strengthen one's faith."

The third line, yin, shows its subject who "faces conflict after conflict." Nevertheless, this person decides to take a break "to avoid working him/herself into a deeper rut."

The fourth line, yin, further elaborates on the correct way to seek respite from the repeated trials. Instead of hiding in a well like the subject of the first line, the subject of the third line needs to rest to avoid getting into a rut. This line recommends joining the battle with "bread and wine." In the Current Era, bread and wine also take on religious associations of holy communion.

The fifth line, yang, compares water that gathers in a rut to hiding in a well. It says the rut is "filled with water, but not overflowing." The subject of line three does not retreat to the well, but just takes a break to avoid the rut, then "sets a steady course to bring about needed order."

The sixth line, yin, shows a person who feels persecuted, as though "bound by strands of twine," not realizing the real nature of life, and the lessons we must all learn to get along here. This person fails to break the bonds of negativity, because they give into the emotion of self-pity.

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.

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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: