Hexagram Three—Difficult Beginnings

Hexagram Three shows the great labor involved in a new beginning. A structure must be set up and the process set in motion.

The first line, yang, shows a person unable to make progress. If this person remains steady, they can learn valuable lessons from people around them, even people not ordinarily considered worthy teachers.

The second line, yin, shows a woman on a chariot poised for escape from an attacker, but the assailant actually seeks her hand in marriage. It may take a long time to work out the misunderstanding, but once resolved, they become engaged.

In the third line, yin, a hunter pursues a deer without a guide, and almost gets lost in the forest. An intelligent person, wishing to avoid more grief, gives up the chase.

The fourth line, yin, shows the woman on the chariot going forward to greet her supposed attacker with an open mind.

The fifth line, yang, shows a generous prince sharing his wealth freely with his subjects. A person who is balanced and prudent in their work can still afford to be flexible and know when to give.

The sixth line, yin, shows that this noble person, who is diligent and steadfast, is forced to retreat by horse, crying tears of blood. Although he has acted well, the situation is difficult and needs further correct action to reach a resolution.

Hexagram Three Commentary

The third hexagram is the first one to combine yin and yang lines. Thus, it shows the effort involved in breaking inertia to get a project underway.

The first line, yin, is the moment before progress begins. Although the subject may feel stuck, if they keep a steady pace and accepts people's help, motion can begin. Part of the problem is in the subject's mind, imagining people are staring, and are against them. However, the people are just innocent bystanders who would root for the subject and help they in any way they could if the subject were open to help.

The second line, yin, tells the story of a woman in a carriage. A man has come to propose marriage, but she perceives him as an attacker. After they work out the misunderstandings, they are engaged. This mirrors the first line that urges the subject to accept the help of others, rather than expect others have ill intentions.

The third line, yin, shows a hunter going off into the forest to pursue a deer. The hunter becomes lost without a guide, so it's best to call off the hunt. One way to complicate the beginning of a project is to run off without preparation or guidance.

When help is offered, accept the help and don't perceive it as an attack. The fourth line, yin, shows the woman in the carriage going forward with an open mind to meet her man.

The fifth line, yang, shows strength through sharing. The picture in this line is a generous prince sharing his wealth with his subjects.

The sixth line, yin, shows the prince retreating on his horse, crying tears of blood. His generosity was not the problem, but trouble still comes on its own. Crying tears of blood indicates a difficult start where the new project is failing. However, it's not time for brooding or self-condemnation; it's time to make a plan for how things will work out. There is more work to do.

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: