Hexagram Thirty-three—Yielding

Hexagram Thirty-three shows that knowing when to act and when not to act is the key to success. Sincerity is secondary to timing in this situation.

The first line, yin, shows possible danger at the end of a long project. Take no further action now, for getting out of the way is the best way to avoid trouble.

In the second line, yin, success comes through maintaining a strong will. One's strength must be like a leather thong made from the hide of a yellow ox.

The third line, yang, shows one who is bound to distress, granting him/herself no mercy. This person would not treat anyone else so severely. Being more lenient toward oneself will bring good fortune.

The fourth line, yang, shows a powerful person who reluctantly quits working for the day. This is correct and will bring good fortune. A lesser person would not grant him/herself the luxury.

The fifth line, yang, shows a great person who happily ends the day's work. This decision is made with sincerity when the timing is right.

The sixth line, yang, shows a noble person ending the day's work in a gracious, upright manner. Their self-assurance will bring satisfaction and time to relax.

Hexagram Thirty-three Commentary

This hexagram returns to the them of inner balance, knowing when to act and when to stop. Timing is everything, and developing an inner sense of timing is better than trying to second guess when to act and when to quit.

The first line, yin, offers the metaphor of danger at the end of a long project. There is often much more to do, but we may pressure ourselves to wrap it up. This line warns against trying to hurry the ending through over-work. If there's more to do, the line recommends, "Take no further action now, for getting out of the way is the best way to avoid trouble." Instead of stressing, step away, and come back to manage the last details with a fresh mind.

The second line, yin, says the subject must maintain a strong will, even if they take a break from a situation. The line says the will must have the strength of leather "made from the hide of a yellow ox."

The third line, yang, criticizes overwork. It says it is wrong for someone to work out of distress, "granting him/herself no mercy." This person would never treat others with such cruelty, so the line recommends "being more lenient toward oneself."

The fourth line, yang, elaborates on the theme of overworking. The line says it is correct to call it a day at the correct time and relax. Even if quitting for the day reluctantly, "A lesser person would not grant him/herself the luxury."

The fifth line, yang, elaborates further on this point. While the person in the fourth line ends the work day "reluctantly," the subject of the fifth line "happily ends the day's work." This is correct because the person works sincerely with a strong will, and the timing is right.

The sixth line, yang, elaborates further, showing the absolute best attitude to end the day's work. The subject of this line ends the work day "in a gracious, upright manner." Flowing with the Dao, there is a time for work and a time to relax. Wisdom is allowing oneself to experience both equally.

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: