Hexagram Thirty-eight—Opposition

Although alienation and general unhappiness have gradually taken over, working on one thing at a time will eventually cure the whole system.

The first line, yang, shows one who loses horses but trusts that they will return on their own. Meanwhile, one can learn from the mistakes of evil men that it is best to be honest.

The second line, yang, shows one who sees their teacher in an unlikely place like an alley. Greeting the teacher in a friendly manner, the student feels peace.

The subject of the third line, yin, has gone against the ways of heaven. Their carriage is dragged backward and they are punished, but later they get on the right course and all is forgiven.

The fourth line, yang, shows one who tries to maintain harmony in a tumultuous situation. This person meets the person of the first line who lost horses. Both of these people possess faithful and steadfast attitudes to get them through the current situation.

The fifth line, yin, shows that in many situations the laws of society carry out the will of God. Because society can perform the needed corrections, people can go on peacefully with their lives.

The sixth line, yang, shows one who maintains harmony in a tumultuous situation. This person meets with the person of the third line, whose carriage was dragged backward. At first this person sees a carriage full of ghosts, and thus takes up his bow, but then realizes it is a dear relative. All doubts are cleared.

Hexagram Thirty-eight Commentary

This hexagram is for bad times, when "alienation and general unhappiness have gradually taken over." Nowadays we might describe this as society sliding toward hell. However, the introduction assures us, "working on one thing at a time will eventually cure the whole system." Thus, the hexagram offers hope and each line portrays a correct or incorrect, positive or negative, attitude to get through the trials.

The subject of the first line, yang, loses horses, but trusts they will return on their own. This is the attitude of a trusting, honest person. It's a lesson on how to trust.

The second line, yang, offers the rare but familiar moment of running into a teacher in an unlikely place. Usually the subject only sees the teacher at school, but seeing the teacher in an unlikely place, the student reacts with a friendly greeting. The student feels the chance meeting as a blessing and affirmation.

The third line, yin, shows how bad things can get. The subject of this line is in a carriage that got turned around and dragged backward. The line describes this as a punishment, or at least a punishing circumstance. In the end, the person "gets on the right course," and is forgiven.

The subject of the fourth line, yang, tries to remain calm and maintain harmony, despite the tumultuous situation. This person meets the subject of the first line who lost horses. The line confirms this positive attitude saying, "Both these people possess faith and steadfast attitudes to get them through the current situation."

The fifth line, yin, explains how the rule of law is just when it follows god's laws, such as prohibitions against theft and murder. Living under the law allows people to live peaceful lives.

The subject of the sixth line, yang, maintains harmony in difficult times. This person happens upon the carriage accident described in the third line. At first the subject of the sixth line sees ghosts inside the carriage, and is on the defensive. However, soon the subject recognizes a dear relative is inside the carriage. This shows how one person with a positive attitude can assist a person in trouble with a negative attitude. The line ends with the words, "All doubts are cleared." The message of this hexagram is to help each other through hard times, and to work together following the laws of the land.

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: