Hexagram Fifty—Sustenance

Hexagram Fifty shows an iron cauldron that provides sustenance to a family. The cauldron can be compared to an ideal government, society, family system, or association that provides abundance to its members.

The first line, yin, shows that the cauldron is overturned so its foul contents have spilled out. Good fortune can come of a bad situation once the evil elements are purged.

The second line, yang, shows the cauldron filled with things to be cooked. Although some people may be jealous or antagonistic, have firm confidence that they can cause no harm.

The third line, yang, shows that the handles of the cauldron have been altered. This small inconsistency prevents anyone from enjoying the stew in the cauldron. With patience the situation will come around and everyone will learn a valuable lesson.

The fourth line, yang, shows a more serious calamity: the feet of the cauldron have broken and its contents spilled. There is no food to offer to the ruler and the cook is deeply embarrassed. This is unfortunate.

The fifth line, yin, shows a cauldron with new golden handles. Through hard work and determination the situation is made right.

The sixth line, yang, shows a cauldron with jade handles. There will be great good fortunate in any action.

Hexagram Fifty Commentary

This hexagram returns to the concept of community. In this case, the metaphor is of a cauldron that provides food to a family.

The first line, yin, shows an overturned cauldron with all the old food dumped out. Foul elements must be purged, the vessel cleaned, and then the meal started anew with fresh ingredients. Although starting over may seem like a setback, it's a necessary part of the cycle. In a community, grievances need to be aired, and negative influences addressed.

The second line, yang, shows the freshly cleaned cauldron filled once again. There may be members of the community who still feel antagonistic, but trust they can do no harm. Now that the cauldron is cleaned and put back into use, people can think what they want without further hindering the process.

The third line, yang, shows a temporary situation where everything is broken, and nobody can get food from the cauldron. It says, "With patience the situation will come around." Somebody notices the handles were altered. Repairing the handles, people can once again get food from the cauldron.

The fourth line, yang, shows the worst possible scenario. The feet of the cauldron break off and everything spills out. The ruler and the cook are embarrassed and sorry, and the situation is unfortunate.

The fifth line, yin, shows a cauldron that had a problem with the handles, like in the third line, but the handles are now fixed. Not only fixed, but replaced with "new golden handles." This shows through determination, anything can be fixed.

The sixth line, yang, shows a cauldron with jade handles. This is a clue and a confirmation. If handles can be replaced with such determination, the feet of a cauldron could probably also be replaced. To approach a big problem, it's best to go in trusting there must be a solution.

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: