Hexagram Fifty-one—Thunderstorm

Hexagram Fifty-one indicates the frightening and powerful force of thunder. This can symbolize any startling, distressful situation. The subject maintains equilibrium by remaining calm. Once the danger has passed, people become cheerful again.

The first line, yang, shows the storm approaching. One who acknowledges the danger can later smile and talk about it cheerfully.

The second line, yin, shows the storm engulfing. A wise person lets go of possessions that fly away in the wind. There is no reason to lament, for the goods are easily found once the storm has passed.

The third line, yin, shows one distressed by the thunder of the passing storm. Good fortune comes if this fear inspires one to action.

The fourth line, yang, shows one distressed by the storm, who sinks in the mud without taking action. Although this accomplishes nothing, all will be well once the storm has passed.

The fifth line, yin, shows one who tries to continue with their business despite the threatening storm. Perhaps this will increase the amount of work this person can accomplish.

The sixth line, yin, shows one who is deeply fearful and confused during the storm. It is better for this person to remain still, since movement in any direction could bring misfortune. There are some precautions this person could take as the storm approaches, but it would not gain the respect of others.

Hexagram Fifty-one Commentary

This hexagram discusses the possible attitudes in an acute crisis. The metaphor is a thunderstorm. The best attitude is to remain calm. After the danger passes, things will be okay.

The first line, yang, shows the storm coming. People take it seriously as it approaches, then after it's gone they can "smile and talk about it cheerfully." Acting cheerful before the storm makes no sense. But once it passes and everyone is safe, it's fine to smile and talk.

The second line, yin, shows the storm "engulfing." In the midst of the chaos, possessions blow away on the wind. The best attitude is to let go. Once the storm passes, it will be easy to find everything again. Nowadays we may tell ourselves to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can, as it recommends in the Serenity Prayer.

The third line, yin, shows how fear can lead to inspiration. If people go through a thunderstorm, it may inspire them to invent something, or find a safe place to shelter, or think of other ways to mitigate the chaos of a bad storm.

The fourth line, yang, shows the opposite, instead of getting inspiration, the subject of this line simply feels distressed, and the metaphor is of "sinking in the mud without taking action." This is fine too, because once the storm passes, everything will be okay again.

The subject of the fifth line, yin, continues working through the storm, ignoring it as much as possible. This is another good attitude and the person gets a lot done.

The subject of the sixth line, yin, is frightened and confused throughout the storm. This person does him/herself no favors by being so tense, and it would be best if the person could just sit still. Things are bad enough without having to contend with a hysterical person. The subject could do more to prepare for the storm, but their intense worry and fidgeting before the storm would also make people nervous. Instead of being that person who falls apart in a crisis, study the attitudes of the subjects of all the other lines.

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: