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5 -- Waiting -- 5





Other titles: Nourishment, Calculated Inaction, Attending, Biding One's Time, Nourishment Through Inaction, Waiting for Nourishment, Moistened, "Waiting with the assurance that a blessing will come." -- D.F. Hook



Legge:Waitingintimates that with sincerity and firmness there will be brilliant success and good fortune. It will be advantageous to cross the great stream.

Wilhelm/Baynes:Waiting. If you are sincere, you have light and success. Perseverance brings good fortune. It furthers one to cross the great water.

Blofeld: Calculated inaction (or exhibiting the power to wait) and the confidence of others win brilliant success. Righteous persistence brings good fortune. It will be advantageous to cross the great river (or sea). [The significance of this hexagram is that inaction while awaiting the outcome of events will enable us to avoid a danger now threatening. Firmness, clarity of mind and success in winning the confidence of others are now demanded of us; with them, our undertakings will prosper. Moreover, this period of inaction is a good time in which to go on a journey or else for relaxation and enjoyment.]

Liu: Waiting.If you are sincere you will have glory (light) and success. Continuing leads to good fortune. It is of benefit to cross the great water (to travel to remote places).

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending, possessing conformity . Shining Growing, Trial: significant. Harvesting: wading the Great River. (Editor: "Possessing conformity" is translated as: ... "Inner and outer are in accord; confidence of the spirits has been captured...") [This hexagram describes your situation in terms of being compelled to wait for and serve something. It emphasizes that fixing your attention on what is required while waiting carefully for the right moment to act is the adequate way to handle it. To be in accord with the time, you are told to: attend!]

Shaughnessy: Moistened: There is a return, radiant receipt; determination is auspicious; beneficial to ford the great river.

Cleary (1): In Waiting there is sincerity and great development. It is good to be correct. It is beneficial to cross a great river.

Cleary (2):Waiting with truthfulness lights up success in correct orientation toward good. It is beneficial to cross a great river.

Wu: Waiting indicates having confidence. It is brilliant and pervasive and auspicious to be persevering. It will be advantageous to cross the big river.

The Image

Legge: The image of clouds ascending over the sky forms Waiting. The superior man, in accordance with this, eats and drinks, feasts and enjoys himself as if there were nothing else to employ him.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Clouds rise up to heaven: the image of Waiting. Thus the superior man eats and drinks, is joyous and of good cheer.

Blofeld: This hexagram symbolizes clouds rising to the zenith -- inactivity! The Superior Man will pass this time in feasting and enjoyment.

Liu: Clouds rise up in the sky; this symbolizes Waiting. The superior man enjoys his food and drink. He remains relaxed and happy.

Ritsema/Karcher: Above clouds with-respect-to heaven. Attending. A chun tzu uses drinking [and] taking-in to repose delighting.

Cleary (1): Clouds rise to heaven, waiting. The superior person makes merry with food and drink.

Wu: The clouds ascend to the sky; this is Waiting. Thus the jun zi enjoys food and peace.



Confucius/Legge: Waiting shows peril in front, but its subject does not allow himself to be involved in the dangerous defile. The success in sincerity and good fortune in firmness are shown by the position of the fifth line which is correctly situated in the central place assigned by Heaven. Crossing the great stream will be followed by meritorious achievement.

Legge: Waiting is composed of the lower trigram of strength and the upper trigram of peril. Strength confronted by peril might be expected to advance boldly and deal with it at once, but the lesson of the hexagram is that it is wiser to wait until success is sure. In the situation at hand, firm correctness is all that is required for eventual victory.

"Crossing the great stream" is a frequent expression in the I Ching which symbolizes the undertaking of hazardous enterprises, or encountering great difficulties. Historically it refers to the Yellow River which the lords of Chou had to cross in their revolution against the Yin Dynasty tyrants. The crossing made by King Wu in 1122 B.C. was one of the greatest deeds in the history of China, and was preceded by a long period of waiting until success could be assured.

Regarding the Image, it is said that the cloud that has risen to the top of the sky has nothing to do but wait until the harmony of heaven and earth require it to discharge its store of rain. The superior man is likewise counseled to enjoy his idle time while waiting for the correct moment to deal with the approaching danger.



Judgment: Strength in the face of danger here consists of the will to sit tight and do nothing.

The Superior Man carries on as if nothing was the matter, and nourishes himself through inaction.

There are many kinds of courage -- perhaps the greatest of all is the courage to remain unflinchingly in place when all the circumstances seem to cry out for action. It takes far more courage to wait for the dragon to slowly come to you than to rush forth and attack him in his lair. As a strategy, to out-wait your opponent through pure willpower and inner strength can be more effective than a direct attack -- but it can only succeed when you are truly strong. It is as if the real battle takes place on the inner planes, and the first one to act in the world thereby concedes defeat.

A very large part of the Work consists in disciplining oneself to wait -- to take no action until some indefinite time in the future. This is exceedingly difficult to do, and creates incredible stresses within the psyche -- which is exactly why it is necessary. Psychologically, to "cross the great stream" is to subdue all of the autonomous instincts, drives and emotions that are accustomed to responding whenever they are stimulated. As long as waiting creates feelings of stress, you can be sure that the battle has not been won. When you can wait like the superior man -- as if there were nothing else to do, then you can allow yourself to hope that you may be getting somewhere.

To nourish oneself through inaction is to digest and absorb the energy of one's instinctive responses. As in any nourishing assimilation, their strength then becomes your strength. The true adept is one who has digested all of his passion and is thereby empowered to use it for his own purposes. Instead of engaging in civil war, he has united his forces to act in the world.

Tradition says that Moses did not set the Tabernacle up straight away, but delayed for three months, despite the fact that the people wanted to dedicate it at once. In this is repeated a lesson of patience concerning matters of the spirit. For instead of accepting their Teacher's word, which conveyed the will of God, the Israelites sought to impose their own will over what they had made ... This phenomenon is not unknown among those who cannot wait, which is a vital part of esoteric training. Unfortunately, it has to be demonstrated over and over again that the timing of a spiritual event is contingent upon a cosmic schedule, and not the will of the individual.
Z.B.S. Halevi -- Kabbalah and Exodus


Legge: The first line, dynamic, shows its subject waiting on the distant border. It will be well for him to constantly maintain the purpose thus shown, in which case there will be no error.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Waiting in the meadow. It furthers one to abide in what endures. No blame.

Blofeld: Stay on the outskirts avoiding action. Constancy preserves from harm.

Liu: Waiting in the countryside. It is of benefit to continue. No regret.

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending tending-towards the suburbs. Harvesting: availing-of persevering. Without fault.

Shaughnessy: Moistened in the pasture; beneficial to use constancy; there is no trouble.

Cleary (1): Waiting on the outskirts, it is beneficial to employ constancy; then there is no fault.

Wu: He is waiting in the countryside. It will be advantageous for him to be persistent and thus free from blame.



Confucius/Legge: He makes no movement to encounter rashly the difficulties of the situation. There will be no error if he constantly maintains his purpose -- he will not fail to pursue that regular course. Wilhelm/Baynes: One does not seek out difficulties overhastily. One has not abandoned the general ground. Blofeld: Not rushing forward to undertake what is difficult to perform. Doing nothing out of the ordinary. Ritsema/Karcher: Not opposing heavy moving indeed. Not-yet letting-go rules indeed. Cleary (2): One has not entered into difficult actions. One has not yet lost normalcy. Wu: Not to proceed toward danger. Not to deviate from normal course.

Legge: The border means the frontier of the state. Line one appears at work in his distant fields, not thinking of anything but his daily work, and he is advised to abide in that state of mind. The "regular course" is the determination to maintain a distance from danger and wait for the proper time to act.



Siu: At the outset, there is a suggestion of danger. The man remains calm, concerns himself only with the immediate task at hand, and does not move to counteract remote threats.

Wing: Do not become agitated by your sense of an impending problem. Live your life as normally as possible and do nothing out of the ordinary. If there is a problem, it exists in the future. Acknowledging it now could diminish your strength.

Editor: A border is any threshold or boundary, such as the threshold between the conscious and unconscious minds. As yet the danger has not crossed this line, and we are advised not to go forth to meet it. Neither should we abandon our position, but just quietly allow the situation to unfold and define itself.

Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which now thou usest for present things.
Marcus Aurelius

A. Sit tight and allow the situation to unfold.

B. "Let sleeping dogs lie."


Legge: The second line, dynamic, shows its subject waiting on the sand of the mountain stream. He will suffer the small injury of being spoken against, but in the end there will be good fortune.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Waiting on the sand. There is some gossip. The end brings good fortune.

Blofeld: Inactivity upon the river beach -- some slight gossip may arise, but the final result will be good fortune. [Sitting on a river beach watching the water flow past symbolizes watching what is going forward without taking part.]

Liu: Waiting in the sand (seashore, bank of the river) arouses gossip. Good fortune in the end.

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending tending-towards sands. The small possesses words. Completing significant.

Shaughnessy: Moistened in the sand; there are a few words; in the end auspicious.

Cleary (1): Waiting on the sand, there is some criticism, but it turns out well.

Wu: He is waiting on the sand. He may hear little complaints. Eventually, there will be good fortune.



Confucius/Legge: He occupies his place in the center with a generous forbearance. He will bring things to a good issue. Wilhelm/Baynes: One is calm, for the line is central. Although this leads to some gossip, the end brings good fortune. Blofeld: The first sentence indicates a place with water flowing through the middle. Though there be gossip, all will be well in the end. Ritsema/Karcher: Overflowing located in the center indeed. Although the small possesses words, using completing significant indeed. Cleary (2): There is useless excess within. Though there is some criticism, it is to make the end auspicious. Wu: Indicates having forbearance. It will end with good fortune.

Legge: The sand of line two suggests a nearer approach to the defile, but he is still self-restrained and waiting. That he is a dynamic line in a magnetic and central place shows him to be possessed of a large and generous forbearance.



Siu: The danger approaches with disagreements and unrest. The man remains self-controlled and does not respond to slander.

Wing: What you propose to do will bring difficulties into your life. Furthermore, you could become a victim of gossip. If this occurs, don't try to defend yourself, as it will only lend weight to what is otherwise insubstantial. Success will eventually come.

Editor:"Sand” often symbolizes time -- the innumerable petty details of life, or the inexorable wearing away of hours, minutes, seconds. When combined with the image of a river bank (Legge, Blofeld, Liu), the notion of waiting for time and events to fulfill themselves is further emphasized. Psychologically, to be "spoken against" refers to the impatient urging of the instinctual-emotional part of the psyche which demands immediate gratification of every current desire. Wilhelm renders "being spoken against" as "gossip," which is rumor, speculation or imagination. (Cleary’s Buddhist text calls it “criticism.”) To exercise a “generous forbearance” means to endure and ignore these illusion-obsessed inner voices. Blofeld's note about "watching what is going forward without taking part” is especially insightful: the line often portrays a situation in which one is required by circumstances to be an inactive observer. If this is the only changing line, the new hexagram created is number 63, Completion, suggesting that passive contemplation is linked with fulfillment of the Work.

When Siddhartha listened attentively to this river, to this song of a thousand voices; when he did not listen to the sorrow or laughter, when he did not bind his soul to any one particular voice and absorb it in his Self, but heard them all, the whole, the unity; then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om -- perfection.
Hermann Hesse -- Siddhartha

A. Contemplate the unfolding situation: restrain your impulse to meddle, even if action seems necessary.

B. For the moment, maintain the status quo.


Legge: The third line, dynamic, shows its subject in the mud close by the stream. He thereby invites the approach of injury.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Waiting in the mud brings about the arrival of the enemy.

Blofeld: Inactivity amidst the mud -- this permits the approach of evil. [This suggests a danger of our being so bogged down that we can neither fight nor flee.]

Liu: Waiting in the mud brings on the enemy.

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending tending-towards bogs. Involving outlawry culminating.

Shaughnessy: Moistened in the mud; it causes robbers to arrive.

Cleary (1): Waiting in the mud brings on enemies.

Wu: He is waiting in the mud. This invites harm.



Confucius/Legge: He is waiting in the mud -- the calamity in the upper trigram is close at hand. He invites the approach of injury, but if he is reverent and careful, he will not be worsted. Wilhelm/Baynes: The misfortune is outside. Seriousness and caution prevent defeat. Blofeld: Remaining inactive in the midst of mud subjects us to external dangers, but the approaching evil will not harm us if we exercise care. [We must not allow the mud to bog us down.]Ritsema/Karcher: Calamity located outside indeed. Originating-from my involving outlawry. Respectful consideration, not destroying indeed. Cleary (2): Once I have brought on enemies, I am careful not to be defeated. Wu: Inviting harm is a self-inflicted act. With respect and caution, however, he will be free from defeat.

Legge: Here the subject is on the brink of the stream. His advance to this position has provoked resistance which may result in his injury.



Siu: The man attempts a complex undertaking without sufficient capacity for success in one try. He finds himself mired in the intricacies, thereby inviting enemies onto the scene. Caution is required.

Wing: Because of premature action on your part, inspired perhaps by anxiety, you will leave yourself open to attack. This situation is truly difficult because you are vulnerable. Only extreme caution will protect you.

Editor: In its most neutral interpretation, this line is an image of serious vulnerability: an unstable position invites attack. Mud is earth mixed with water. Psychologically, sensation (earth) and emotion (water) unite in a gooey morass of fear or anxiety which leaves one vulnerable to harm. Since the Work proceeds dialectically upward or downward, this position points out the danger of emotional responses: you could lose what you have gained unless you hold firm. Don't surrender to the complexes urging differentiation: heed the gnosis which counsels integration.

Instinctive reactions and emotional expressions thus shade imperceptibly into each other. Every object that excites an instinct excites an emotion as well.
William James

A. Emotional vulnerability threatens the ego's ability to act effectively.

B. You're on shaky footing -- take care.


Legge: The fourth line, magnetic, shows its subject waiting in the place of blood. But she will get out of the cavern.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Waiting in blood. Get out of the pit.

Blofeld: Inactivity amidst blood -- we shall emerge from the abyss.

Liu: Waiting in blood. Come out from the pit.

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending tending-towards blood. Issuing- forth originates-from the cave.

Shaughnessy: Moistened in the blood; it comes out from the cavity.

Cleary(1): Waiting in blood. Leaving the cave.

Wu: He is waiting in blood. He exits from the cave.



Confucius/Legge: She accommodates herself to the circumstances of the time, and hearkens to its requirements. Wilhelm/Baynes: He is yielding and obeys. Blofeld: To abstain from action amidst deeds of blood is to accord with the principle of allowing things to take their course. Ritsema/Karcher: Yielding uses hearkening indeed. Cleary (2): Means listening receptively. Wu: Waiting in blood calls for obedience.

Legge: Line four has passed from the lower to the upper trigram and entered the scene of danger and strife: "the place of blood." However, she is magnetic and in her correct place, so she withdraws from engagement with the enemy and is thereby enabled to escape from the cavern. Recognition of the circumstances of the time and yielding to its requirements are the lessons here. She acknowledges her inadequacies and takes the prudent step.



Siu: The man enters the scene of strife and danger in a life and death struggle. He accommodates himself to fate, stands fast, and refrains from aggravating the problem.

Wing: You are waiting in the very center of chaos. Any sort of confrontation with the problems that present themselves will only make things worse. Remove yourself immediately and unobtrusively from the situation.

Editor: Psychologically interpreted, this line sometimes implies that during a transitional phase in the dialectical process of individuation one must avoid any influence that might interfere with that process. Each translator uses a different word for what may be interpreted as an image of the unconscious psyche: "cavern," "pit," "abyss," "cave" and "cavity" all describe a hidden, dark, dangerous influence in the situation at hand.

For the ordinary esoteric aspirant the best approach to the evil within us is, after having recognized and faced it, to starve it, working only upon the development of the good and spiritual qualities. By developing the contact of the Spirit the psyche will eventually be so transformed that there is no room for evil within it. Direct work upon evil forces will tend to set up a polarity and occult link with these forces and this is one thing which must be sedulously avoided.
Gareth Knight --Qabalistic Symbolism

A. Withdraw from a dangerous position.

B. "Don't touch it with a ten-foot pole!"

C. Wait until the situation clarifies.


Legge: The fifth line, dynamic, shows its subject waiting amidst the appliances of a feast. Through his firmness and correctness there will be good fortune.

Wilhelm/Baynes: Waiting at meat and drink. Perseverance brings good fortune.

Blofeld: Inactivity amidst food and wine -- righteous persistence will bring good fortune. [We may safely relax and enjoy ourselves, but we must preserve our determination to act when the time is ripe.]

Liu: Waiting at the feast. Continuing brings good fortune.

Ritsema/Karcher: Attending tending-towards liquor taken-in. Trial: significant.

Shaughnessy: Moistened in the wine and food; determination is auspicious.

Cleary(1): Waiting with food and wine, it is good to be correct.

Wu: He is waiting at feasting. Perseverance brings good fortune.



Confucius/Legge: The good fortune is indicated by his being in the central

and correct place. Wilhelm/Baynes: Because of the central and correct character. Blofeld: The line is a firm one between two yielding lines. Ritsema/Karcher: Using centering correcting indeed. Cleary (2): Being centered correctly. Wu: Central and correct.

Legge: Line five is dynamic in the central and correct place of the ruler. All good qualities therefore belong to him. He has triumphed, and with firmness will continue to triumph.



Siu: The man fortifies his reserve strength by enjoying the intervals of peace between crises. At the same time he maintains his orientation to the ultimate goal with optimistic buoyancy.

Wing: Your difficulties are held in abeyance now and it is a good time to relax and gain perspective on the situation. While you enjoy your respite, keep in mind that there is still much to be done in the attainment of your goals.

Editor: This line recalls the Image -- the superior man "eats and drinks, feasts and enjoys himself as if there were nothing else to employ him." If this is the only changing line, the hexagram becomes number eleven: Harmony-- suggesting that one is situated very well indeed.

A meditating man may appear, at a glance, to be doing nothing. But as with Buddha seated under his Bohdi tree, this apparent physical inaction hid the cosmic activity of inner illumination.
Z.B.S. Halevi -- An Introduction to the Cabala

A. You are surrounded by nourishing influences – relax and allow the situation to mature.


Legge: The sixth line, magnetic, shows its subject entered into the cavern. But there are three guests coming, without being urged, to help her. If she receives them respectfully, there will be good fortune in the end.

Wilhelm/Baynes: One falls into the pit. Three uninvited guests arrive. Honor them, and in the end there will be good fortune.

Blofeld: Entering a pit. Three uninvited guests arrive; to honor them will ultimately bring good fortune.

Liu: Entering the pit, three unexpected guests arrive. Treat them courteously. Good fortune in the end.

Ritsema/Karcher: Entering tending-towards the cave. Possessing not urging's visitors. Three people coming. Respecting them: completing significant.

Shaughnessy: Entering into the cavity; there are unbidden guests, three men, who come; respect them; in the end auspicious.

Cleary (1): Entering a cave. Three people come, guests not in haste: Respect them, and it will turn out well.

Cleary (2): … Three unhurried guests come … etc.

Wu: He enters the cave. There come three uninvited guests. To receive them with respect will be auspicious in the end.



Confucius/Legge: There has been no great failure in what has been done. Wilhelm/Baynes: Although the line is not in its proper place, at least no great mistake is made. Blofeld: Nothing is lost by it. [There is a Chinese proverb which runs: `Being over-courteous excites no blame from others.'] Ritsema/ Karcher: Not-yet the great let-go indeed. Cleary (2): Even though you do not reach rank, still you have not lost much. Wu: Although his position is not tenable, he has not faulted badly.

Legge: The magnetic sixth line has entered deeply into the cavern. Her correlate third line comes with two dynamic companions from the lower trigram to give help. If they are respectfully received, that help will prove effectual.



Siu: The man falls into great complications. Everything looks black. But unexpected help arrives. If he is sensitive to it and accepts it graciously, there will be a happy turn of events.

Wing: The time is complex. The waiting is over because the difficulties are upon you. There appears to be no way out of the situation. Yet help arrives if you recognize it. To know and graciously accept such unexpected and unfamiliar assistance will turn the entire situation toward the good.

Editor: A cavern, a narrow, dark and restricted place, can refer to ignorance as well as danger. However, things here are not as dark as they may appear and the issue will improve if you are receptive to a solution. Waiting is the subjective experience of the passage of time. If time and consciousness are in some ways synonymous, then "waiting” implies the interval between ignorance and enlightenment.

What is experienced only in terms of a personal impasse can seem quite hopeless until and unless it receives a general human meaningfulness by being recognized as one's individual and perhaps discordant share in, or variation of, a general theme of human striving and seeking.
E.C. Whitmont -- The Symbolic Quest

A. The working out of an impasse -- respect the process by allowing it to unfold naturally.

B. “It is always darkest before the dawn."

July 5, 2001, 4/23/06