䷦ Jian
💧
🗻
Kan-Water
Gen-Mountain

Jian I Ching Gua Meaning

蹇 Jian ䷦ hexagram meanings:

Hardship, Stumbling, Obstruction, Trouble

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The thirty-ninth gua, Jian, translates to Hardship, trouble, or obstruction. It is associated with the eleventh month of the year, or December in the solar calendar. Jian originally meant lame and referred to the difficulty a lame person experiences when walking. This gua demonstrates the hardship that follows a divided household. Out of all sixty-four gua, only two forebode hardship. The first is Zhun, the third gua, meaning beginning. The second is Jian. In Zhun, hardship spurs from the creation of life itself. In Jian, hardship is a natural part of a human’s life journey. The thirty-ninth gua represents a time where one must practice being still and introspective to cultivate their virtue.

At the top of the ideograph representing Jian is the roof of a house. Below the roof are two bundles of grass representing bedding. Underneath this is a person with crutches protected from the cold by this bedding. The person’s crutches convey the difficulty they experience walking and refer to the meaning of Jian, hardship. The thirty-ninth gua indicates a situation where it is unfavorable to proceed. Rest and stillness are necessary before one may continue. Jian also expresses the need for a great person to overcome hardship. There are times when we may need help from a leader to surmount our suffering.

Jian is Water above Mountain, showing a relationship with many obstructions. Water is darkness and Mountain is stillness. Crossing a river is a difficult and dangerous task, as is scaling a mountain. This gua indicates that it is not the time to advance. Some hardships are unavoidable, and in this case, one must wait for the right moment to act. Keeping still does not mean giving up, it is simply not the right time to continue forward. The best thing one can do in this situation stands firm and wait for the perfect moment to move. It may also indicate the need to speak to a great person for advice. Perhaps it is time for a strong leader to lift the people out of suffering.

King Wen noticed that the people who accepted his invitation to Zhou had suffered hardship under Shang rule. He announced that they would be better off staying in Zhou rather than returning to Shang. The great person referenced by Jian most likely refers to King Wen. The people of Shang set off in search of this great person to help them overcome suffering. Jian represents this moment where no forward motion is made. Making a move prematurely is unadvisable and likely to result in misfortune. Instead of rushing to overthrow the tyrant immediately, King Wen waited and the people came to him for help. This pause is what Jian refers to as it asks us to confront our obstacles. This tale of King Wen and his new followers teaches us an important part of overcoming hardship. It is time to assess the damage and develop a plan.

䷦ Jian hexagram

Jian ䷦ Jian hexagram Illustration

䷦ Jian hexagram meaning

A time of hardship
Is a good moment for
A great man to appear.
Southwest favors fortune,
Northeast is adverse. 

Bottom Line

Jian Bottom Line Illustration

Bottom Line meaning


Enduring the hardships of your chosen path
Brings you honor when you return. 

Line Two

Jian Line Two Illustration

Line Two meaning


Officers are stuck in the middle,
Nipped at from above and below.
They endure many hardships
That never were their fault.

Line Three

Jian Line Three Illustration

Line Three meaning


So many difficulties can be foreseen
On this journey you would make,
It is better to return.

Line Four

Jian Line Four Illustration

Line Four meaning


You will suffer much
As you travel on your route,
But you will gain an ally
When you’re back.

Line Five

Jian Line Five Illustration

Line Five meaning


Adversity will dog your path,
But you will find rich treasure.

Top Line

Jian Top Line Illustration

Top Line meaning


Hardships were the cobbles of your path,
But still you brought back treasure.
This is good fortune,
And foretells the rise of a great man.

Comments: I Ching Illustrated Book of Changes

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