I Ching Hexagram #15: Humility




At first glance, it might seem a bit disconcerting to receive “Humility” as your hexagram for today. Often times, humility comes unwillingly as a harsh reminder of not getting too much of oneself. We are forced to eat “humble pie” when our arrogance has caused us to falsely claim honors which are not ours to claim.

But there is another side to humility. Deng Ming-Dao’s interpretation from The Living I Ching offers us a different way of thinking of humility. Ming-Dao suggests that humility is only available to us when we are coming from a place of strength. Like compassion, it is a way that we are able to give to others. It is a voluntary relinquishment of your “credit” to provide the space for others to have the spotlight. In this way, our humility is a measurement of our strength.

This hexagram is the image of a mountain underneath the earth. If we build our spiritual and personal foundation as a mountain underneath the earth, it cannot be seen from above but it is supremely strong. We have the flexibility to adapt to change because we are not afraid of being exposed as a failure. We have already accepted and adopted failure as our ally. Being humble, we have nothing to prove because we have already given up our prestige.

This is a proactive stance to humility. As Hua Ching Ni says in his interpretation, “Weed your mental field.” Search out the places where your strength is also your vulnerability. Instead of letting humility be laid upon you in karmic backsplash kind of way, seek it out.


Practice it. Live it.


There is great strength in this.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I had not thought of humility as strength. People often comment to me how humble I am but I translated that as they thought I was weak because I am the first to admit if I make a mistake. I believe I can learn from each life experience. Thank you for this different perspective for me!
    Elda recently posted…Where The Cat’s Tail Leads UsMy Profile

  2. I really like Ming-Dao’s take on humility. I think a perfect example of someone who is humble is the Dalai Lama. I think this comes from the perspective of seeing the divine within everything and everyone, knowing we’re all on equal footing.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…Miscellany: L is for…My Profile

  3. Deng Ming-Dao’s interpretation is unexpected for me and it’s a great way of looking at humility. But I’m not having a great time with the image of a mountain underneath the earth. I like the ideas behind it, but the image itself is simply refusing to turn into an attractive place in my imagination.
    Tat recently posted…Just a thought about sleep…My Profile

    • Perhaps there was an earthquake in your history, Tat? Think of it as standing on a big flat rock. No matter where we live, even in Minnesota, there is the potential of a mountain beneath our feet. It’s strength lies in its potential, just like all of us. Mountains are strong, grounding. Normally, they are majestic and outward appearances that make themselves known, but in this case it is an incredible strength that is hidden from view. The Ancient Taoists often speak of keeping your strengths hidden from view. This is a good thing. It is not that you are hiding them because you are unsure of yourself, it is that you are hiding them intentionally so that you are giving space to others to shine. I loved his interpretation. It redefined this word for me. I always kind of knew that as a way to think of it, but reading his take on it was like a wake up call for me. Good stuff. Thanks for reading and participating, Tat!
      amy recently posted…Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 74My Profile

  4. I often gloat when I’m proud of something, but it is so true that a real position of strength has no need to bring attention to itself. I like how you put it, “to allow others to shine”. When I look around, it is the quiet strengths I admire the most, a trait I love about someone close to me. Thanks for updating your blog, dear sis.

    • Thanks, Kristin. I think that wanting to speak up when we are proud of something is very normal, but it is fun to consider other ways to be. It’s a constant challenge. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my work! By the way, I don’t think that you gloat much. I probably gloat way more than you do! 😉
      amy recently posted…Scattered Life Collective: November 21stMy Profile

  5. Thanks for steering me here from my blog – I like this perspective a lot. We all need to be humble, and accept failure as part of life. To strive for perfection is not a bad thing, we should always want to do our best, but accept the failures along the way.
    Vickie Martin Conison recently posted…GO PLAY! SERIOUSLYMy Profile

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