36: Darkening of the Light
General Meaning: When light becomes dim, it may be wise to become invisible. The image is of fresh darkness, the period after the sun has gone down or the fire has gone out. There is still much activity left over from the light of day, while movements in the outer world become more dangerous. Even the smallest sound, the faintest glow of light, can attract unwanted attention.
When the darkness of stupidity reigns, it is best that your own brilliance stay ‘hidden under a bushel basket.’ That is, your thoughts and efforts should be quiet and self-contained, and protected, as much as possible, from disruptive influences.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be swept along on the current of conventional wisdom when dangerous uncertainties exist. Try not to become too depressed or anxious; this period will pass. Just endure it for now and inwardly preserve your self-confidence, while outwardly remaining cooperative and flexible. The time to assert yourself will come. Avoid looking too far ahead if you have not yet achieved your goals. That only feeds regret and longing, which can eat away at your inner resources.
Be cautious and reserved. Control yourself. Do not needlessly awaken dormant forces of opposition. During dark, unsettled periods, it is best to step gingerly around the sleeping dogs.
General Meaning: Innocence flows from a natural harmlessness, openness and pure intentions, unsullied by ulterior motives. The state of innocence has less to do with age than attitude; innocence springs from a heart that remains open to joy and wonder. Innocence, when guided by a firm faith in what is right, brings supreme success. Naiveté unanchored by an ability to discern right from wrong, on the other hand, brings misfortune.
The hallmark of innocence is a willingness to treat others with compassion and respect in a natural way. Those who possess a pure heart are best guided by their instincts and intuition. Thinking too much makes it difficult to hear the guidance of the heart, the suggestions of a clear intuition. Stay simple and be wary of cleverness.
General Meaning: Following brings supreme success. You may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but by frequently adjusting your sails, you can arrive at your destination.
Those who would acquire a following must speak the language of their followers. Those who would be loved must become the envisioned lover of their beloved. Those who would prosper must bend with natural forces and the pressures of society. In matters of principle, stand firm; in matters of style and taste, swim with the current.
In all human affairs, change is constant. In order to stay fresh, old ideas and patterns must continually be discarded in favor of new ones. Only by being adaptable to the demands of the time can the highest good emerge. Only by adjusting to changing circumstances can you prosper. Remain flexible, and you will gain the confidence of those around you. Bend and you shall not break.
56: The Wanderer
General Meaning: A seasoned traveler knows that a special kind of decorum is called for when one ventures far from home. He or she must develop a yielding nature outwardly, so that the ‘local contact’ or host can open doors and prevent unseemly errors. But inwardly, the wanderer knows that it is sometimes impossible to discern the true intentions of strangers — are they hostile, friendly or merely opportunistic?
The twin houses of mystery and discovery rule any journey. Each new day is launched on a fresh landscape, one that reaches out to grab our full attention. Though new adventures are a great teacher — and often a great equalizer — there is an art to living lightly in a strange land. Mindfulness and discernment become the keys not only to success, but also to survival.
If you are entering a new environment of any sort attempt to be sincere, flexible and undemanding, rather than obstinate. Let go of old attitudes and habits that could encumber you, or make you overly conspicuous. The onset of a great journey is not a favorable time to enter into binding agreements, or to start new enterprises.
62: Attention to Detail
General Meaning: Ambitious undertakings are not in order now, but attention to small matters brings progress. Such is the case of a person whose resources are meager, but who, through modesty and perseverance, rises to accomplish great things.
The key to success when small potential influences the larger scene is to avoid pretentious ambitions and grandiose goals. The power of the small is served by slow and steady advancement, and succeeds through an honest awareness of its own limitations, without reservation.
Modesty stemming from recognizing your limitations is a fine quality, but it can be seen as weakness if it is not accompanied by conscientiousness. It is important to understand the demands of your situation, and not to expect success in big things right now. The wise person recognizes the nature of the time. So, know your own role, carefully attend to details and act with humility, and you can achieve your goal even with few resources
53: A Steady Pace
General Meaning: Like an ancient old-growth forest — where the subtle play of light, texture and shadows is the product of a process measured in centuries and inches — most things of lasting value develop gradually, at their own pace. The ability to learn from experience — one of humanity’s greatest capacities — implies constant yet gradual progress. The combination of stillness within and determination without are the essence of this dynamic. Good things sometimes sprout quickly; the truly delightful take much longer.
The principle of gradual development applies also to human relationships. For love and marriage or any important partnership to endure, progress must be slow but steady: slow enough to allow for the bonds to knit properly; steady enough to keep moving in the right direction.
You can’t expect to have everything all at once. Development must be allowed to take its proper course and allotted time; events must neither be rushed nor manipulated, but allowed to unfold naturally. In this way, you will come to enjoy long-lasting relationships and achieve success.
39: Temporary Obstacles
General Meaning: Have temporary obstacles been blocking your way? In the course of trying to reach a goal or to fulfill a personal ambition, obstructions inevitably present themselves. This is not always a bad thing. Obstacles, difficulties and even setbacks that are eventually overcome often turn into assets. Without irritating grains of sand, oysters would never make pearls.
The obstacles pointed to here are not permanent, yet they are in the way. As when a large boulder falls in the road, the best course of action is usually to go around it, rather than to try to move it out of the way. Temporary obstacles must be seen for what they are — temporary — and should not be allowed to take on too much significance.
A positive aspect of even the most difficult obstacle is that it may cause a person to turn inward, and gain greater depth and character. While the ignorant bemoan their fate and seek to blame their problems on others, the wise seek the cause of the problem within themselves. Through this type of introspection, obstacles become a means for personal growth and self-discovery.
Without air resistance, no plane would ever fly.
If you are facing temporary obstacles, try not to be overly concerned. Obstacles are a part of achieving every goal and furthering every undertaking. Setbacks and reverses can affect morale, but keeping up your self-confidence in the face of challenges is part of a successful solution to many of life’s problems. Obstacles of short duration are best handled with a yielding attitude. Go around the rock, don’t put your shoulder to it.
52: Keeping Still
General Meaning: Regular periods of keeping still are an important aspect of personal development and forward motion. The most restful person may not be the one who sleeps twelve hours a day, but the one able to grab catnaps while cruising 600 miles-per-hour at 35,000 ft. Learning to act when it is time to act, and to keep still when it is time to keep still, is the key to obtaining the peace of mind which helps you stay focused when clear focus is needed.
Consider the spine, which serves as a switchboard for all the nerves of the body that mediate movement. When the spine is kept flexible and healthy through proper rest and relaxation, active movement can always be undertaken without strain. When the spine is held erect in a balanced sitting posture, the inner balancing of meditation can take place.
Treat your innate spark of energetic vitality like a candle in the wind you are protecting, as your only light in a dark forest on a moonless night. Avoid external conditions that threaten to snuff out the flame, and be careful not to suffocate it with your own ambitions of worries.
Time out. Relax now, take your shoes off and sit a spell. Let go of thinking. Breathe and meditate on the breathing.
General Meaning: Humility is often rewarded in human affairs, just as the erosion of a great mountain fills the valley. It is the way of nature to fill the empty cup. Regardless of your position, humility is a positive and deceptively powerful attribute. If you are in a high position but are still humble, people will be drawn to you and the causes you espouse. If your position is lowly, humility will endear you to those of higher status. True humility is a virtue to which all should aspire.
The most successful and happiest people are those who know how to bring each situation into balance by reducing that which is too great, and adding to that which is too little. Such a person craves not power, but balanced and stable relationships. Humility is the virtue that supplies the balancing power, as humble people are not prey to the many illusions that grow out of self-importance. If humility is not natural to your disposition, make a conscious effort to develop a strain of self-effacing humor.
45: Coming Together
General Meaning: The power of gathering together is represented by a rally, where each individual’s strength is magnified by the power of their community. History has shown that mass movements can bring about stable, ordered and durable conditions for the better. This hexagram may be pointing to an auspicious time for large undertakings. But the guiding force of your shared vision is essential to hold the forces of unity together, and keep them advancing toward a common goals and values.
Another image for this situation is that of a lake filling with water. Just as the fullness of the lake can bring good fortune to all in its sphere, it can also overflow, leading to calamity. Thus in a time of gathering together it is essential that precautions against excesses be considered along with efforts to advance along a clearly-charted course. Much of human misfortune comes from unexpected events for which we are ill prepared; when gathered together with others, we are both more powerful and, in some ways, also more vulnerable.
Any time of unified coming together is a time of great potential. But the potential can be both positive and negative. Everything is magnified when people unite around a central shared purpose. When many people unite behind a single goal or strong vision, it is wise to take personal precautions to protect your own reasonable self-interests, because these can easily be lost in the crowd