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.
18: Repairing What is Spoiled
General Meaning: Something is starting to rot and it is time to repair the damage. In the world of human affairs, indulgence and corruption grow like weeds in an untended garden; they must be faced squarely, and rooted out through bold action. Eliminating corruption — and the sloppiness that leads to it — is one of the most ennobling of all human enterprises. Correction of flaws in the system clears the way for fresh, new beginnings.
The time has come to become lean and efficient. The weeds must be rooted out now, before the garden is overwhelmed. Fighting decay, sloppiness and corrupt agendas is not a simple matter; all steps must be evaluated carefully. Planning must precede action. Resist the temptation to strike out prematurely. Gather strength behind you, and summon your inner resources, because arresting decay is no simple task. When you do act, make your strike as precise and clean as the path of the surgeon’s knife.