General Meaning: The trigram earth is above that of heaven, and heaven seems to be on earth. The gravity of matter merges with the upward radiation of light to merge in deep harmony. This juxtaposition denotes a time of peace and blessings for all living things. In the affairs of humans, tranquility comes when the good, strong and powerful show favor to those of lower status, and those of more modes means are well disposed towards those who are currently blessed. This condition marks an end to feuding. In such a state, it is best to let the energy ride high. The way is cleared, and the prospects for great success are outstanding.
Chaotic forces still abide in nature, but man, by carefully responding to the rhythms and cycles of the world around him, can find peace in the natural world. By planting the right crop in the right place in the right season, the farmer brings harmony to the cultivation of plants, and prosperity to his family. Similarly, any business must adjust to the natural cycles of the season; only through flexibility and adaptation can order and growth be maintained. Peaceful times produce a time of flowering and prosperity; the wise person channels positive energy to all quarters, to each in proper proportion, just as a farmer waters his field. But be vigilant. Otherwise, peaceful conditions will foster the growth of weeds as well as flowers
10: Treading Carefully
General Meaning: People of ability find their way and make progress even in difficult circumstances. Consider your steps carefully when you are surrounded by changing forces. Weak and strong forces (or people) can co-exist when the weaker element does not impose upon the stronger, when the weaker maintains good humor and avoids taking bold action. When treading among sleeping tigers — or slippery stones — step gingerly and don’t stumble.
In the company of strong, brash people, rushing wildly ahead brings misfortune. Now is not a good time for taking the initiative; rather, try getting by with a little grace and good humor. In the court of a powerful king, the jester often has more power than the prince.
General Meaning: A joy that is shared is symbolized by a group of friends playing, or a carefree young girl singing to herself while engaged in her work. Happiness is rising within, and spreading out into the world.
Joy arises through gentle means, but springs from a solid inner base. The power of pure joy should not be underestimated. The enjoyment of learning and discovery, for example, has let to great innovation and much material progress. Accordingly, that which brings the most joy into the world — love — is the source of life itself.
If happiness is supported by personal stability, it will eventually wear down the stiffest barrier and win over the hardest heart. True joy is a beacon in the world, and though it is indeed rare, its presence is an indication of great good fortune, both now and in the future. How could it be otherwise?
38: Diverging Interests
General Meaning: An image of estrangement is indicated here. One example used in ancient Chinese texts is how when brothers and sisters marry, they grow apart, since their allegiances now lie with new family groups. Though they will remain close enough to successfully deal with problems and share minor interests, they will be unable to undertake anything big together. Simply put, when people grow apart — even for the most natural of reasons — their points of view, values and interests start to diverge.
Diverging interests bring opposition into the world of human affairs. And when differences morph into alienation and enmity, no good results. But when opposition takes the form of healthy competition, or when contrasting energies or positions are seen as part of the natural order of things, good fortune is still possible.
Even when diverging energies make a situation seem stagnant or futile, there are always creative possibilities inherent in polarities. One is reminded of the yin-yang interplay that is fundamental to the creation of life itself. But when opposition arises from issues of principle, you must hold to your integrity and individuality. And avoid becoming involved with vulgar or base people who do not share your values. With both people and companies, one measure of stature is the quality of the competition.
54: Careful Affection
General Meaning: Affection is the basis of all lasting relationships, but must be channeled properly in order to bring satisfaction, and support the self-esteem of both parties. For example, a married person’s lover would necessarily have conflicted feelings: affection coupled with insecurity. Relationships based mainly on personal attraction, especially those that are outside the mainstream, require special caution and tactful reserve.
If you assert yourself too much, or try to make yourself indispensable, you will only incur misfortune. It is never easier to make disastrous mistakes than when you venture outside the bounds of propriety. If you are in doubt as to whether you should follow your heart or your head, allow for some time to pass, and perhaps the answer will become clear. Initiating any action could bring misfortune. Do not attempt to be too creative or attract favorable attention at this time.
60: Limits and Connections
General Meaning: Limits are necessary to give purpose and direction to life. Swimming in a sea of boundless opportunity would eventually lead to exhaustion and drowning. Winging it alone in a sky of boundless opportunity would lead to being lost. In human affairs, the making of choices, and alliances, implies limitation, for in choosing one path another must be abandoned.
One key to a successful life is to select your limits consciously and carefully — to be discriminating in the setting of personal boundaries and knowing when to join in formation. Thrift, for example, often precedes prosperity; just as the letting go of selfish interests leads to greater personal reward. Only by consciously accepting useful limits can one’s energy be channeled to good purpose, and lead to lasting accomplishments.
Point yourself toward a middle way between discipline and freedom of spirit. Limits will come of their own accord; but to be able to consciously select your own affiliations in life — that’s knowing how to fly! At the same time, don’t go overboard with discipline. Even self-correction must be limited, so that in attempting to bring order and direction into your life you do not choke off vital sources of enthusiasm and spontaneity.
Similarly, in groups and partnerships, agreed upon rules or regulations should strike a balance between being too strict and too soft. If too strict, they build frustration and ultimately become destructive. If too lenient, sloppiness becomes acceptable, and positive energy is dissipated. The best path is one that allows for the fulfillment of individual potential, while supporting self-discipline and focus.
General Meaning: Increase and decrease are part of the natural cycle of life. As spiritual author long ago put it, ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Like a reservoir that is being used to irrigate the fields, learning to accept a decrease in position or material possessions is part of preparing for increase in the future.
We may live in materialistic times, but there is no disgrace in material decrease, particularly if it represents an investment in future gain — even if that gain be in the form of one’s education or the development of personal character. Likewise, the inner strength that comes from bearing loss can be balanced by a corresponding increase in inner strength and insight — as in the expression ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ When letting go of attachment and personal demands leads to a greater simplicity in daily life, good fortune often comes calling.
In nature, the lake evaporates to form the clouds that drop the rain that nurtures the surrounding forest. As the forest grows thick, more rain is captured for the lake. Similarly, an ‘evaporation’ or decrease in one area of your life, may give rise to an eventual increase in another. A loss of responsibility at work can mean more free time; more free time may generate more career options. A period of decrease is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it can free the spirit and fill the soul.
Be mindful of the lesson of young lovers: even with a minimum of possessions, feelings of the heart can bring an unsurpassed richness to life. The smallest of actions, if sincere, have value. So remain confident, for a time of decrease may actually bode good fortune, especially if you remain open to that possibility.
Let go of frustration, resistance and regret over whatever may be going down at this time. Accept the cycle, and remember what goes down must come up.
General Meaning: Fellowship. When communal bonds unite people, great success is possible. But such bonds can develop only when personal interests are subordinated to goals that serve the greater good of all. The broader the basis for action, the greater the benefits that can be achieved. And conversely, the greater the potential good, the more powerful the support behind it. A spirit of cooperation steadies the boat, but it helps to have a beautiful island to row towards.
Learn to respect the strength in diversity, for a community’s true power lies not in its numbers, but in the diverse skills and resources of its members. Just as the stoutest walls are reinforced with many different materials, so the strongest groups allow differences to co-exist inside the whole.
With a unified group solidly behind you, even difficult enterprises can be attempted without great risk
55: Great Abundance
General Meaning: A time of abundance comes into full flower when the powers of leadership and teamwork are at their peak. The situation is like that of the sun at midday — a high noon of clarity, insight and progress. Such peak periods can be brief. Whether this refers to a national cycle, a business boom or a period of abundance, it is important to bale your hay while the sun is shining.
During a period of abundance, it benefits one to show benevolence, to share the fruit of one’s good fortune. Think of good deeds now as a hedge against times of scarcity in the future. This reading bodes well for expansion in love, the raising of children and the nurturing of a healthy family or any close-knit group.
General Meaning: A community or extended family that works is one where healthy interdependence is appreciated and supported. Good direction is essential, but strong kinship is dependent upon every member of the community. Trust, shared responsibilities and good communication are essential. Each member must be encouraged to find his or her appropriate expression, and contribution.
The functional family is a team that symbolizes the ideal of human interdependence, and has long provided a firm foundation for society. The healthy family is a microcosm of society and the native soil in which ethical values take root and grow. Fertilize this soil, and the whole of society benefits.
The power that bonds a tribe is the yin or feminine principle — gentleness and receptivity. Relationships are improved through cultivation of these. Learn to accept both advice and aid from others, and be willing to assume an appropriate role in any group that supports good relating. A good team player is always valuable to others. Increase your value!