63: After Completion
General Meaning: It is a fine irony that after completion of some project or great enterprise, there is still much left to do. Completion is merely a pause in the cycle of creation and decay, a momentary still point for the swinging pendulum of life. Though completion does imply a period of restful pause — one that usually has been well earned — it is not an actual end, but rather a uniquely harmonious flat spot in the constancy of change and movement.
The image of After Completion is that of a kettle of water boiling over a fire. When the forces are balanced, the water boils properly; but if the pot is too full, it may boil over and put out the fire; or, if the fire is too hot, it may evaporate all the water. In the equilibrium that follows the completion of something significant, the current dynamics must be watched carefully to assure that a proper balance is maintained.
After Completion is the time for fine-tuning, for refinements and embellishments of what has already been accomplished.
Even if we are enjoying a rewarding situation right now, the laws of the natural world dictate that influence and success will eventually decline. So, don’t let current good fortunes prompt careless or relaxed attitudes. A successful endeavor or partnership needs to be carefully tended and maintained. What is incomplete should be finished, and brought to fruition without delay.
Take satisfaction upon completion, but do not dwell on it. To do so could bring a halt to your influence and capability.
21: Cutting Through
General Meaning: The situation calls for confronting a knotty conflict and cutting through it. Somehow, the way to harmony and unity is blocked or frustrated — perhaps by a tangle of misunderstandings or outright deceit. Like Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian knot, assert yourself now and you will meet with good fortune. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. The ability to take corrective measures when they are needed is an essential trait of true leadership.
But those who bring discipline to bear must, above all, be honest — with others, and with themselves. Honesty is the hallmark of the strong and self-confident. The successful person masters the art of honesty much as a swordsman masters fencing. When lies, delusions and game playing are getting in the way of teamwork, a swift sword of honest action, perhaps even correction, must be wielded to protect one’s integrity and values. Decisiveness with integrity brings good fortune.
Though your actions be vigorous, they must not be hasty, severe or arbitrary. Be sure to carefully consider all the circumstances. In the case of a serious disruption of relations, you must forgive, but not forget to give a person a chance to make reparations for his mistakes. If some penalty or punishment is necessary, make certain that it fits the crime. When boundaries have become slack and useless, only through the institution of clear and swift correction can their effectiveness be restored.
In situations where serious issues of justice are at stake, keep careful records and do not hesitate to go public with the truth.
General Meaning: One hears thunder unexpectedly! First comes fear, then a sharpening of one’s vision. Recall a close brush with danger — a falling branch, an automobile accident barely avoided, an escape from a potentially violent confrontation. Such incidents arouse every nerve fiber in your body in a brief wave of terror, but soon, once the danger has passed, give way to a heightened awareness of the world. The same process also occurs with other types of shock — the loss of a job, the sudden departure of a loved one, business failure and so on.
The lasting impact of a major shock can either be stimulating or debilitating, depending upon one’s strength of character. The critical factor is the ability to shake off fear, thereby transforming anxiety into a laser-sharp perception of the world around you.
When overtaken by crisis, the wise search their hearts for inner strengths in order to face their life with courage. This often means daring to take an unexpected path — to bounce back quickly and self-confidently after failures, to have faith in the eternal when confronted with death.
We tend to think of shock only in the context of unpleasant events. We can also be jarred, however, by the sudden release of tension that comes with unexpected joy or success. To keep your bearings in the aftershock of either trauma or victory, it is essential that your inner compass be aligned with ‘true north’, that magnetic force which guides you toward fulfillment of both your deepest desire, and your highest destiny.
General Meaning: Substantial progress and increasing prosperity is pointed to. In whatever forms it takes, periods of increase are exhilarating, as long as you go with the flow while it lasts and keep the interests of others in mind. Like white water on a river, periods of increase are often of short duration; it furthers one, therefore, to shoot the rapids now, while the opportunity is there.
A good sense of direction in times of opportunity involves commitment to the needs of one’s cohorts and dependents. Only by realizing that to lead is really to serve, can an effective leader contribute to a lasting increase in prosperity for all. In times of general increase, those who contribute most directly to the common good will also receive the greatest rewards.
When opportunities for increase arise, supreme good fortune comes to those who act swiftly and boldly, while avoiding the trap of letting their actions be only self-serving. If you aspire to a position of prominence, the most enduring strategy is to work to raise the tide of your entire pond, rather than to try to swim upstream on your own.
When the times favor prosperity, and when leadership is in the hands of the broad-minded, supreme good fortune results.
General Meaning: Nourishment refers to more than a healthy diet. It is the care-giving function. Eating properly implies care for oneself; providing healthy meals in the home is a sign of caring for the family. The writer of a great book or composer of an inspiring piece of music also provides nourishment, by caring deeply about the quality of his or her work and offering it to the world.
We can know others by observing what they choose to nourish in their lives. Do they properly feed and develop their bodies? Do they cultivate their spirits, their intellects, their moral values? Do they nourish and care for those around them? If so, to whom do they devote their energies? The most successful people are temperate in eating and drinking, thinking and dreaming. They strengthen the world by nurturing everyone’s higher nature.
Pay heed to your thoughts and impulses, ignoring those that undermine a healthy and persevering attitude. A wise person is temperate in the consumption of food and drink, because to be otherwise only leads to discomfort; the fact that temporary pleasure may precede the discomfort does not influence the person of mature character. In the same way, be discriminating in your words and actions, lest a desire for temporary advantage lead you to cause pain for yourself or others. Enrich your character and you will naturally nourish everyone around you.
General Meaning: The attraction is strong, but the relationship is not destined to last. So, be careful — the magnetism of polarized forces may not be what it seems. An apparently harmless, but potentially dangerous, energy has attracted attention to itself and is pulling on a stronger one. The ancient image is of a bold but immature girl who uses her charms to gain influence with a stable, powerful man. The man dallies with her, thinking that it can do him no harm. Ha, famous last thoughts! When power shifts into the hands of those unprepared for it, harm comes to all parties.
Still, you need not fear meetings with those whose positions are widely different from your own, as long as you can remain free of ulterior motives.
Be especially wary of temptations that arise because of your connections to important people. Generally, it is best to combat such temptations by snipping them in the bud before they can flower. Just as soon as a dangerous liaison presents itself is the time to take note and speak up. On the other hand, there are times when the meeting of the yielding and the strong turn out to be opportunities for truly positive and constructive relationships. The difference between careless connection and a relationship of depth lies in the motives of the heart. How sincere are you?