The hexagram Shih is a guide to proper conduct in the face of adversity. It is inevitable that we sometimes face trials and challenges in life. How we prepare ourselves, by whom we are led, and how we conduct ourselves during these “wars” determines whether we are victorious or not. The I Ching counsels us to follow the example of a first-rate army.
A truly powerful army always consists of a number of devoted soldiers who discipline themselves under the leadership of a superior general. If he has achieved his position through force, the general will not last for long and he will lose the support of his army when he needs it most. If on the other hand he has become a leader through superior conduct and even-handed treatment of this fellow soldiers, then his power is well consolidated and it endures.
So it is with us. Only by conducting ourselves humanely and with persevering balance can we have a genuine influence in trying times. There is always the temptation to be led into battle by our egos, but we are guaranteed a humiliating defeat if we turn our inferiors loose in this way. A superior person achieves victory in the same fashion as a superior army: by putting his inferior emotions under the guidance of his superior emotions, and by proceeding cautiously, modestly, and with the continual goal of achieving peace and detachment.
You are advised to prepare for a trial now. Your chances of success will be determined by how you conduct yourself within and without. If you remain alert, modest, just, and independent, all will go well. If you are gentle and humane, you will have the allegiance of those around you. Advance cautiously when the time is right, and when it is not, do not allow your ego to stand in the way of retreat and disengagement.
Remember that the ultimate victory in any battle comes when we regain our inner independence, our neutrality, and our equanimity. These can only be won by placing our inferiors under the leadership of our superiors. Do this now, and success will be yours.