This hexagram outlines the foundation of proper conduct within ourselves, with those with whom we may have conflicts, and within the larger society. It serves to remind us that no genuine gains can be made unless we are rooted firmly in the principles of the Sage.
An image often associated with this hexagram is that of treading on the tail of a tiger. The “tiger” may be some strong or malevolent force in your own personality, or it may be a particularly volatile individual or situation with which you have to deal. In either case the advice of the I Ching is the same: one avoids the bite of a tiger by treading carefully. To tread carefully means that we remain steadfastly innocent and conscientious in our thoughts and actions.
It is inevitable that people will display varying levels of spiritual understanding. It is not our duty to condemn or correct others, but simply to go on developing ourselves. Do not imagine that you can hasten your progress through aggressive actions now. Power that is sought and wielded pridefully has a way of evaporating when you need it most, thus exacerbating your difficulties. The only lasting influence is that which arises naturally from a course of steady development.
In the end, it is our inner worth that determines the outer conditions of our lives. Those who resolve to persevere in humility, sincerity, and gentleness can tread anywhere – even on the tail of a tiger – and meet with success.
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