strong within, gentle without

shaun tan


True joy is

experienced by those who

are strong within and

gentle without.


The hexagram Tui teaches us how to come into possession of joy. In our search for success and happiness we are prone to think that we must take aggressive actions to achieve them. The instruction of the I Ching is just the opposite: only those who practice innocence, acceptance, and detachment inherit true joy in this world.

We often see around us how forcible effort brings about what appears to be progress. Our egos tempt us to believe that these gains are lasting and valuable, but the truth is otherwise. Whatever is won by the desirous, ambitious, demanding manipulations of the ego will soon be lost. Others can always be temporarily browbeaten into doing things our way, but only hearts won by friendliness and sincere goodwill are true over time.

The I Ching teaches us again and again that joy and success cannot be forced or stolen. They are achieved gradually—but steadily—by those who relate correctly to others and to the Higher Power. To relate correctly means to steadfastly practice innocence, detachment, acceptance, modesty, and gentleness. Life is full of shortcuts, but this is the only route that leads to true joy.

The image of the hexagram is that of two lakes joined together to keep from drying up. It is an encouragement to us to join with like-minded friends now in the discussion and contemplation of higher things. If we engage in an ongoing conversation about proper principles with our friends, our relationship to truth is steady and our ego cannot seduce us into the doubt, fear, and anxiety that lead away from joy.

In your heart, be firm in holding to what is good and honest and correct. In your thoughts and actions, be gentle and accepting. Those who persevere on this path will meet with true joy and lasting success.


from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 58, Tui / The Joyous


One who dabbles in inferior emotions,
attitudes, and actions will be undone by them.
Let these things go and return to
innocence and truth.

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