lasting progress is won through quiet self-discipline

mark thorpe

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.

from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 10, Lü / Treading


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be absorbed in the now



present moment

is the source of everything.

As long as you have resentments

about the past or ideas about

the future, you cannot

genuinely be in

the present.


You owe it

to your future self,

and to the rest of us, to be

completely absorbed here and

now. Make all notions of past

and future a cool pile

of ashes in the



Wei wu Wei Ching, Chapter 30

Paperback / Kindle here




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the sheikh who played with children


A certain

young man was asking

around.  “I need to find a wise person.

I have a problem.” A bystander said, “There’s

no one with intelligence in our town except that man

over there playing with the children, the one riding

the stick-horse. He has keen, fiery insight and

vast dignity like the night sky, but he

conceals it in the madness of

child’s play.” 


The young

seeker approached the

children. “Dear father, you who

have become as a child,

tell me a secret.”


“Go away.

This is not a day for

secrets.” “But please! Ride your

horse this way, just for a minute.” The sheikh

play-galloped over. “Speak quickly. I can’t hold this one

still for long. Whoops. Don’t let him kick you. This is a wild

one!” The young man felt he couldn’t ask his serious

question in the crazy atmosphere, so he

joked, “I need to get married. Is

there someone suitable on

this street?”


“There are

three kinds of women

in the world. Two are griefs, and

one is a treasure in the world. The first,

when you marry her, is all yours. The second

is half-yours, and the third is not yours at all. Now get

out of here, before this horse kicks you in the head!

Easy now!” The sheikh rode off among the

children. The young man shouted,

“Tell me more about

the kinds of



The sheikh,

on his cane horsey,

came closer, “The virgin of

your first love is all yours. She will

make you feel happy and free. A childless widow

is the second, she will be half yours. The third, who is

nothing to you, is a married woman with a child. By her first

husband she had a child, and all her love goes into that child.

She will have no connection with you. Now watch out.

Back away. I’m going to turn this rascal around!”

He gave a loud whoop and rode back,

calling the children

around him.



more question, Master!”

The sheikh circled, “What is it? Quickly!

That rider over there needs me. I think I’m

in love.” “What is this playing that

you do? Why do you hide

your intelligence



“The people

here want to put me

in charge. They want me to be

judge, magistrate, and interpreter of all the texts.

The knowing I have doesn’t want that. It wants to enjoy

itself. I am a plantation of sugarcane, and at the same time

I’m eating the sweetness.” Knowledge that is acquired is not like

this. Those who have it worry if audiences like it or not. It’s a

bait for popularity. Disputational knowing wants customers.

It has no soul. Robust and energetic before a responsive

crowd, it slumps when no one is there. The only

real customer is God. Chew quietly your

sweet sugarcane God-love, and stay

playfully childish. Your face  will

turn rosy with illumination

like the red bud



Let the lover

be disgraceful, crazy,

absent minded. Someone sober

will worry about things going

badly. Let the lover



All day

and night, music,

a quiet, bright reed song.

If it fades, we



Jalal al-din Rumi





is not an asexual, dispassionate,

head-in-the-clouds, nails-in-the-palms

disappearance from the game of life. It’s a

volcanic, kick-ass, erotic commitment

to love in action, coupled with

hard-headed practical



Elissa Giles


to be unconcerned in all things



a person

overlooks the faults

of others, and sees only their merits,

and thus keeps his mind serene, his whole life

will be happy. To be unconcerned in all

things, with the mind cool, free of

desires and without hate,

is beautiful in a



Ramana Maharshi