Those who persevere make continual progress.
The image of this hexagram is that of a tree growing high on a mountain top. If this tree grows too fast, without first properly rooting itself, it becomes susceptible to being torn up and destroyed by the winds. If, however, it establishes a proper foundation and is content to grow gradually, it will enjoy a long life and a lofty view.
Human beings are no different. While we often desire rapid progress – we want to change someone’s mind today, obtain an apology now, achieve all our goals immediately – sooner or later we must come to understand that the only lasting progress is gradual progress. Chien comes to urge you to accept that fact and base your thoughts, attitudes, and actions upon it.
When we have allowed ourselves to be pulled off balance by another or by some event, the ego tempts us to believe that we can influence the situation through forceful behavior. This is incorrect; the actions of the ego inevitably complicate our difficulties. The greatest influence possible always comes through the patient and steady refinement of one’s inner self. If you will devote yourself to the path of the Sage, with every step along that path you will be strengthened, and progress will come automatically. It will be gradual, but it will last.
Be patient, modest, and accepting now. Life often demands that we wait longer than we might like for some change, and the only true comfort available during these times is the knowledge that we are steadfastly developing ourselves into superior people. In time, every honor comes to those who are persevering and correct.
from The I Ching, or Book of Changes
Hexagram 53, Chien / Development (Gradual Progress)
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