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

 

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the subtle universe appears


 

Calming

your mind, following

your breath, simplifying your life,

you reduce agitation and worry

with each passing

month.

 


When

genuine stillness

pervades your existence,

the subtle universe appears.

Then you can go anywhere you

like and give yourself

just what you

need.

 

Wei wu Wei Ching, Chapter 19

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wait in a state of patient inner strength


 
 

To wait with

a proper attitude invites

the assistance of the

Higher Power.

 

There is

a situation at hand that

cannot be corrected by force or

external effort. The Creative will provide

the solution to one who waits with a correct

attitude. This is a time for patience

and careful attention to

inner truth.

 

Do not

give in to doubt and

agitation now. You are not meant

to wait in a state of desperate longing but

in one of patient inner strength. Without certainty

in the power of the truth, success is impossible.

Attempts to force a change, rather than

allowing it to mature naturally,

will only cause

misfortune.

 

You would be

wise to strengthen and reaffirm

your reliance on the Creative. When you indulge in

fear and doubt, you flood the arena where the Higher Power

is attempting to work. Your principal responsibility in life

is to keep this arena—your own consciousness—

free of negative influences.

 

By accepting things

as they are and not making fruitless

comparisons to the situations of others or some

imagined ideal, one engages the power of the Creative.

If one then remains balanced, modest, and

independent, good fortune

will come to hand.

 

from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 5, Hsü / Waiting (Nourishment)

 

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cease and desist and do not seek


 
If you want to attain Intimacy, the first thing is, don’t seek it. If you attain through seeking, you have already fallen into interpretive understanding.

This is especially true because this great treasury extends through all times, clearly evident, empty and bright. Since time without beginning it has been your own basic root: you depend on its power entirely in all your actions.

You will only pass through to freedom when you cease and desist to the point that not even a single thought is born. Then you penetrate through without falling into sense and matter and without dwelling in conceptualizations and mental images.

When you absolutely transcend these, then the whole world does not hide it. Everywhere everything becomes its Great Function, and every single thing flows forth from your own breast. The ancients called this bringing out the family treasure. Once this is attained, it is attained forever. How could it ever be used up?

Just be wary that your investigation does not rest on a firm footing, and that you will not be able to penetrate through to realization. You must bravely cut off all entanglements, so there is not the slightest dependence or reliance. Relinquish your body and give up your life and directly accept the suchness that faces you; there is no other. Then if if the thousand sages came forth it wouldn’t change you at all. Leaving it to the flow at all times, eating food and wearing clothes, you nurture the embryo of sagehood to maturity, not keeping to intellectual understanding. Isn’t this an especially excellent teaching and a most essential shortcut?
 

Yuanwu

 

unearned suffering is redemptive

 

My personal trials

have also taught me the value

of unmerited suffering. As my sufferings mounted

I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond

to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform

the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter

course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to

make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness,

I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an

opportunity to transform myself and heal the

people involved in the tragic situation which

now obtains. I have lived these last few

years with the conviction that

unearned suffering is

redemptive.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.