“I Ching Wisdom” by Wu Wei
4 Aug 2008
Please allow me to share with you the sayings contained in the eighty-one pages of a delightful book called I Ching Wisdom — Guidance from the Book of Changes (164 pages, 1994) by 'Wu Wei', a pen name chosen for this book by author Chris Prentiss. I chanced upon the book at a library book sale in 2006. Each page has a 1-line saying along with a short paragraph by Wu Wei that explains the saying.

The expositions for sayings 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64 and 81 (square numbers) have been borrowed from the book:

1. A situation only becomes favorable when one adapts to it.

As long as you are angry or upset over an event, you will be unable to perceive its beneficial aspects, and you may wear yourself out with unnecessary resistance; the event may have been to your complete advantage from the first moment. Even happy turns of fortune sometimes come to us in a form that seems strange or unlucky. The event itself is simply an event; the way you respond to the event determines its final outcome in your life. Once an event has taken place, since you cannot alter the past, all that is left to you is your response. Why not respond as though the event occurred for your benefit? You will then immediately experience good feelingsa about the event, and by acting in accord with your feelings, you will help to bring about that end. Anyone who understands this concept and acts accordingly will mount through the skies as though on the wings of six dragons.

2. To a person of true understanding, it makes no difference whether death comes early or late.
3. By manifesting a humble attitude, people will naturally want to help you and give you good counsel.
4. Do not hate. Hatred is a form of subjective involvement that binds you to the hated object.
Exposition: Hatred is a product of evil. To the extent you allow yourself to feel hatred, to that extent you become an instrument of evil. When you hate someone you draw that person to you. Is that what you want? To eliminate the connection, dismiss the person from your thoughts. To combat evil, respond with goodness.
5. For power to be truly great it must be inwardly united with the fundamental principles of right and justice.
6. Take not gain or loss to heart. What man holds high comes to nothing.
7. In general, opposition appears as an obstruction, but the superior person uses it to his advantage.
8. If you see good, imitate it. If you have faults, rid yourself of them.
9. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side.
Exposition: When anger, lust, hatred or love consumes you, clear, rational thinking is impossible. It is only when you are able calmly to step back from yourself and "look in on yourself" that true detachment is achieved, which then permits rational thinking.
10. The way of the superior person is to be joyous of heart, yet concerned in thought.
11. In the hands of a great master, all material is productive.
12. Pleasant manners succeed even with irritable people.
13. It is wise and reasonable not to try to obtain anything by force.
14. In times of prosperity, it is important to possess enough greatness of spirit to bear with the mistakes of others.
15. When entangled in a conflict, it is wise to remain so clear headed and strong that you are always ready to come to terms with your opponent by meeting him halfway.
16. Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.
Exposition: When the time for action has come conflict within an individual will cause him to hesitate. Conflict within a group will prevent the members of the group from acting as a unit. In either case, conflict weakens. Great or dangerous undertakings are to be avoided in times of conflict because achieving success requires a concerted unity of force.
17. The small-minded person is ashamed of kindness and does not shrink from injustice.
18. It is better to go on foot than ride in a carriage under false pretenses.
19. A superior person acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, and thus strengthens his character.
20. If we want to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on what he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes.
21. Once you have gained inner mastery of a problem, it will come about naturally that the action you take will succeed.
22. To be a superior person, see to it that goodness is an established attribute of character rather than an accidental and isolated occurrence.
23. Boasting of power, wealth, position, promotion, success, or influential friends inevitably invites misfortunes and humiliation.
24. In cultivating oneself, it is best to root out bad habits and tolerate those that are harmless.
25. To act on the spur of every caprice, ultimately leads to humiliation.
Exposition: What the heart desires, we run after without a moment's hesitation, but there are three restraints that ought to be given consideration: first, we should not run precipitately after all persons we would like to influence, but should hold back if it is unseemly for us to make an approach; second, we should not yield to every whim of those in whose service we are; third, where the moods of the heart are concerned, we should not ignore the possibility of inhibition, for this is the basis of human freedom. Develop the strength to choose a wise course of action even in the face of desires that pull you in a different direction. This is very difficult but essential if you are to be in charge of your fate, and leads to great success and good fortune.
26. To enjoy a meaningful way of life, and to produce long-lasting effects, the ability to endure must be firmly established in you.
27. To be successful, do not be rigid and immobile in your thinking, but always keep abreast of the time and change with it.
28. If you attempt too much, you will end by succeeding in nothing.
29. To remain at the mercy of moods of hope and fear will cost you your inner composure and consistency.
30. If you live in a state of perpetual hurry, you will fail to attain inner composure.
31. When confronted with unsurmountable forces, retreat is proper.
32. Power best expresses itself in gentleness.
33. The superior person is never led into baseness or vulgarity by community of interests with people of low character.
34. In financial matters, well being prevails when expenditures and income are in proportion.
35. Do not be ashamed of simplicity or small means.
36. A compromise with evil is not possible.
Exposition: To end a conflict with evil-minded people, we are sometimes tempted to compromise what we know to be right. Such compromising is an error, for evil must be completely eradicated if it is not to spring up again. The best way to overcome evil is to hold completely what is good. To digress even slightly from the path of the superior person is to start on the path of the inferior person. To continue on that path can only lead to unfortunate results.
37. In the time of gathering together, make no arbitrary choice of your associates. There are secret forces at work leading together those who belong together.
38. Do not allow yourself be led astray by a leader.
39. Those things in our psychic body later manifest in our physical body.
40. Only a person who goes to meet his fate resolutely will be equipped to deal with it adequately.
41. Slander will be silenced if we do not gratify it with injured retorts.
42. On the road to success, as you near the attainment of your goal, beware of becoming intoxicated with your achievement.
43. If you neglect your good qualities and virtues, you will cease to be of value to your friends and neighbors. Soon, no one will seek you out or bother about you.
44. You can succeed in life no matter your circumstances, provided you have determination and follow the path of the superior person.
45. In order to achieve a quiet heart, rest and movement must follow each other in accordance with the demands of the time.
46. In exercised of meditation and concentration, trying to force results will lead to an unwholesome outcome.
47. The superior person spends a lifetime developing strong character, and so enjoys a lifetime of supreme good fortune and great success.
48. The superior person sees and understands the transitory in the light of eternity.
49. If you would have your relationship endure, fix your mind on an end that endures.
Exposition: All relationships run the danger that misunderstandings and disagreements will arise that can cause a parting of the ways. If you permit yourself to drift along without having in mind the fixed goal of the continuation of the relationship, you may find that your relationships continue or not, as the day may determine. By making a commitment to permanently maintain the relationship, you will set a standard against with all of your actions and decisions affecting the relationship are measured. Having done this, you will avoid the pitfalls and reefs that confront the closer relationships of people, and your relationships will therefore endure.
50. Mad pursuit of pleasure never takes one to the goal.
51. Waiting should not be mere empty hoping; it should be filled with the inner certainty of reaching the goal.
52. Even small power, used correctly, can achieve great success.
53. After a matter has been thoroughly considered, it is essential to form a decision and to act.
54. Knowledge is the key to freedom.
55. Through hardness and selfishness, the heart grows rigid, and this rigidity leads to separation from others.
56. Unlimited possibilities are not suited to mankind. If they existed, his life would only dissolve into the boundless.
57. Through words and deeds, the superior person moves heaven and earth.
58. If you depend on your relationships for your happiness, you will either be happy or sad as your relationships rise and fall.
59. Exceptional modesty and conscientiousness are sure to be rewarded with great success and good fortune.
60. The superior person is reverent; at all times acknowledging the great Creator and the wonderousness of the universe.
61. The superior person is completely sincere i his thoughts and actions.
62. It is only after perfect balance has been achieved that any misstep brings imbalance.
63. Even the finest clothes turn to rags.
64. No plain not followed by a slope, no increase not followed by a decrease.
Exposition: It is an eternal law of the universe that everything, when it reaches its maximum potential, turns towards its opposite. Knowing this law, the superior person provides for a time of decrease in times of prosperity. He builds himself up during times of good health and so prepares against a time of illness. He takes precautions in times of safety that protect him in times of danger. He thinks ahead and, in so doing, is prepared. He thereby enjoys a lifetime of good fortune and success.
65. Do not complain. Enjoy the good fortune you still possess.
66. If you are not dazzled by enticing goals, and remain true to yourself, you will travel through life unassailed, on a level road.
67. At the beginning of a project, if many boastful claims are made, the successful attainment of the goal becomes far more difficult.
68. Not a whole day.
69. If you would rule, first learn to serve.
70. In friendships and close relationships, you must make a careful choice.
71. If one clings to the little boy, one loses the strong man.
72. Every person must have something to follow -- a lodestar.
73. In following the path of the superior person, slight digressions from the good cannot be avoided, but you must turn back, before going too far.
74. If you are not as you should be you will have misfortune, and it does not further you to undertake anything.
75. Only through daily self-renewal of character can you continue at the height of your powers.
76. You have received a nature that is innately good. When your thoughts and actions are in accord with your nature, you will enjoy great good fortune and supreme success.
77. Do not set your eyes on the harvest while planting it, nor on the use of the ground while cleaning it.
78. Words are movements going from within, outward. Eating and drinking are movements that go from without, inward. Both movements can be modified by tranquility.
79. Exceptional enterprises cannot succeed unless the utmost caution is observed in their beginnings.
80. Danger has an important and beneficial use.
81. Every ending contains a new beginning.
Exposition: Even the longest journey started by the first step. No matter how poor your circumstances are, no matter how poor your personal condition is, the path of the superior person, which leads only to supreme good fortune and great success, is always directly in front of you. You may take the first step upon it at any time and magically transform your circumstances. These benefits are available to anyone, withheld from no one. The path of the inferior person is also always directly in front of you, bringing its lessons of hardship, misery and despair, but only so that you will ultimately come to know the truth. At each step of your way, you must always choose between these two paths. The ending of one path always means the beginning of the other. Choose well; your future is entirely within your own hands.

A beautiful book with a beautiful ending!

© Copyright 2008—2018, Gurmeet Manku.