Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Excessive Force

There are at least two hexagrams in the I Ching which I have almost never gotten in my personal readings until lately, and lately I have gotten them regularly. The first is hexagram thirty four, about excessive force, and limiting ourselves. The second is hexagram sixty, which is about limiting oneself.

Both hexagrams relate to limits, but the former to limits of force, and the latter to limiting ourselves to doing only those things that are pertinent to our duty, and completing tasks without getting sidetracked.

The key, or at least one key, to hexagram thirty four is that one should not just use force whenever one feels like it because it leads to resistance. Even if one has the power to overcome, there are repercussions to using that power. In one respect, as hexagram six line four would tell us, "in contrast to the situation of the nine in the second place, he is dealing with a weaker opponent and might therefore succeed. But he cannot carry on the fight, because, since right is not on his side, he cannot justify the conflict to his consciousness." In this case the person does not use force because he/she realizes that right is not on his/her side. There are times when we have to look at the consequences of a win, even if we can win. As such hexagram thirty four tells us in the commentary, "For that is truly great power which does not degenerate into mere force, but remains inwardly united the fundamental principles of right and of justice." We must take into account the consequences of our actions, even if we can win.

Once again, the use of mere force automatically and naturally results in the feelings of resentment against those who are controlling. Hence the commentary on line three says, "If a man goes on quietly and perseveringly working on the removal of resistances, success comes in the end." The way to conquer another without creating resistance is to change his or her mind. And by conquer I do not mean in the cruelest way, I mean in a way that shows leadership. One shows leadership when he changes someone's mind in a way that helps the other person as well, not just for manipulation and control, and leads to a better life for everyone concerned. In this way we do not really control, but more show the way. In the age that is coming, control will be a thing of the past, at least for the most part. Control will no longer work. We must learn to "go about quietly working on the removal of resistances. We must find a common goal for which all can strive, and act as a leader showing the way.

We get a form of this as well in hexagram sixty. Line five tells us that "if we seek to impose restrictions on others only, while evading them ourselves, these restrictions will always be resented and will provoke resistance. If, however, a man in a leading position applies the limitations first to himself, demanding little from those associated with him, and with modest means manages to achieve something, good fortune is the result."

In relationships, as well as in supervisory positions, it is important that we do not try to control another, but rather, show him or her the way, not just in words, but in actions as well. If we try to control our partner, we only create resistance, and eventually the breakup of the relationship. Using coercion a boss might get good results from employees for a while, but ultimately employees will rebel in as far as they are able to without losing their jobs, and good employees may even go elsewhere. Control is demeaning to a partner. It gives them no space to breathe, and no allowance for them to express their own personality, and is ultimately doomed to failure.

When the I Ching teaches us, it does so only through example, and does not try to force us to fit into a pattern. It simply offers the waters of wisdom, (hexagram forty eight) but all are free to go to the well or not, as they are disposed to do. In this way too, hexagram four teaches us that the I Ching does not come to us to teach us, but allows us to come or not come as we might see fit. The water (wisdom) simply remains in the ground, it does not come to us. The only way we can partake of it is to draw it out. It will not attempt to force us to accept its wisdom. In the same way, we cannot afford to attempt to force anything on anyone else, for while it may work for a while, eventually there will be a backlash.

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