The Wisdom of the I Ching

48. The Wellspring

The Wellspring of man's life never changes. It is the same now as it has been for thousands of years. When a man is in touch with his true nature, he can draw wisdom from that Wellspring to guide him in all the decisions he must make. The conditions of life changes. Political and social organizations change, but the essentials of life remain the same. Governments come and go, but the ordinary life of the people and their need to work together for their mutual benefit never change. Generations pass away, and new ones are born to take their places, but the rich variety of life built on this unchanging foundation remains ever before every man.

But in order to fulfill these human needs, individuals and the socio-political organizations of man must endeavor to comprehend the depths of these unchanging foundations of life. A careless or casual approach is of no use and is more likely to mislead. If a man fails to penetrate to the deepest understanding of his place in the universe, if he attaches himself to conventional ideas and ways, his development as a person will suffer.

The Lines
1. [6] A man who gives over his life to unworthy endeavors becomes worthless to himself and others. His existence means little to others, and thence to himself. Everyone avoids him.

2. [9] If a man has good potential but neglects his development, he is hardly better than the man who throws his life away. His life may be of some minimal value, but his negligence only means that his potential is never fully realized.

3. [9] A good man may work on his own development with diligence, but still not be recognized and be of benefit to his fellow men. This is a reproach to those in positions of leadership whose duty it is to see that the nation benefits from the talents of its best men.

4. [6] In the course of a man's development, it may be that a man must withdraw from involvement with others and work on himself. At such times, he may seem to be of little use to anyone else. But such time-off is necessary in order to be of even greater service later on.

5. [9] A man may be a truly great man, but little recognized. He has much to offer, but somehow no one comes to draw from him of his generous offerings. Therefore, it is essential that mankind seek out those who are wise in their midst and make the effort to reap the benefits they have to offer. Such a man will not force himself upon others; others must go to him.

6. [6] The sources of wisdom in our midst are available for the benefit of all the people. True wisdom is inexhaustible, and only increases, the more it is tapped. It is an expression of wisdom to recognize wisdom, to open oneself thereto and to be enriched thereby. Doing this is a responsibility we all have.


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