The Wisdom of the I Ching

51. Sudden Change

The shock of sudden change is terrifying and easily disturbs the fearful and those entrenched in complacency. Many of life's changes are gradual, but others come upon us suddenly and unpredictably turn our world upside down. But the man who is familiar with the nature of change in the universe takes it all in his stride. He gladly embraces the change, and does not allow it to disturb him in the least. He sees in change the manifestation of natural forces. He knows what must be done, and proceeds to do it with confidence and a steady hand in the face of disturbance all about him. A leader of men establishes a steady course; he is not deterred by the fear of Sudden Change. He knows that his measures will often make drastic changes in traditional or customary procedures, and he proceeds cautiously, but without the slightest element of fear.

The superior man, when faced with Sudden Change, remains steady in his sense of the Divine presence in this world. He seeks always to place himself in accord with the will of Heaven and makes that his lodestar. With a clear vision of what he is about, he does not allow his reaction to Sudden Change to sway him from a steady course. This overreaching vision guides him as he examines himself, and as he faces the sudden ups and downs in his own life.

The Lines
1. [9] Sudden Change often appears as sudden loss at first. But after this initial reaction, a man realizes that change need not mean disaster, but can lead to its very opposite and produce advancement instead. Thus, change brings the occasion for real joy.

2. [6] Sudden Change often does indeed produce great and unavoidable loss. But the change also creates new situations in which the loss is recoverable. Thus, while taking necessary precautions to avoid further loss, the wise man awaits the opportunity to recover his losses in the new situations that are brought about.

3. [6] A Sudden Change of events can bring catastrophe, and the man is at a loss for what to do. In the face of such confusion and change, a man cannot know what steps he should take, and is inclined to passively submit to his fate. But inactivity is not the answer. If he will seize the initiative, a way out of the disaster can be found.

4. [9] Not every Sudden Change can be turned to advantage. If a situation is unyielding, if no chance for recovery opens up, then a person is stuck with nowhere to go.

5. [6] When a series of Sudden Changes befall a man, there is a danger of being swept away by it all in a haze of confusion. Thus it is important that the man focus clearly on his rightful course and keep that ever in mind, regardless of the turn of events.

6. [6] Disastrous change results in confusion and loss of direction. A man finds it impossible to determine in which direction he should proceed. Whatever he might do only promises to make things worse. Under such circumstances, the wise man comes to a halt and refuses to proceed with any kind of plan. He listens to no one, but waits until a rightful path becomes clear to him. By doing nothing until the time is right, he saves himself from harm.


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