The Wisdom of the I Ching

55. The Pinnacle of Success

When a man takes action in accordance with insight and understanding, he achieves the very peak of abundance. But since change is the nature of the universe, he realizes that this pinnacle of success cannot last forever. The height of success means, inevitably, that decline must eventually follow, just as the sun at its zenith must then begin to set. But the superior man is not discouraged by this realization; he knows that it is futile to try to remain always at a peak. He is grateful to have known true abundance, and rejoices in the present moment of success. Even though he later descends from the Pinnacle of Success, his achievement will not vanish. Only a man who pursues what is great can know this level of success, and only a man who can put aside such concerns about decline can lead others at a time of great abundance.

Clarity of vision permits a man to issue valid directives; force of action enables him to carry them through to a successful conclusion. Understanding and action are the traits necessary for achieving the Pinnacle of Success. Although his ventures may decline from this pinnacle, by maintaining those traits that got him this far, the decline will not mean a reversal.

The Lines
1. [9] To join with another who seeks to achieve the same goals through action and clear understanding can only serve to bring about success. With such combined forces, success is assured.

2. [6] Inferior influences have their play and stand in the way of a man of accomplishment. Under such circumstances, anything he does is met with distrust and opposition. All a man can do is hold to the clarity of his inner vision and realize that Truth is more powerful than all its opponents and will triumph in the end.

3. [9] A man's effectiveness can be hindered by the prevalence of inferior men, who rise and make their presence known. Nothing the man can do is successful, despite his best efforts. Although his influence is completely crowded out, he cannot be blamed for this outcome. He can only remain true to himself.

4. [9] The influence of dark forces begins to fade. Persons of clear knowledge and action are able to come together. A favorable outcome is then imminent.

5. [6] When wise and able men are welcomed, their counsel is received and implemented. The beneficial effects are then shared by all.

6. [6] If a man becomes obsessed with his success, if he is overcome with pride and arrogance because of his own achievements, then he loses touch with those he needs most, he loses sight of the whole point of his endeavors, and all his efforts come to naught. Abundance becomes an empty shell because it was carried to excess.


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