I cannot shine in isolation* (ALTB)

IMG_0410“PERSEVERANCE FURTHERS…..”  from Hexagram # 34 – Ta Chuang or The Power of the Great – Nine in the second place- “Perseverance brings good fortune” OR “perseverance in inner equilibrium, without excessive use of power, brings good fortune.”

Nine in the fourth place = “Perseverance brings good fortune, remorse disappears
the hedge opens; there is no entanglement, power depends upon the axle of a big cart…”

This quote has stayed with me since my  best buddy gave me my first copy of the I Ching in 1977…we traveled Europe together and threw our Chinese coins every day, noting with  delight when a hexagram happened to mirror the day’s events…or in some way indicated whether fortune or misfortune awaited us if we made certain plans or decisions.  I won’t go so far as to say that the I Ching was our ‘guide’, but it did at some level become a daily meditation and added a ‘spiritual’ quality to our journey that perhaps wouldn’t have been there had I not lugged the book around with us.

In 1980, I sent my first copy of the book to a friend who had the great ‘misfortune’ to end up in prison in Thailand and I felt that this book might lend some comfort – I don’t really know if my copy ever made it past the gates…so few things reached prisoners in the hell holes they were in.  I bought myself a second copy when living in Georgeville, PQ,  and ended up leaving the Eastern Townships to go back to Montreal.  # 24 – Return or “turning point’ was a particularly meaningful hexagram at the time because most assuredly, 1980 was a turning point.

So, why does the two word phrase ‘perseverance furthers’ remain etched in the minds of many people who were 20 something in the 70s?  What is it about these two words that resonates and leaves an indelible imprint on our minds?  Do we believe that perseverance furthers?  Does persevering at something always help us get through? Is it not wise to abandon a course of action or a way of behaving or thinking if in the end it is not going to ‘further’ us?  What kind of perseverance is the I Ching referring to?

The I Ching says “If a man (VERY gender biased text) goes on quietly and perseveringly working at the removal of resistances, success comes in the end.  The obstructions give way and all occasion for remorse arising from excessive use of power disappears.”  “The less that power is applied outwardly, the greater is its effect.”

This describes perseverance as using one’s inner strength to remove obstacles.
“Six at the top means:
A goat butts against a hedge
It cannot go backward, it cannot go forward
Nothing serves to further
If one notes the difficulty, this brings good fortune”

This is explained as:  “If we venture too far we come to a deadlock, unable either to advance or to retreat, and whatever we do merely serves to complicate things further.  Such obstinacy leads to insuperable difficulties.  But, if realizing the situation we compose ourselves and decide not to continue, everything will right itself in time.”

So, I interpret this to mean that removing obstacles in your life so you can proceed forward is the goal. If an obstacle is seemingly insurmountable, then it serves us better to not remain stuck, but to find another way around it. So, perseverance is not blind determination, but recognition that there is  more than one way to confront obstacles.

All fine and well.  I like to think that the opposite of perseverance is giving up – and there is another saying which I like and that is ‘quit while you are ahead’.  As we meet life’s very real challenges, we learn along the way that some things are worth pursuing, and others are not.  If we are merely avoiding ‘hard work’,  perseverance pays off…but, if you are chasing after something you really don’t need, then, why persevere!  What if we really believe we need something?  How do we know we do not?

A good example of ‘perseverance furthers’ for me is my University Education – I persevered, I graduated, went on to post graduate studies and consequently got a much more interesting and better-paying job.  Not for everyone, I know, but it’s a choice and you have to make it work!  I could have bailed, it was tempting at times, but I knew that in order to achieve success, I had to persevere.  Was it perfect?  Of course not!  Was it challenging?  Undoubtedly.  Am I pleased I persevered?  Yes.
Why?  Because it was an opportunity after inputting a certain kind of knowledge (Linguistics, 2nd language education, pedagogy) to make a difference, in this case, to give students the benefit of my knowledge and creativity so they in turn could move forward.  Very satisfying, indeed.  I also believe that life is what you make it,
difficult as this is at times.

Any examples of where perseverance paid off for YOU?
Any examples of where perseverance didn’t pay off?  Then what?
Do pay off and further mean the same things?
Can we be ‘furthered’ through our mistakes?  Give an example…
Do we ever NOT learn from our mistakes?

Into the day…

One thought on “I cannot shine in isolation* (ALTB)

  1. ML sent me your blog, loved the discussion. We were raised with this notion to preservere and do so, I think, unknowingly much too often. Chin up be strong, yadayada. In the end, people perceive us as strong, just when every fibre of our being screams “I want to be weak and cared for!” I for one, would like a darned good holiday from the perseverance that I believe I must embrace. Ditching it? Trying to, just for a little while, peace beauty ❤

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