The Noble One: Gradually

April 3, 2011

The noble one dwells in high moral character and reforms popular customs. This is the Image of Hexagram 53, Gradually. No one can quarrel with the need to dwell in high moral character, but what do we make of pairing gradualness with the reformation of popular customs?

The answer is that both high moral character and the reformation of popular customs must be done gradually. Nothing is gained by sudden declaration or violently forcible reform. For personal or social reform to take place, there must be a slow planting of new ideas. Then they will last.

The trigrams of this hexagram represent a tree on a mountain. For a tree to grow, especially the isolated pine in the crags of an exposed granite peak, the true power is one of gradualness. The tree can’t be transplanted there whole, nor can it acclimate properly if it were suddenly placed there. It can only survive if it grows there gradually. Having grown there gradually, though, even wind and rain storms cannot uproot it.

We are witnessing great changes in social customs now. The Internet and social media alone are effecting great, though gradual changes. The role of the I Ching in the past was to advise the rulers of the country. It was clear that the will of the people, not the ambitions of the ruler, were paramount. There are gradual changes among the social customs all the time: it is not just the noble one, but gradualness itself that reforms popular customs.


 

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