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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

21: Cutting Through

Cutting Through

The situation calls for confronting a tenacious knot and cutting right through it. Somehow, the way to harmony and unity is blocked or frustrated — perhaps by a tangle of deceit or corruption. Like Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian knot, take decisive action and you will meet with good fortune. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. The ability to take corrective measures, when they are needed, is an essential trait of leadership.

Those who bring discipline to bear must, above all, be honest — with others, and with themselves. Honesty is the hallmark of the strong and self-confident. The successful person masters the art of honesty like a swordsman masters fencing. When lies, delusions and game playing are getting in the way of teamwork, the swift sword of honest action, perhaps even punishment, must be wielded to protect integrity and values. Decisiveness with integrity at a time like this brings good fortune.

Though your actions may be vigorous, they must not be hasty, severe or arbitrary. Be sure to carefully consider all the circumstances. In the case of a serious disruption of relations or events, you must forgive, but not forget — at least until a person has made reparation for his mistakes. If corrective action is necessary, make certain that it fits the crime. When rules have become slack and useless, only through the institution of clear and swift penalties can their effectiveness be restored.

In situations where serious issues of justice are at stake, keep careful records, and do not hesitate to go public with the truth.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

A single, first offense is not cause for condemnation and stiff punishment, but some form of corrective action is needed in order to prevent further transgressions. If you have been wronged, confront the matter openly, but without hostility.

Line 2

The true miscreant must be punished for his crimes, and all serious violations of decency should be dealt with directly. There can be an inclination to go too far in such situations, as personal indignation stirs things up. Even so, some punishment is warranted.

Line 3

In trying to cut through a knotty problem, you it’s easy for your saw to get stuck in the wood. Old, hard feelings may still be attached to a problem, and can kick back at you when you attempt to correct past wrongs. It is not your job to rewrite the past. If the guilty do not submit, you cannot solve the problem. At this point there is no blame in walking away from the whole situation, before it gets any worse.

Line 4

When facing great obstacles or powerful adversaries, do not overreach your authority and never outstrip your resources. Move ahead with caution, and harden your resolve. Persevering with difficult situations in the end brings good fortune. As when biting through a tough nut, sharp teeth may be required.

Line 5

This changing line points to a difficult situation. All decent people have a tendency toward leniency, but when the facts of a situation are clear, and a grievous wrong has been committed, strong corrective action must be taken. Such action may take the form of punishing those who have committed the offense. In such cases, bear in mind that the first job of the one who administers correction is to make sure that the punishment is effective. In other words, that it serves its highest purpose -- to cause the offenders to understand the wrong they have committed, and prevent them from committing it in the future.

Line 6 (top line)

Those who believe that small sins can do no harm are sliding down a slippery slope to ruin. If you become accustomed to disregarding or making excuses for small mistakes, you become incorrigible and guilt will accumulate until stern consequences become unavoidable. Such obstinacy begets misfortune.