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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

7: Organized Discipline

Discipline is symbolized by the elements of water under the earth — a resource that is available for us to use but which is hidden; something vital that requires effort to access; and a potential of great means that can be drawn upon in times of need. Once it is accessed and applied, great things can be accomplished by means of organized discipline.

The more successful general is not the one who triumphs on the battlefield, but the one who is able, through strength of discipline and inner power, to triumph without spilling blood. Likewise, in any large organization, key virtues are discipline and conscientiousness. The most effective team marches with a single purpose — a dedication to a lofty goal that is held dear by all. On the other hand, even with an excess of external discipline, unpopular wars are seldom winnable.

Let power be held in check by the willing acceptance of a common discipline, and submission to a higher authority for the common good. When life is in balance, evil impulses are checked by human decency; parents die before their children; leaders lead and followers follow. If you hold or aspire to a position of leadership, remember that the true leader captures the hearts of the people, and articulates a clear, simple vision that binds them together.

In the realm of government, a good working relationship between army and state is critical. Only when the state is economically prosperous can the army be strong. Only when the army is disciplined can the state be protected from disruptive outside forces. For this balance to be preserved, government must be steady, and benevolent toward its own people. When balancing strong complementary forces, modesty and generosity at the center can be a magnetic force that keeps the relationships intact. Solidarity is essential for success at this time.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

At the beginning of any major movement, order is essential. Get your ducks in a row before you start quacking orders. Nothing good can be achieved without organizing your assets and coordinating your troops.

Line 2

Good fortune follows when the general works in the midst of his troops. Then, when honors are bestowed, the entire army is proud to see their leader rewarded on their behalf.

Line 3

Impending misfortune awaits. Whenever you overestimate your capabilities or underestimate your weaknesses, misfortune follows. Be certain that you and those around you are playing the role for which each is best suited, and the difficulty will be lifted.

Line 4

A strategic retreat is called for. This is not a final defeat, but an opportunity to gain strength by removing yourself from the battleground. Retreat is a disciplined disengagement from all response, into neutrality and acceptance of the situation as it is.

Line 5

It is time to resist some invasive force. Strengthen your position by making sure that relationships and roles are in alignment as they should be. Do not allow your defense of the boundaries to deteriorate into a free-for-all, which would only make things worse. Wise leadership is what is called for. In a time of combat, those who are experienced should lead; otherwise, be supportive.

Line 6 (top line)

In times of victory, financial generosity is the cleanest reward to those who have helped you achieve success. Avoid making complicated promises in exchange for good work on your behalf, and never give rewards based on sentiment alone. Rewards have as much to do with the future as with the past.