Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Integrity - the lesson of the swamp plant

The playing out of the underlying truths to be found in the I Ching are everywhere to be seen. But today we are witnessing a playing out of global proportions. In the US and elsewhere, financial institutions, some of them hundreds of years old, are awash in red ink, either filing for bankruptcy, being bought, or shopping themselves around for infusions of cash from abroad. They succumbed to the lure of easy gains today, lending money to unqualified homebuyers and then packaging and trading ‘securities’ backed by these high-risk mortgages. Now it is karmic payback time as house prices fall, homebuyers default and those institutions find themselves holding worthless paper.

53. Chien/Development (Gradual Progress)

On the mountain, a tree:
The image of DEVELOPMENT.
Thus the superior man abides in dignity and virtue,
In order to improve the mores.

The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually.

(From the Wilhelm/Baynes edition of the I Ching)

The swamp plant may grow prodigiously in a short period of time. But there is no inherent strength in it, it is based on muddy ground, its only goal is to outgrow those around it. It is here today, gone tomorrow. The tree on the other hand grows slowly, much more slowly. It is based on firmer ground.

A tree on the mountain develops slowly, according to the law of its being and consequently stands firmly rooted…within is tranquillity, which guards against precipitate action, and without is penetration, which makes development and progress possible.

Relationships that are not built on a basis of right and wrong, of integrity, are on muddy ground and cannot endure. Relationships built on integrity are on firm ground and will grow strong. They will endure and ‘influence the entire landscape’ long after the swamp plants have rotted away in the mud.
Photo by Joakim Buchwald

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond