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