Hexagram #60 Discipline

Discipline is developmental, but painful discipline is not to be held to.

EXPLANATION: Discipline means having limits that are not to be exceeded. As to the qualities of the hexagram above is Water ☵, a pitfall, and below is Lake ☱ , joyous. Being capable of joy in danger, warding off danger by joyfulness, it is therefore called Discipline.

This hexagram represents a pitfall, and below is practicing obedience in unfavorable circumstances, adaptably keeping to the Tao; it follows on the previous hexagram Joy. In Joy, joyfulness reaches outside; one can delight in the Tao and practice the Tao. But if one can only be joyful in favorable circumstances and not in unfavorable circumstances, joy is not real. and ultimately it will be hard to get out of difficulty and danger, so one will not find joy.

Therefore, those who practice reality and delight in the Tao do not let difficulty disturb their minds, and do not let peril and trouble affect their will; the situation may be dangerous, but their minds are not endangered, the times may be perilous but the Tao is not imperiled. Pleased with heaven and aware of the aim of life, they are at peace wherever they are: They use danger to nourish joy, and use joy to guard against danger. The situation may be up to others, but creation of destiny is up to oneself. Yin and yang cannot restrict such people, the created universe cannot bind them; whether in adversity or comfort, they do not lose their bearings. This is why discipline is developmental.

However, even though discipline can develop you, if you do not know how to adapt to changes, and cling fast to one discipline, that will become restrictive and stifling; this is called painful discipline. When discipline gets to the point of inflicting suffering, it brings on danger itself even where there was no danger; you will only suffer toil and servility, which is harmful and has no benefit. Not only does this not constitute discipline, it loses the appropriate measure. This is not joy in the midst of danger; it is enjoying the act of courting danger. Therefore it is not to be held to.

When superior people practice the Tao and establish virtue, if it`s not proper, they don't move, if it`s not the way, they don`t go there, if it`s not just, they don`t act; their every step is orderly and regulated, they follow the compass and set up the carpenter`s square, their every word is timely and reasonable. In substance they are always calm, like a lake without waves; in function they act like water, which conforms to its environment. Their calmness does not reach the point of losing mindfulness, and their activity does not reach the point of straying from essence. There is a consistency about their movement and stillness, adjusted appropriately according to events, not restricted to a single pattern. When the time comes to stop, they stop; encountering danger, they deal with it. When the time comes to go on, they go on; getting out of danger, they do not bring on danger. Going along with the time, they deal with everything unminding, and therefore can get beyond yin and yang, not being constrained by yin and yang.

This is because heaven and earth can coerce what has form, but not what is formless; can coerce the minding, but not the unminding. Discipline is not according to mind but according to time; this is called discipline according to the time, having discipline yet according with the time. It is like the sections of bamboo; each section has a boundary, each section has a passage. In this way, how could one fail to develop? -- Liu Yiming, Hexagram #60 Discipline, The Taoist I Ching

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Hexagram #60 Discipline

On the left the ancient shape of character
for Discipline. On the right the
presents-day shape.

The monk, representing the mind of Tao, is
not imperiled, even though the skeleton, representing the lower self, is trying to kill it. The Dance of Death, the Münster of Bern cathedral Switzerland, 15th C

The Chinese gods Nuwa and Fuxi holding a compass and a square.