Today: “Take care of the family” – I Ching

Take care of the family.  Balance discipline and freedom.  Be frugal.

Read the text from Richard Wilhelm's translation of the I Ching

The foundation of the family is the relationship between husband and wife. The tie that hold the family together lies in the loyalty and perseverance of the wife. Her place is within (second line), while that of the husband is without (fifth line). It is in accord with the great laws of nature that husband and wife take their proper places. Within the family a strong authority is needed; this is represented by the parents. If the father is really a father and the son a son, if the elder brother fulfils his position, and the younger fulfils his, if the husband is really a husband and the wife a wife, then the family is in order. When the family is in order, all the social relationships of mankind will be in order.
Three of the five social relationships are to be found within the family – that between father and son, which is the relation of love, that between the husband and wife, which is the relation of chaste conduct, and that between elder and younger brother, which is the relation of correctness. The loving reverence of the son is then carried over to the prince in the form of faithfulness to duty; the affection and correctness of behavior existing between the two brothers are extended to a friend in the form of loyalty, and to a person of superior rank in the form of deference. The family is society in embryo; it is the native soil on which performance of moral duty is made easy through natural affection, so that within a small circle a basis of moral practice is created, and this is later widened to include human relationships in general.
In the family the proper mean between severity and indulgence ought to prevail. Too great severity toward one’s own flesh and blood leads to remorse. The wise thing is to build strong dikes within which complete freedom of movement is allowed each individual. But in doubtful instances too great severity, despite occasional mistakes, is preferable, because it preserves discipline in the family, whereas too great weakness leads to disgrace.
Decrease does not under all circumstances mean something bad. Increase and decrease come in their own time. What matters here is to understand the time and not to try to cover up poverty with empty pretence. If a time of scanty resources brings out an inner truth, one must not feel ashamed of simplicity. For simplicity is then the very thing needed to provide inner strength for further undertakings. Indeed, there need be no concern if the outward beauty of the civilisation, even the elaboration of religious forms, should have to suffer because of simplicity. One must draw on the strength of the inner attitude to compensate for what is lacking in externals; then the power of the content makes up for the simplicity of form. There is no need of presenting false appearances to God. Even with slender means, the sentiment of the heart can be expressed.


Tao Te Ching – Verse 43

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