What began as an ideal has become an urgent call to action. It is a matter of survival, life and death. Put aside frivolous relations. Engage with what will produce an impact.
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#17, line 3, #49
In order to obtain a following one must first know how to adapt oneself. If a man would rule he must first learn to serve, for only in this way does he secure from those below him the joyous assent that is necessary if they are to follow him. If he has to obtain a following by force or cunning, by conspiracy or by creating factions, he invariably arouses resistance, which obstructs willing adherence. But even joyous movement can lead to evil consequences, hence the added stipulation, “Perseverance furthers” – that is, consistency in doing right – together with “No blame.” Just as we should not ask others to follow us unless this condition is fulfilled, so it is only under this condition that we can in turn follow others without coming to harm.
The thought of obtaining a following through adaptation to the demands of the time is a great and significant idea; this is why the appended judgement is so favorable.
In the autumn electricity withdraws into the earth again and rests. Here it is the thunder in the middle of the lake that serves as the image – thunder in its winter rest, not thunder in motion. The idea of following in the sense of adaptation to the demands of the time grows out of this image. Thunder in the middle of the lake indicates times of darkness and rest. Similarly, a superior man, after being tirelessly active all day, allows himself rest and recuperation at night. No situation can become favorable till one is able to adapt to it and does not wear himself out with mistaken resistance.
When the right connection with distinguished people has been found, a certain loss naturally ensues. A man must part company with the inferior and superficial. But in his heart he will feel satisfied, because he will find what he seeks and needs for the development of his personality. The important thing is to remain firm. He must know what he wants and not be led astray by momentary inclinations.
Political revolutions are extremely grave matters. They should be undertaken only under stress of direst necessity, when there is no other way out. Not everyone is called to this task, but only the man who has the confidence of the people, and even he only when the time is ripe. He must then proceed in the right way, so that he gladdens the people and, by enlightening them, prevents excesses. Furthermore, he must be quite free of selfish aims and must really relieve the need of the people. Only then does he have nothing to regret.
Times change, and with them their demands. Thus the seasons change in the course of the year. In the world cycle also there are spring and autumn in the life of peoples and nations, and these call for social transformations.
Fire below and the lake above combat and destroy each other. So too in the course of the year a combat takes place between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, eventuating in the revolution of the seasons. Man masters these changes in nature by noting their regularity and marking off the passage of time accordingly. In this way order and clarity appear in the apparently chaotic changes of the seasons, and man is able to adjust himself in advance to the demands of the different times.