In a time of darkness it is wise to conceal your motives and intentions until the danger is past. Still, do not be swept away by opinions and conventions in your environment. As social transformations occur, slowly or through revolution, you can begin to come out, show your light and exert more influence.
One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavourable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities.
In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail in spite of difficulties in his immediate environment. Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be discernible from without. Only thus is a man able to maintain his will in the face of difficulties.
In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved. One should not needlessly awaken overwhelming enmity by inconsiderate behaviour. In such times one ought not to fall in with the practices of others; neither should one drag them censoriously into the light. In social intercourse one should not try to be all-knowing. One should let many things pass, without being duped.
Prince Chi lived at the court of the evil tyrant Chou Hsin, who, although not mentioned by name, furnishes the historical example on which this whole situation is based. Prince Chi was a relative of the tyrant and could not withdraw from court; therefore he concealed his true sentiments and feigned insanity. Although he was held a slave, he did not allow external misery to deflect him from his convictions.
This provides a teaching for those who cannot leave their posts in times of darkness. In order to escape danger, they need invincible perseverance of spirit and redoubled caution in their dealings with the world.
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.