The elements are at odds with each other, producing supreme dysfunction. Regarding the motives and bad actors, view them as opposite polarities to the truth, which can be neutralized on a small scale and on an individual basis.
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38 – Thirty-Eight K’uei / Estrangement
Fire distances itself from its nemesis, the Lake:
No matter how large or diverse the group, the Superior Person remains uniquely himself.
Small accomplishments are possible.
You are working at cross-purposes with another.
The distance between you is very wide.
The gap can be closed, however, with no compromise of your integrity.
You are not adversaries in this case — just two persons addressing individual needs.
Ask yourself: are these needs mutually exclusive?
Is there common ground here?
Must there be one winner and one loser?
Could you become partners in seeking a solution that would allow for two winners?
This hexagram is composed of the trigram Li above, i.e., flame, which burns upward, and Tui below, i.e., the lake, which seeps downward. These two movements are in direct contrast. Furthermore, Li is the second daughter and Tui the youngest daughter, and although they live in the same house they belong to different men; hence their wills are not the same but are divergently directed.
OPPOSITION. In small matters, good fortune.
When people live in opposition and estrangement they cannot carry out a great undertaking in common; their points of view diverge too widely. In such circumstances one should above all not proceed brusquely, for that would only increase the existing opposition; instead, one should limit oneself to producing gradual effects in small matters. Here success can still be expected, because the situation is such that the opposition does not preclude all agreement.
In general, opposition appears as an obstruction, but when it represents polarity within a comprehensive whole, it has also its useful and important functions. The oppositions of heaven and earth, spirit and nature, man and woman, when reconciled, bring about the creation and reproduction of life. In the world of visible things, the principle of opposites makes possible the differentiation by categories through which order is brought into the
Above, fire; below, the lake.
The image of OPPOSITION.
Thus amid all fellowship
The superior man retains his individuality.
The two elements, fire and water, never mingle but even when in contact retain their own natures. So the cultured man is never led into baseness or vulgarity through intercourse or community of interests with persons of another sort; regardless of all commingling, he will always preserve his individuality.