Archetype 10: Careful Conduct

CR P02 C10 A01

Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”

So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

Again he spoke to him, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

—Genesis 18:20–33

The Reading

Abraham is in a good mood. God has just told him that he and Sarah, his wife, are soon to have a child. Normally this would not be unusual, but Sarah and Abraham are old. Sarah has long ago gone through menopause. Sarah actually thinks this is funny and laughs at the idea, but, as God tells them, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14)

Right after this exchange, God tells Abraham of his plan to destroy the city of Sodom because of its great wickedness. Perhaps Abraham is still giddy from his good news, but for whatever reason, he decides to try to convince God to spare Sodom. But this raises an interesting question. How does puny Abraham convince Almighty God to not do something that God has decided to do? The answer is very carefully. One can imagine God’s amusement at Abraham using a careful combination of wit, guile, and God’s own words to turn God’s anger aside.

The Hexagram

CR P02 C10 A02

The hexagram is composed of the father above and the youngest daughter below. The small and cheerful youngest daughter is manipulating the large and strong father figure. The direction of movement of the two hexagrams is upward, so the energy of the weakest is being directed at the strongest. Normally, this could be very dangerous, but because this is being done with joy and good humor, the strong figure takes it all in good humor.

The Archetype

There is a time...

  • To tread very carefully when one has little power.
  • To move a powerful person using joy, humor, and tact.
  • To know that the difference in stature between the meek and the mighty must be natural and accepted by both. If the difference is unjust, then envy and struggle result.
  • To not worry about social obligations and norms, but instead to embrace a simple and undemanding attitude.
  • To understand that inner strength coupled with simplicity can accomplish a great deal.
  • To reach for a goal that is in keeping with God’s way and not driven by Ego.

Now is that time.

Moving Lines

Moving Line in the First (Bottom) Position

A moving line in the bottom position suggests that social conventions need not bind, as long as one has true humility and simple conduct. The situation may be weak in the beginning, but by cultivating inner strength and being satisfied with simplicity and modesty, progress will be blessed. But if one is unhappy with modest circumstances and seeks only to improve material comforts, then any gains will lead to arrogance and greed. Therefore the goal must not be just an outcome, but an outcome that is in accord with Wisdom’s way.

Moving Line in the Second Position

A moving line in the second position counsels withdrawal from the bustle of life. Seek nothing, ask nothing, and accept fate as it comes, and thus travel through life safely. Seek only God’s company. Be content and free of entanglements.

Moving Line in the Third Position

A moving line in the third position warns us that progress requires vision. Ignoring weaknesses and overestimating strength exposes one to great danger. Undertaking something beyond one’s strength invites disaster. The only time plunging ahead regardless of ability can be justified is when battling for a noble idea. In this case, one is not being reckless; one is offering of oneself a sacrifice.

Moving Line in the Fourth Position

A moving line in the fourth position cautions of a dangerous situation. The power to prevail is here, but this power is impeded by an overly cautious attitude. The line tells us to have confidence in our abilities and push forward.

Moving Line in the Fifth Position

A moving line in the fifth position suggests cautious resolve. There is danger in moving forward, but as long as one maintains awareness of the danger, forward movement is possible.

Moving Line in the Sixth (Top) Position

A moving line in the top position says that the work is ended. Will the work yield good results? If the tree yields good fruit, then good will result. If the tree yields bad fruit, then bad will result.

Other interpretations of Archetype 10:

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Reproduced with permission from Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching copyright (c) 2015 Roger Sessions.