Archetype 57: The Gentle
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
The listeners of Jesus must have been shocked. They are looking for a messiah to lead them out of Roman oppression. The only language Rome understands is violence. So what will God’s response to Rome look like? Perhaps a raging storm that destroys all evil. Perhaps a thundering army that vanquishes the evildoers. But Jesus chooses the gentlest metaphors to describe God’s kingdom. A tiny seed that grows into a place of shelter. A speck of yeast that converts barrels of flour into bread. The Kingdom of God, Jesus tells us, starts with something small and seemingly insignificant that works its magical transformation over time, until the utterly profane is transformed into the gloriously sacred.
This hexagram consists of a doubling of the Spirit trigram. The image of Spirit is Gentle Wind, and its attribute is Penetrating. Thus we have a doubling of the gentleness that, over time, penetrates even the hardest substance and transforms it.
There is a time...
- To meet rigid darkness with gentle light.
- To meet dark, sinister motives with the penetrating light of judgment.
- To understand that meeting force with force results in hardening, while meeting force with gentleness results in softening.
- To understand that the gains one makes through gentleness are more complete and enduring than the gains one makes through force.
- To remember that the positive changes brought about by gentleness do not take place overnight, and that time is the natural ally of gentleness.
- To understand that the force of gentleness must be focused and continuous, so that the hard will eventually give way to the gentle.
- To find a leader who understands how to marshal gentleness to change people’s souls.
Now is that time.
A moving line in the bottom position reminds us that there is a difference between gentleness and indecisiveness. One who is indecisive wavers between pushing forward and pulling back. Such an approach can never be successful. Even resolute discipline is better than this. The positive force of gentleness works differently. It maintains its focus and effort, never faltering and never wavering, and in this way it gradually wears away the resistance.
A moving line in the second position suggests that there are hidden enemies and influences that are corroding the work of the gentle. It is now necessary to focus on these forces, painstakingly tracing them back to their covert and obscure origins. Once found, the sources of this negativity must be revealed for what they are. They will wither when exposed to the light.
A moving line in the third position warns that there is such a thing as too much reflection. Reflection can eventually deteriorate into ineffectual indecisiveness. Once all sides of an issue have been studied, bring the discussion to an end, decide on a course of action, act decisively, and follow through.
A moving line in the fourth position points to the synergistic relationship between genuine modesty and energetic action. When these two come together, great success is assured. The line also suggests the situation requires equal attention to three related areas: spirituality, hospitality, and sustainability.
A moving line in the fifth position describes how to deal with a situation that is not going well. It is not time to abandon the effort, but only to take a new direction. It is a time for refining the approach, improving where possible and changing where necessary. The line warns that such adaptations should be made only after careful thought. Once the adaptations are put into effect, the line tells us to once again pause and reflect on whether the changes have had their intended effect.
A moving line in the top position describes one who understands what needs to be done and has chased negativity into its hidden corners. But the effort has been draining, and the gentle no longer has the strength to continue the struggle. Further efforts at this time can therefore only bring defeat.
Other interpretations of Archetype 57:
- Tom Christensen's interpretation [click here]
- Cafe Au Soul's interpretation [click here]
- LiSe's interpretation [click here]
- Richard Wilhelm's interpretation [click here]
- Return to the Hexagram Index Table [click here].
- Return to Consulting the Christian I Ching [click here].
- Purchase a printed copy of Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching [click here].
- Learn about our Online Christian I Ching Workshop [click here].
- Find out about personal consultations [click here].
Reproduced with permission from Wisdom's Way; The Christian I Ching copyright (c) 2015 Roger Sessions.