Guidance from the I Ching: #3 - Difficulty

It’s only difficult until you figure it out

Hexagram 31 Influence

October 5, 2020

“Difficulty indicates progress and success through firm correctness. Action should not be undertaken lightly, and it is wise to seek help. This hexagram symbolizes lightning spewed forth by the clouds. The Superior Person busies themself setting things in order.”

I consult the I Ching (Book Of Changes) for inspiration at the start of every week. This week’s message is all about growth through adversity.

This week’s hexagram should come as no surprise. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that we are all living in difficult times. But what does the real Einstein have to say about that? According to Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” This statement rings true with the teaching of the I Ching on the subject of living in Difficult times.

Difficult times arise when there are a host of factors struggling to take form. At first glance, this hexagram suggests complete chaos, but it is actually predicting a time of order and efficiency. Times of improved organization spring from times of disorder. Difficult times serve as a perfect reminder that we need to embrace friction because it is the catalyst for evolution. Difficult times embody the fact that opposing qualities are necessary to create the need and desire to change.

Also referred to as Difficult Beginnings, all signs indicate a journey into unknown territory. Confusion abounds because all of the pieces of the puzzle have not yet come together. The I Ching reminds us that every new journey begins with some confusion because we are entering unknown realms. And because the situation is unique, we don’t have the clarity and confidence that comes from experience. Remember that all new endeavors present a level of uncertainty, but that is no reason to give up.

“Staying connected with your passion and purpose is the secret to persevering. Obstacles test our commitment to what we are doing and reveal our true nature.”

Jose Johnson

As we navigate Difficult times, it is crucial to hold firm to your principles and vision. When times are tough, the I Ching reminds us that “success comes to those who can weather the storm while maintaining their principles.” Staying connected with your passion and purpose is the secret to persevering. Obstacles test our commitment to what we are doing and reveal our true nature. To ensure that Difficult Beginnings don’t last too long, establish correct procedures and habits. Remember that a misstep at the beginning can place you in a hopeless situation in the future.

Going it alone is not an option during Difficult times. Your plate is more than likely full of a multitude of details that must be dealt with before you go any further. Now is not the time for rugged individualism; it’s the time to call in the reinforcements. In business matters, the I Ching advises you to hire skilled employees to help you reach your goals. By adding their contributions to your unique skills, you are on the path to success.
Difficulty can signal that you need to start small and focus on the current problem, regardless of how inexperienced or uncertain you may feel. During Difficult times it is best to remain calm and look to others for guidance and advice. The simple decision of seeking outside council will help you successfully sort things out. A fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective will grant you insights that you would never see on your own.

The I Ching cautions that you may experience confusion, indecision, or new tastes and desires during times of Difficulty. Some may view these symptoms as an identity crisis. The I Ching advises that these feelings are natural and that you should accept these changes without fighting them. Why? Because change must always come from within. To change your situation requires a shift in attitude and action. In fact, during times of Difficulty, the I Ching warns that “If you are rooted in the old, nothing should be continued.” Now is the perfect time to learn to see the ‘teacher’ in your challenges. We learn more through our difficulties that we do in times of ease. Difficulty forces you to carve away the things in your life that are not necessary. When you can eliminate fear, defensiveness, and pre-conceived notions about your situation, you will find yourself soaring at a higher altitude.

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To quote the I Ching, “to be skilled in the Way, be fearless in approaching change.” When we understand that it is only by experiencing Difficulty that we ultimately grow into ease, we can transform our fear of what is into anticipation of what can be.

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