Guidance from the I Ching: #44 - Temptation

Think before you act

December 7, 2020

“Do not unite with an inferior element in your situation. The enlightened person formulates a code of conduct and abides by it.”

I consult the I Ching (Book Of Changes) for inspiration at the start of every week. This week’s message is all about maintaining a purity of purpose.

Is it worth the risk?

It’s easy to give in to Temptation. Something or someone catches your eye. You become entranced by the allure of the unknown. You are now facing a decision – do you stay with what you are committed to or risk it all for something that only looks good on the surface? In consulting the I Ching, this hexagram often comes as an answer to questions surrounding dramatic circumstances. Temptation serves to provide a warning that impulsive actions at the moment could create a turbulent future outcome.

“Temptation is the I Ching’s warning you that you are vulnerable to making bad choices in the strongest possible terms. So before you abandon ship, think things through and be sure that you do your due diligence. “

Jose Johnson

New isn’t always better

During times of Temptation, opportunities abound. But just because something is readily available doesn’t mean that it’s the best option. A perfect example is fast food. When you are hungry, the quickest, cheapest, and most readily available things to eat are generally the worst things for you. The I Ching cautions against snap decisions based on emotions. As the old saying goes, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” We live in a society that has become obsessed with quick fixes or the next big thing. We suffer from “shiny object” syndrome because we lack patience and perseverance. When things get tough, it’s easier to look outside for a solution than to look inward for what we can change about ourselves. New techniques, strategies, or relationships are sexy. Hard work and consistency? Not so much.

Hexagram 44 is sometimes translated as Adultery. In this case, it refers to joining with an idea, practice, or person that is not the right fit, particularly with our standards and values. To adulterate somethings is to corrupt or spoil it by adding inferior ingredients. When you are in pursuit of a goal closely connected to your core values, you must resist giving in to the Temptation of new relationships before you dig a little deeper into their worth or motivations. Remember, not everyone who offers you help actually wants to help you. And not every new system, hack, or revolutionary new breakthrough will give you the results they promise. Temptation is the I Ching’s warning you that you are vulnerable to making bad choices in the strongest possible terms. So before you abandon ship, think things through and be sure that you do your due diligence.

The allure of power

Temptation often leads to a lapse in judgment. It blinds us to the potential downside of our actions. The I Ching warns that Temptation creates a situation where inferior forces are put in superior positions, leading to disaster. According to the I Ching, “the inferior person rises only because the superior person does not regard them as dangerous and so lends them power.” The longer they stay entrenched in a position of power, the harder it becomes to remove them, and the more damage they can do. It is necessary to be willing to either speak up against or completely disassociate with those who seek power only for the sake of power. In times of Temptation, make sure that you stay true to your higher sense of purpose. The I Ching warns us not to take advantage of our authority or capitalize on our connections with people in influential positions. During times of Temptation, you must wield power with honor, dignity, and great responsibility. (See my blog on Great Power for more on that topic.)

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What Temptations are you facing? Are you tempted to buy the newest exercise equipment because it will help you get in shape finally? Are you a business owner in search of the next “magic bullet” to cure your marketing woes? Are you tempted to give up on your dreams because things are more demanding than you imagined? We all constantly face Temptations, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give in to them. Sometimes, you need to make a radical change, and the “new” can motivate us or give us a fresh approach to things. But many times, the issue lies within ourselves – in our lack of commitment and determination when things get tough. Is it the situation that needs changing, or is it you? According to Confucius, “when meeting contention in another, it would be wise to examine oneself.” Temptation calls us to find external solutions to our internal problems. So change if you must, but make sure that you are not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.



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