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I Ching Hexagram Interpretations

4: Youthful Folly

Youthful Folly

Be on guard for the careless or rebellious attitudes characteristic of youthful inexperience. Just as a youth requires instruction, this is a good time to focus on learning lessons from a patient teacher or life experience. Is there a circumstance in your life that you have failed to comprehend completely, perhaps because you have failed to appreciate its inherent complexities? Be respectful of anything or anyone who has something to teach you right now. If your inquiry was about a relationship, ask yourself which of you is the student and which of you is the sage right now? If you are a parent, ask yourself: Who is being the teacher — you or your child?

In order to be ready for challenging times, let education be an ongoing part of your life. Develop the strong mind and will necessary to carry you through confusing times. The wise realize that experience, especially difficult experience, is a powerful teacher. But we cannot be forced to learn, even from experience. Be a humble student who delights in learning, one who nourishes his or her expanding awareness.

Examine your attitude for factors that limit openness. Observe how you deal with partners’ mistakes. You must let people live their own lives and learn their own lessons. Offer others your wisdom or advice, but only if they are receptive. Otherwise, give up trying to convince them that you are right — that is exhausting and counter-productive. If people are not receptive, let them proceed — into difficult or even dangerous circumstances. It is the only way they can learn, and without learning, no one can achieve success. This does not mean that you should not care — just that trying to take care of someone else can sometimes be harmful. Live and let learn.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

A sustainable progress requires some degree of order. Education begins with discipline. It is the nature of youth to stumble into error through carelessness or playfulness; similar problems can plague adults too. While discipline is essential to achieve success, liberate yourself from boring routines or extreme regulations that choke creativity.

Line 2

Treating foolishness kindly brings good fortune. Be patient with the ignorant. If you are around children, learn to accept their shortcomings. Give them a good education, be there when they need you, and one day they will lead. Treat your associates kindly, especially if they have not achieved what you have. Inner strength combined with outer reserve is develops into true leadership.

Line 3

Devotion to the rich, powerful or beautiful is dangerous! A weak person can easily lose his or her individuality in trying to imitate, woo the affection or win the respect of others. Like the flippant young girl who throws herself at the handsome millionaire, it is undignified to offer oneself unequivocally to anyone. Better to let the other -- your superior, your desired lover, your investor, whomever -- come at least part of the way down the road to meet you.

Line 4

Clinging to fantasies leads to humiliation. In a state of hopeful excitement, it is easy to entangle oneself in fantastic dreams. From these entanglements, there are only two escapes: awakening to reality, or suffering humiliation. The choice is yours.

Line 5

A fresh innocence brings good fortune. A lack of preconceptions, combined with a respect for life’s teachers, will bring success to endeavors. When you maintain a childlike openness of mind, you become a magnet for fresh insights and gain special glimpses into the nature of things.

Line 6 (top line)

You may want to correct another for a perceived wrongdoing, but take care that the punishment fit the “crime.” While it’s true that karma evens the score with those who spurn natural laws, persons in authority offend the same natural laws if they let a crime go unpunished. Be firm, but remember that the goal of all effective punishment is the reestablishment of equilibrium, not revenge.