10: Treading Carefully

Competent people find their way and make progress, even in difficult circumstances. Consider your steps carefully when powerful forces surround you. The weak and strong can coexist when the weaker element does not impose upon the stronger one, when it maintains good humor, and when it avoids taking bold action. When treading among sleeping tigers or slippery stones, step gingerly, and don’t stumble.

At this time, a relatively humble force or person is having influence over a stronger one and, for this reason, must be particularly careful. In the company of brash people, rushing wildly ahead will only bring misfortune. Now is not a good time for taking initiative; rather, try getting by with a little grace and good humor. In the court of a powerful king, the jester often has more power than a prince.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

When coming from a humble position, inner strength in the form of modesty is a key to advancement. Conscientious work is rewarded when one’s motives are simple and intentions genuine (especially when credit goes to the supervisor). Simplicity in action will leave you free of obligation. To strive aggressively now could put you in a position of greater difficulty.

Line 2

Beyond the trauma of failure lies the stillness of wisdom. Withdrawing from the bustle of events and eliminating unnecessary desires brings clarity of purpose. Life becomes a smoother road when you understand that happiness comes less from having what you want than from wanting what you have. Be grateful for what you have.

Line 3

When people with poor vision tread among sleeping tigers, they meet with disaster. Do not try to go beyond your capacity at this time—you will create problems if you think your power is greater than it is. If you believe you can overcome all obstacles by aggressive effort alone, misfortune is highly likely; to plunge recklessly ahead would be to risk great failure. Even if you think you are in the right, do not overestimate your strength. Keep your ambitions in check for the time being.

Line 4

When you are certain of your ultimate success, even stomping on the tiger’s tail doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to take action when conditions are favorable. Even so, great caution and consideration should be taken beforehand, so that the outcome is clear before you make your move.

Line 5

Walking among sleeping tigers is dangerous. Resolute conduct in the face of danger and a clear-eyed assessment of the situation are the only means of a successful resolution.

Line 6 (top line)

Your work has reached a stage of completion, and now it’s time to count your blessings. By assessing the results of your past efforts, you can know what to expect going forward. The farmer who harvests healthy crops in the fall can safely predict a prosperous winter.