4: Youthful Folly

Be on guard for the careless or rebellious attitudes characteristic of inexperience. Just as a youth requires instruction, this is a good time to focus on learning lessons from a patient teacher or from life experience. Is there a circumstance in your life that you have failed to comprehend, perhaps because you didn’t appreciate its inherent complexities? Be respectful of anything or anyone who has something to teach you right now. If you are focusing on a relationship, ask yourself which of you is currently the student and which of you is the sage. If you are a parent, ask yourself: Who is being the teacher—my child or me?

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

Examine your attitude for factors that would limit your openness. Observe how you deal with the mistakes of others. Let people live their own lives and learn their own lessons. You may offer them your wisdom or advice, but do so only if they are receptive. Give up trying to convince others that you are right, as it is both exhausting and counterproductive. Instead, allow others to proceed, even into difficult or dangerous circumstances. It may be the only way they can learn; and without learning, no one can achieve success. Care without forcing attention; trying to take care of someone who is unwilling can actually be harmful. Live and let learn.

Changing Line Interpretations

Line 1 (bottom line)

Sustainable progress requires some degree of order. Training begins with discipline. It is the nature of youth to stumble into error through carelessness or playfulness; similar problems can plague childish adults too. While discipline is essential to achieve success, steer clear of boring routines or extreme regulations that choke creativity.

Line 2

Treating foolishness kindly can actually bring good fortune. Be patient with the ignorant. If you are around children, accept their shortcomings. Give them a good education and be there when they need you; and one day, they will lead. Treat your associates compassionately, especially if they have not yet achieved what you have. Inner strength combined with outer reserve develops 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 manipulate, woo, or win the respect of others. Like a flippant young woman who throws herself at a millionaire, it is undignified to offer oneself without reserve 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 magical thinking and fantastic dreams. From these entanglements, there are only two ways out: 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, brings success to endeavors. When you maintain a childlike openness of mind, you become a magnet for fresh insights and gain unique 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 fits 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 transgression go unpunished. Be firm, but remember that the goal of effective punishment is the re-establishment of equilibrium, not revenge.