Friday, 28 September 2012

Enthusiasm, Excess, Happiness (I Ching, 16 — yù)

 16. yù — thunder/earth


When we are enthused, when we are happy, when we have a surplus, it is worthwhile to get organized, appoint helpers and venture out on worthwhile projects. 


1. Trumpeting out our enthusiasm does no good. It wastes the energy that should be reserved for action.

2. Our certainty is as solid as a rock, but by the end of the day, we are spent. This bodes well! Just observe the rising of negative thoughts, and cut them at the root.

3. If we depend on others to reinforce our enthusiasm, and for self-verification, then we will regret it. Any delay will bring regret. Do good without thought, quickly! For if you are slow, doubt will overcome you.

4. Become acquainted with the well-spring of your enthusiasm. If it is great, then it will bring fortune and success. Have no doubt that if you persist in your truth, friends will stand by you as in a hairpin to assist in your venture.

5. Know the sources of enthusiasm that bode ill and will cause you suffering. Ultimately, they will not kill you, but be sure to learn from them. Observing your feelings with a friendly detachment, you allow life to become your teacher. As you grow out of the shell of your conditioning, you begin to write your own destiny.

6. If enthusiasm arises from dark motives, then you may succeed at first, but it will be a pyrrhic victory. That’s life! Change course to what is balanced and correct to align with your inner truth. This will always serve you best in the long run.

Image Explanation by Margaret Pearson: Thunder over Earth. Early Chinese envisaged earthquakes as thunder breaking out of the earth. Having excess is likened to such an upheaval. This image reminds us that having much can be dangerous if it is not shared in appropriate ways. With increased wealth or power come responsibilities too great for one person to control alone. Having too much can end up being upsetting as earthquakes upset the earth. New forms must be created to delegate, to recognize the good in others and to celebrate in sacred rites and song the joy that comes from abundance. Some of the excess must be sacrificed to the Highest Power, and then shared among those whom we can trust to take care of our community. Only in this way can we be worthy of those who have contributed to the fortune of our present situation. (based on "The Original I Ching", Margaret Pearson)

The version in green is my own, from various sources.

Another good link:

Paintings: by Adèle Aldridge from
Photo: by Diana Paola from


  1. Hmm Interesting topic.
    I am no expert on this, but I rather think enthusiasm is dependent on more than one factor. For instance, the physical. If you are tired, it does not appear. In addition, I think it might have something to do with personality as well. I have a friend who is bubbly, high energy and very enthusiastic. I, on the contrary, am very much in the middle of the road, with hardly any ups or downs, almost a straight line of emotions.
    Emotions including enthusiasm do not generally appear. I won't say never, but very seldom. Maybe its all the meditation I do.. who knows, and really, who cares? :)

  2. You transform it into something else I think into silent determination.

  3. "Maybe its all the meditation I do.. who knows, and really, who cares? :) "

    hehehe... I care ...... I think because I have come to see the value of meditation
    for balancing or steadying of enthusiasm.
    I think enthusiasm has it's place but it can be a short lived burst of passion,
    rather than providing the stamina for determination, often required of
    actions taken to engage or encourage change in one direction or another.

    lol... and it's taken me so long to respond that Okie
    has put into one small line what took me a paragraph.

    stay well

  4. I can get quite enthusiastic. I just enjoy it, it keeps me from getting too old.

    (From The Old Codger's Dictionary . . . Enthusiasm - a nervous disorder affecting the young and inexperienced.)

  5. I think you're right Lin. I believe all emotions have their place, as long as you know when there is an up there will be a down and everything is impermanent.

  6. From The Old Codger's Dictionary . . . Enthusiasm - a nervous disorder affecting the young and inexperienced.)

    lol... great definition from a great dictionary... hehe.


  7. One thing that struck me was how it said, if at the end of the day we are spent, tired and not enthusiastic at all, this is really a good sign.

    There are times when I get enthusiastic about something at the end of a day, and by the time morning comes around I've completely forgotten about it, lol. What a waste that can be! This can work for the opposite emotion also — whenever you're upset about something, sleep has a good way of working its way through the emotion.

    And I guess meditation is just a wise way of being able to process our emotions while awake, and so not burying the feelings.

  8. I don't like your Old Codger's Dictionary Jon, because it could equally say the same for happiness...

    And the old dude in the picture above I thought was a perfect picture for enthusiasm, excess, happiness ... well, certainly excess! :^)

  9. It amused me, Okei, but if you don't like it I'll remove it.

  10. Okie ..... Am I correct in thinking you equate enthusiasm with happiness ?

    I'm not sure if that's what you mean or not !!

    Quite often when I am over come with enthusiasm .... happiness is definitely
    not always the motivating factor ..... for tenthusiam .... it can arise from
    dis-satisfaction ..... just as quickly can it not.

    : ))


  11. I don't mean that, and I don't mean either that the Chinese equated the two. But the interpretation of Chinese characters from two thousand plus years ago are unknown. Even at the time the I Ching was written, a character might well have been ambiguous having multiple meanings, but after centuries of re-interpretation and application to alternative situations, then it became even more so!

    In fact, in the oldest manuscripts of this hexagram discovered in the 1970s, a different character entirely is used, one meaning "excess" (pronounced the same way yù, but with a different symbol). In the traditional version of the text though, it's the character in the painting above which means happiness, or enthusiasm.

    An excess of happiness is indeed a kind of bubbling of enthusiasm that Jon wittily described as a nervous disorder of the young. But as a definition, Old Codger's dictionary is then just as ambiguous as Chinese, and doesn't take into account the positivity that this word is supposed to carry (I know I'm being too serious here!).

    Much metta!

  12. Serious is fine ...... you'll simply have to be patient with those of us who
    are a little slow on the pick-up me.... : ))

    "In the traditional version of the text though, it's the character in the painting above which means happiness, or enthusiasm."

    : ))