The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Everyone has heard this saying, but I never did understand what it truly meant. After all, if one has good intentions, why would that good intention cause one to go to hell? Shouldn’t that be the fate of one with bad intentions? Shouldn’t good intentions at least get an honorable mention, or a brownie point, even if it did not bring about the desired effect or end result? After all, if we cannot trust our good intentions, we would always freeze up, for fear of being wrong or inadvertently paving the road to hell, any time there is a need for action. Yet, the option to act without good intention is not a viable option for me.
So— what the fritz do I do?
My ignorance of the answer to this perplexing puzzle, once again, propelled me back to the I Ching for guidance.
My question: How can I act upon my good intentions and not have to worry about paving the road to hell?
I Ching gave a solid and immediate answer. Inner Truth.
Inner Truth is what the man of high integrity cultivates within himself and what he utilizes as his main source of power to influence the world. His power is such that he can attempt to cross the great water in relative safety.
It sounds so great, and seems so divine in nature. I thought, surely it would be fairly simple to discern Inner Truth as opposed to say… Inner Falsehood. Sad to say, my inner-truth compass spins wildly sometimes. The lines are not as clearly delineated as I would hope they’d be. Sometimes, it is internal conflict which causes the fuzziness of the lines, and at other times, external factors impose themselves upon my judgment, coloring the two sides, similar shades of grey.
I had to dig deeper into the Oracle to figure out the answer to this.
#61 – Chung Fu – Inner Truth – Wilhelm trans.
Inner Truth. Pigs and fishes.
It furthers one to cross the great water.
Pigs and fishes are the least intelligent of all animals and therefore the most difficult to influence. The force of Inner Truth must grow great indeed before its influence can extend to such creatures.
In dealing with persons as intractable and as difficult to influence as a pig or a fish, the whole secret of success depends on finding the right way of approach. One must first rid oneself of all prejudice and, so to speak, let the psyche of the other person act on one without restraint. Then one will establish contact with him, understand and again power over him.
When a door has thus been opened, the force of one’s personality will influence him. If in this way one finds no obstacles insurmountable, one can undertake even the most dangerous things, such as crossing the great water, and succeed. — Wilhelm
In other words, I can act upon my good intentions (succeed in crossing the great water without leaving that intractable person behind) without having to worry about paving the road to hell.
Wind over lake: the image of Inner Truth.
Wind stirs water by penetrating it. Thus the superior man, when obliged to judge the mistakes of men, tries to penetrate their minds with understanding, in order to gain a sympathetic appreciation of the circumstance. — Wilhelm.
This is similar to, but different from Compassion. With Compassion, one needs only to feel what the other feels. Inner Truth requires understanding the other’s point of view as well, and this requires both a firm and strong movement forward, into another person’s mind (yang/the easy), while firmly anchored to one’s own soul (yin/the simple).
Ta Chuan / The Great Treatise – Chapter 8:
6. Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament, but afterward they laugh.
The Master said:
Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
The force of Inner Truth depends chiefly on inner stability and preparedness. From this state of mind springs the correct attitude toward the outer world.
Whenever a feeling is voiced with truth and frankness, whenever a deed is the clear expression of sentiment, a mysterious and far-reaching influence is exerted. At first it acts on those who are inwardly receptive. But the circle grows larger and larger. The root of all influence lies in one’s own inner being: given true and vigorous expression in word and deed, its effect is great. — Wilhelm.
So, I Ching says that to develop Inner Truth, we have to work on our inner stability and preparedness. In other words, we have to cultivate Integrity, which will keep us from being paved along the road to hell.
But that’s just the icing on the cake. The real treasure is what lies beyond this. Confucius recognized this power by stating: Through words and deeds, the superior man moves heaven and earth.
That is powerful!
I went from: “Dear I Ching, how can I avoid being paved over on the path to hell?” to: “If I can cultivate Integrity, which leads to Inner Truth, not only do I NOT have to worry about being roadkill, I can atually move the road so that it goes to heaven!”