The very first hexagram of I-Ching is Heaven. Its sixth and last stage line has the description of "Top dragon has regrets". Why the very top dragon, or may be should be the 'top-dog' in English, should have any regrets. He has reached the highest position already, then why the regrets? Furthermore, in my of my presentation on I-Ching, a person asked, "then how do I prevent the regret?". The intention of the author of I-Ching is to warn us first so that we can prevent the predicted disaster from happening. Since the warning is given, the how-to prevent must be elsewhere in the I-Ching book or else the author has just given useless warning.Why the regrets?
I think there could be a few reasons. First regrets is about good time is coming to an end. A Chinese has a saying, “夕阳无限好，只是近黄昏”, The setting sun is extremely beautiful but it is near dusk and the night is coming. I may be now the chairman of the board, but very soon, they will have a retirement party for me. My good and glorious time is coming to end soon. There is no way to prevent or escape it. We really don't want to go into a stage where we only want to talk of the good old days. The second type of regret is even worse. Of all the achievements and wealth that we spent our time and effort to gain and accumulate, we now find that they are of not much use. They may not worth the costs (the health, the broken relationships, the rebellious children etc) we paid to get them! We may not live long enough to enjoy them. Someone else, who is unrelated and even did not put any effort to get them, get to inherit them. This is one of the reason cited in Ecclesiastes, "Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity and meaningless". (See The Meaning of Life from the Wisest, Richest and Most Powerful King) All our effort and life working to gain things that are meaningless! What regrets will that be?
How to regret not?
The two reasons for regrets are 'ending soon' and 'meaningless waste of life'. The answers will be finding the meaning of life and create a lasting legacy. These answers are found in I-Ching.
The Meaning of Life According to I-Ching
The teaching of I-Ching can be summed up as creating a better world of abundance and flow by having a harmony with heaven, earth and men. The purpose of life is not just about self and self alone. It is about having harmony with men, mother nature and creator God. How? By creating value like #1 Creator Heaven and caring for others like #2 Mother Earth. By giving and sharing our best with others who also give of their best to us as in #11 Greatness from Interactions. Then, #32 Lasting teaches us how to create legacies that last.
What does the top dragon have?
When we have grown to be the top dragon, we must have mature and accumulate a lot. What does growth mean in I-Ching? By going through the hexagrams that contains the word 大 great, we can find the following hexagrams (taking from my book "I-Ching for Success in a VUCAD World"):
- #16 Enjoy and Passion: Have passion that cause you to start and sustained the achievements of your life.
- #59 Dispersion: Have great ability to expand your business through out and influencing many people and their lives.
- #26 Large Accumulation not just of wealth but really of character strength.
- #34 Great Strength of character, wisdom, power and resources to do great things.
- #14 Great Possession and hence don't hoard it but to use them wisely to benefit the world as per the purpose and meaning of life.
- #28 Excessive of boldness and strength to bring forth great transformation.
- #64 Uncompleted - knowing that there are more you can do and learn despite what you already can and own.
Looking up my I-Ching book on "Entrepeurship III Success", we have a key phrase for it. It is the 'Joy of Sharing". By using the great possession and ability that we, the top dragons have, we do #14 worthy projects, #42 benefiting others from our overflowing increase , #48 preserve and share the valuable assets, #55 Abundance is for sharing with others. Wealth is not measured by how much you hoard but by how much you give and use for benefiting others. It is therefore not surprising that such wealthy people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Li Ka Shing and many others give away much of their wealth and spend time in running many charitable organizations.
The purpose and meaning of life is about building oneself and then helping and sharing with others to make this world a better place for all and to leave behind a lasting legacy that continue the contribution while we are not longer around.
Lao Zi has a great saying on this, in Dao De Jing chapter 33,
(see The Principles for Greatness)
- Not losing oneself will last.不失其所者久，
- Died and yet one’s legacy continues is long life.死而不亡者寿。
Here is a mind map that summarizes the Purpose and How-to of Life from the wisdom of I-Ching: