8 of Cups – Moving On

The 8 of Cups shows a person walking away from eight upright cups. He departs in the middle of the night and the only thing he takes with him is a staff for support.

The eight cups he walks away from symbolize his achievements and possessions. This suggests that he is dissatisfied, and maybe even disillusioned, by material wealth and status. What he has attained throughout his life has not produced the expected joy. In spite of his wealth, he feels no fulfillment.

By initiating his journey at night, he is being guided by the moon. As such, this is not a journey of adventure and excitement. Rather, what he is seeking is truth and self-awareness.

This card invites us to examine our purpose and ask whether our daily actions and accumulations are taking us to where we want to be. Are we holding onto things, statuses and relationships that do not serve our higher purpose? Do our current attachments hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be?

Sometimes, we find ourselves in difficult situations because of bad luck or poor decisions. Often times, however, the causes for our unhappiness is much more subtle and less dramatic. Instead of making poor decisions, we simply failed to choose. We allow the currents of the time and the will of others to take us down paths that lead us away from our destinies. By the time we stop, we’ve come so far that we have no idea how we got there and have even less clue on how to get back on track.

As difficult and frightening as this may be, once we discover that we are off track, we must do whatever it takes to find our way back. This can mean separation from things that makes us comfortable and things that we love. We may even have to leave all paths behind and venture off into uncharted territories with nothing but our own moral compass to guide us.

Don’t hold onto things that hurt us, or worst – numb us – because we fear change. Find courage to start anew because, as frightening as change may be, staying may be much more devastating in the long run.


Hexagram 24 – Return

One yang line lying underneath five yin lines create the image of early spring, when the days begin to grow long again – the time of year when light returns. Hexagram 24 describes a turning point of events and reminds us that darkness doesn’t last forever. Therefore, in the depth of pain and fear, do not despair.

However, do not confuse this hexagram’s message as a mere assurance that things are going to get better. It promises no such thing. What it tells us is that there is an opportunity to turn away from our current path.

Furthermore, if we do choose to take advantage of this opportunity, we have to return to our centre of balance before we can pivot in any other direction. In other words, before we can take physical or mental action towards change, we have to stop what we are currently doing first. Use this time to rest and return to our original nature by stripping ourselves of excess. Only after we’ve cleared our foundation of rust and mold can we begin building again.

Nine on line 1:

Those who are conscientious of right and wrong never stray far from the path. Even if errors are committed, it does not take long to return to the true course. Everyone makes mistakes but the difference between the superior and the petty is that the superior ones learn from them. As a result, they become stronger with each return to the true course. In this way, they are able to turn their mistakes into good fortune by utilizing them as lessons.

Six on line 2:

It takes competence and a measure of luck to succeed upon a first attempt. For the many of us who do not possess such wisdom or good fortune, success is achieved through the willingness to pick ourselves up and try again after experiencing failure or disappointment. To return to the beginning after rest and contemplation shows determination and maturity.

Six on line 3:

To make mistakes is normal. To make the same mistakes over and over again demonstrates lack of self-control and carelessness. While the I Ching commends those who have the courage to return to the correct course after being led astray, effort must be taken to act more carefully after each return in order to move forward.

Six on line 4:

Sometimes the mistakes that lead us away from the correct path are made as a group. When we find ourselves in company with people who are walking away from our true destination, we must separate ourselves from the crowd, even if it means traveling alone.

Six on line 5:

Do not allow errors to turn into regrets by refusing to acknowledge one’s own mistakes. Be honest with ourselves and we will know which way to go when the time comes to choose between right and wrong.

Six on line 6:

Everything has its time and place. The period between discovering an error and taking actions to correct it is limited. If we do not act accordingly right away, this window of opportunity will close and we will be left with only regrets. Mistakes turn into disasters when we refuse to learn.



The first step to correcting an error is acknowledging that one has been made in the first place. This is more difficult than it sounds because humans are creatures of comfort. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. We do not like to feel stupid or sad so we try to avoid facing our mistakes or anything that frightens and upset us.

On the other hand, there are people who are extremely fixated on the negative. Those who are constantly focused on the unpleasant things in life, whether they blame themselves or others, are just as helpless. No meaningful change can be made with a negative attitude. We need to understand ourselves without judgement in order to know the source of our discontent and how it has occurred.

Then, once the source of the problem is identified, determination is required to do something about it. This is the purpose of acceptance. Without the will to change, acceptance of discontent will only result in defeat.