5 of Wands – Conflict

The five men in this card are all in direct competition with each. There are no apparent similarities between any of them and they all seem to be fighting for themselves instead of forming alliances. However, while the situation is chaotic, it is not violent. No one is actually striking at each other and no one is harmed. This is the image of competition.

Competition arises when multiple parties want the same thing but not everyone can have it. It also occurs  when people share common goals but cannot agree upon the methods of getting there. It can manifest in the form of healthy competitions like job applications or debates but it can also create stress, mistrust, and frustration that result in severed relationships and even violence.

Negative competition can hinder progress or even be the cause of failure. Thus, it is very important to learn how to deal with competing interests and opinions in a constructive manner.

The key to constructive competition is to respect your opponent by remembering the simple rules of engagement. If you want to speak, you must first learn to listen. When people disagree with you, welcome their points of view because they may provide you with information that you have not considered before. When you need to disagree with others, do so civilly. If you are arguing, try to turn the argument into a debate. If you are in a debate, try to turn it into a meaningful conversation. Most importantly, always be aware of your own tendencies towards anger, bias and prejudice.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that occasional competitions are not only inevitable, but sometimes, they can even be beneficial. Many organizations actually incorporate it into their structure. Schools teach us competition through organized sports. Democratic countries have multiple political parties that debate, argue and disagree on legislations even though they all want what is best for their country.

Competition, when managed properly becomes another stepping stone for growth instead of a road block.


Hexagram 38 – Opposition

This hexagram is comprised of fire above lake. The flames of fire rises upwards while the waters of lake flows downwards so the two elements are moving away from each other. On the one hand, this creates the image of incompatibility. On the other hand, it is an image of nature as it should be, with the sun up in the sky and water down here on earth.

The lesson that this hexagram teaches is that harmony is created through differences. While the two element will never blend, they work together to produce the fertility on earth. The wise will understand that this is the reality of yin and yang. Like the exchange between fire and water, the goal when encountering opposition is not to eliminate the other, but to harmonize differences so that people with varying skills and views can all contribute to the greater good.

The I Ching advises us that small matters may be accomplished with differing views and still produce great success. Yet, it is important to try to minimize differences because larges differences can lead to separation.

Nine on line 1:

Do not try to settle differences through force or by imposing your will upon others and do not engage people filled with hate. Applying pressure only drives people away and no constructive conversation can be had with people who are filled with negative intentions.

Nine on line 2:

When there is a disagreement, reconciliation and compromises should be sought. All parties should try to step out of their comfort zone and meet each other under neutral grounds to resume conversation.

Six on line 3:

Opposition can lead to feelings of defeat. Do not be discouraged but keep working through it. With sincerity and good will, understanding can be reached.

Nine on line 4:

Being opposed, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and betrayal. This is a dangerous state for it can lead to separation and permanent alienation. Instead of dwelling in this state of self-pity and indignation, find ways to compromise and join with others. Instead of blaming others for our injury, find common ground and exchange trust.

Six on line 5:

Opposition is overcome by reconnecting with those who share common roots. Dig deep into the core of our being to find commonalities that we can build upon. Do not hold grudges but forgive others’ flaws so that they may forgive us for ours. Examine others’ intention deeply and we may find that we have misjudged them. Examine ourselves to untangle any misconceptions and unfair biases.

Nine on line 6:

In the midst of opposition, be careful that we do not become overly defensive and see enemies where there are none. Sometimes, our worst enemies are our own misjudgement. Understand that being different does not equate to being evil and only when this veil of mistrust and hatred is removed can opposition be overcome.



Diversity is the source of life on earth. Nature is a whole comprised on myriad different things. An ecosystem requires multiple fauna and flora to sustain itself. Some of them work together while others are in direct competition with each other. Yet, even the ones in competition depend on each other because they all have a different role to play in supporting and nourishing the home they share.

Humanity is a subset of this reality. People with different beliefs and talents gather together in mutually beneficial ways. No two people are the same but many of us share commonalities with others. When we focus on our similarities, we work together and flourish. When we insist upon our differences, tension and mistrust takes over and progress is stalled.