On Guard


9 of Wands – Vigilance

The figure shown in the 9 of Wands looks like he has been through some rough times. His head is bandaged and he stands leaning against his wand, as though he is too tired to stand up straight on his own. In spite of the apparent exhaustion, however, it is obvious that he is not ready to rest. Rather, his facial expression is alert and cautious, looking out for any signs of trouble. He does not believe that the fight is truly over and he will remain guarded until he could be convinced otherwise. This is the image of vigilance.

Both this card and the 6 of Wands teach us not to become arrogant after achieving success. The 6 tells us that we should remain humble and grateful while this card warns against the danger of over confidence. We must remain vigilant after the fight has been won because our winnings can be taken away from us the moment we become careless. Do not allow ourselves to believe we are invincible and dismiss others as being too insignificant to worry about. Such arrogance is how the rabbit lost the race to the turtle.

In addition to being on guard against competition, we should also pay attention to our environment. Changes beyond our control can affect our standing. For instance, people who make their fortune from the stock market need to be aware of not just the companies they invest in but the social and political environment at large since those affect the way the market moves. While they may not be able to change those factors, being aware of it, they can react in a timely manner to reduce impact.

Furthermore, as important as it is to remain vigilant against external factors, it is just as crucial to remain guarded against our own vices. Not all dangers or threats are external. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. Aside from arrogance, there are many other vices that can lead us in a downward spiral away from the things we’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Hopelessness is one such vice. Hardship and setbacks can be so frustrating that we may be tempted to give up at times. Do not give in to such negativity and let it blind us from seeing how far we’ve already come. Remain faithful and confident in in our ability to achieve our goals.

At the same time, however, we need to be careful not let our caution go overboard into paranoia and our determination go unchecked until it becomes blind faith. Also, while we must be on a lookout for people who may harm us, we shouldn’t make it a point to hold onto past offenses. We should be careful at all times but we shouldn’t be so worried that we can’t enjoy ourselves.


Hexagram 44 – Copulating

There are two ways to view the image of this hexagram. The first is to see it as wind under the commands of heaven, which is far reaching and natural. The second is to see it as one yin element creeping up towards the yang elements, or dark forces infiltrating the light. This describes the first encounter of the two primary forces. While it is natural, it can also be dangerous.

The strong masculine force being introduced to a feminine force is likened to sexual desire or temptation. It is right not in an ethical sense but a natural one. We must understand that the act of copulating is the act of creation, which is the greatest source of change and this hexagram shows us how good leaders should address such changes – by acknowledging that no organization can remain stable. Even if you can reach perfection, you cannot maintain it indefinitely. Sooner or later, you will come across temptation. Eventually, there will come one person who will be disorderly and inferior. When leaders understand that this is inevitable, they can appropriately deal with it when such situations arise.

Six on line 1:

Temptations and curiosities are not bad things if we can properly exercise self-control. It is not the item of curiosity in of itself that is most dangerous, but our reaction towards it. If we behave like hungry wild animals, then danger will surely follow.

Nine on line 2:

At the first sign of vice or bad influence, the best approach is to quarantine the source and not allow it to contaminate others. Separate ourselves from small people and work on eliminating the errors in ourselves so that we do not become small and inferior.

Nine on line 3:

Here, the situation of negative influence has progressed to a point of difficulty. It has already affected us. Fortunately, we have not yet veered off the correct path. Don’t let a mistake become a failure by refusing to correct it and passively giving into vices.

Nine on line 4:

The situation goes from bad to worse. We have failed to quarantine the bad influence described in line 2. When we lose control of ourselves by giving into temptation or associate with the lowly, negative consequences are sure to follow.

Nine on line 5:

The correct behaviour when encountering inferior people isn’t to display one’s own talents or behave like a disciplinarian. Rather, sometimes the best course of action may be to conceal one’s attribute and allow events to take their natural course. The more attention we draw to ourselves, the more unnecessary obstacles we create. Another words, act humbly. Accomplishing this is a sign of true self-control.

Nine on line 6:

To scorn and reproach others is not an ideal way to correct errors. Yet, it is better to be honest and unpopular than to comply with the selfish and the petty.


On Guard

The 9 of Wands shows a man who has already won the hard fight and the hexagram of Copulating contains five yang lines in succession, which is almost the pure and original state of heaven. Yet, instead of congratulating ourselves for how far we’ve come, we must remain on guard against things and people who can harm us.

Wealth and virtue takes a long time to accumulate. There is no shortcut to true success. Yet, the same cannot be said for its opposite. Degeneration can occur at any time, caused by the most seemingly benign and insignificant things. Great architectural structures fall when lowly insects that we can crush with the wave of a hand gnaw through its foundation. In the same way, great people can be destroyed by small people and behaviours.