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#20 觀 Guan (Observe)

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Guan means to observe. It connotes contemplation, consideration, and examination, modes of thought necessary to make an important decision.

What is this about?

After King Wu founded the Zhou dynasty, his brother, the Duke of Zhou, carefully observed Wu’s actions before deciding how best to assist him.


20.0 盥,而不薦有孚顒若

The diviner washed his hands but did not hesitate to present his offering. Instead, he gave thoughtful consideration that his following action was immaculate. During the uprising, the Duke of Zhou steadfastly supported and assisted his brother. After King Wu established the new dynasty, it seemed natural that the Duke of Zhou should continue to serve the new king. Yet, the Duke hesitated and carefully considered what position accorded with his talent, ambition, and drive for perfection. Apply for the post best suited to your abilities, wants, and needs. Refrain from making hasty decisions that you may later regret. Keenly observe your associates/prospects before establishing a relationship.

20.1 初六童觀。小人无咎。君子吝

Yin on Line 1: Observe the job position with the innocence of a child, even if it is a low-ranking one. For a critical role, observe with a keen eye. When choosing a career or considering a new job, it is not wise to consider perks and benefits only. It would be best to evaluate whether the position matches your talents, among other factors. Does it meet your long-term goals? Will it be satisfying? Will it motivate and nourish your self-esteem? Likewise, choose a partner or significant other with the same keen eye.

20.2 六二闚觀。利女貞

Yin on Line 2: Peeping only benefits the woman. In the old days, women were subservient to men. Marriages were arranged. When a suitor came to propose, his prospective bride would peep through the door to look at his appearance, speech, and behaviour. If he met with her approval, she would agree to marry him. You will play a submissive role if you marry someone because of their impressive family background. Similarly, joining an eminent organisation because of its prestige shows a want for ambition. They who "peeps” becomes conscious of a situation, act upon that knowledge and will be benefited.

20.3 六三觀我生,進退

Yin on Line 3: Review my qualifications before making an offer. The Duke of Zhou was cautious about accepting a position offered by his brother, King Wu. Eventually, the Duke of Zhou took a post as the Minister of Rites. Know your ability and experience before accepting a job offer.

20.4 六四觀國之光。利用賓于王

Yin on Line 4: Observe the beauty of the country. Then, decide if it is promising to join the government. If the "beauty" (or spirit) of the people is corrupt, this strongly indicates the government is corrupt, too. Before accepting a post, do homework about your prospective employer and company. If they have a terrible reputation, pass up this opportunity.

20.5 九五觀我生。君子无咎

Yang on Line 5: Pay attention to how I lead my life. If the government is fair, so are the people. Set a good example for your subordinates/ children. Honesty, integrity, and fairness are vital in developing a good work ethic, healthy self-esteem, and a positive attitude among your staff/children.

20.6 上九觀其生,君子无咎

Yang on Line 6: Be watchful of how people lead their lives. The government will know what to do. Understand your client and competition, and you will prosper. Understand your mate/ partner, and your marriage/ business relationship will be abundant and satisfying.

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