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(8 pages total)

Page 3 - The Eight Trigrams of the I-Ching (Yijing)


The ancient Chinese people were very practical and straight-forward. In many instances, the foundation of their belief system was based on what was occurring naturally around them. They noted that nature was in constant change and that there were noticeable patterns, rhythms and cycles inherent in this change. They observed daily cycles, monthly cycles, and yearly cycles and they sought to define them to better understand patterns of nature and conditions of human life.

The two extreme ends of the observed cyclic continuum they called yin and yang. The idea of yin and yang became a kernel that sprouted more complex patterns. Everything under the sun was said to originate from yin and yang.

In the West, many individuals tend to incorrectly think of yin and yang as strictly defined "opposites." All relationships based on yin and yang are relative and the mutual interaction of both aspects must be considered, therefore, nothing can be defined as strictly yin or strictly yang. Additionally, yin and yang are never to be considered in a permanent state. There is always dynamic movement. Wu Ji Diagram

This dynamic movement and the relative nature of yin and yang led to yin and yang combinations, the first of which is called Szu-Hsaing. Yin and yang are symbolically represented by the Liang-I (two symbols). The Yang-I is represented by a continuous straight line and the Yin-I is represented by a broken line. The Szu-Hsiang (four figures) are formed by combining the Yin-I and the Yang-I as shown in the illustration below.

The Szu-Hsaing represent the maximum number sets that can be formed by combining two differing elements in sets of two. The Szu-Hsaing are given names of T'ai Yang (Greater Yang), Shao Yin (Lesser Yin), Shao Yang (Lesser Yang), and T'ai Yin (Greater Yin). By similarly combining the Szu-Hsiang, we can obtain the Pa Kua (Eight Trigrams).

In Appendix III of the I-Ching there is a famous passage: "In the Changes there is the Supreme Ultimate (T'ai Chi), which produced the Two Forms (yin and yang). These Two Forms produced the four emblems (Szu-Hsiang), and these four emblems produced the eight trigrams (Pa Kua). The eight trigrams serve to determine good and bad fortune (for human affairs), and from this good and bad fortune spring the great activities (of human life)."


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