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(8 pages total)

Page 8 - The Eight Trigrams of the I-Ching (Yijing)

The seed that was planted in the Spring reaches maturity under the Summer sun. Once the consciousness has been nourished in the creative faculties of light and heat under the Li trigram, it moves into the receptive and productive K'un trigram (Earth--the receptive). In the K'un trigram the consciousness, which matured in an outward sense under the trigram Li, is assimilated, digested, and integrated. The K'un trigram represents openness to new knowledge and the ever changing condition of the world. It is the extreme yin and thus totally receptive. Later Heaven

That which is explored under the Li is absorbed into the being under the K'un trigram. This is the beginning of the transition from superficial to deep; from a physical consciousness to a spiritual consciousness; from a mental idea to intuitive knowledge.

The knowledge assimilated under the K'un trigram moves inward under the Tui trigram (Lake--the joyous). The Lake trigram is representative of Autumn, the 18th hour, and the West. It is a time of harvest and celebration and moves towards quiet and contemplation. That which is received under the K'un trigram is accepted internally under the energy of Tui. It is an internal harvesting of new knowledge.

Once movement turns inward under the Tui trigram, it is touched by the spirit under the Ch'ien trigram (Heaven--the creative). This trigram represents the yang aspects of heaven, health, and strength. Deep contemplation and movement towards a greater connection manifests under this trigram. Creative inner forces begin to stir. The seed that sprouted in the Spring, was nourished and reached maturation in the Summer, and harvested in the fall has been consumed and is digesting under the Ch'ien trigram. The creative nature of this trigram comes forth when the outer idea moves inward and inner growth begins.

The creative inner forces dive deep into the essence of the being under the K'an trigram (Water--the abysmal). The K'an trigram is representative of Winter, the midnight hour, and the North. There is deep contemplation, meditation, and inward movement. The abysmal represents spiritual depth and inner stillness. From the depths of the water arises the steadfastness of inwardness represented under the Ken trigram (Mountain--the resting). In the mountain there is completeness in the sign of keeping still. The Shuo Kua (Discussion of Signs) says "He exerts himself in the sign of K'an, the abysmal. He completes himself in the sign of Ken."5

Development has come full circle. The stillness and meditative poise of the mountain is a preparation for new life. For as the mountain sits in stillness, clouds begin to form above and stimulating energies are released once again under the Thunder (the arousing) trigram.

Just as there are daily cycles, yearly cycles, and even 60 year cycles in nature, you can become aware of a number of simultaneous cycles occurring in the context of your own life and inner development. Analogies relating cycles of nature to human development are not unique to the Chinese or the I-Ching. These correspondences can be found in the writings of many traditions and cultures from the beginning of history.

Study of the trigrams of the I-Ching will provide a symbology that can help trigger intuitive understanding of life events. As you work with the trigrams and experience the movement and symbology associated with each, you will notice that the trigrams will have different meaning according to the place, time, situation, or context which the symbol is experienced. Thus the trigrams are not fixed concepts. They will appear differently at different levels of thought, on different levels of awareness, and at different times of the day, week, month, and year.

Many Chinese, as well as western scholars, have spent a lifetime exploring the depths of the I-Ching. It is said that Confucius died wishing he had fifty more years to devote to the study of this book. If you are inclined to embark upon a serious study of the I-Ching, I recommend that you begin by spending time and effort digesting the underlying structure of the I-Ching by studying the Early Heaven and Later Heaven arrangements of the trigrams. Your time will be well spent.

1 John Blofeld, I-Ching: The Book of Change, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1965, pg. 38.
2 Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, Volume II, Commercial Press, Shanghai, 1934, republished Princeton University Press, 1973, pg 453.
3 Ibid, pg 454
4 Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Inner Structure of the I-Ching, Wheelwright Press, San Francisco, 1981, pg. 17.
5 Ibid, pg 34

1. Bell, E.T., Men of Mathematics, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1937.
2. Blofeld, John I Ching: The Book of Change, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1965.
3. Brennan, Herbie, The Synchronistic Barometer, Analog Science Fiction/ Science Fact, August 1973
4. Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, Volume II, Commercial Press, Shanghai, China, 1934, republished Princeton University Press, 1973.
5. Govinda, Lama Anagarika, The Inner Structure of the I-Ching, Wheelwright Press, San Francisco, 1981
6. Larre, Claude, Survey of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Institut Ricci, Paris, 1986.
7. Wong, K. Chimin and Wu Lien-Teh, History of Chinese Medicine, National Quarantine Service, Shanghai, China, 1936.

Dan Miller was the Editor of the Pa Kua Chang Newsletter, a bimonthly newsletter published in the 1990s on the topic of Baguazhang.

Article reprinted from Winter 1991 issue of "Qi Journal"

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