The Eight Trigrams Fundamentals

In the Book of Changes (易经,, Yi Jing), it says “是故,易有太极,是生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦,八卦定吉凶”; Tai Ji (太极) gives rise to Liang Yi (两仪), Liang Yi give rises to Si Xiang (四象), Si Xiang gives rises to Eight Trigrams (八卦), and the understanding of auspiciousness through Eight Trigrams.

Tai Ji is the coming into being from Wu Ji (无极). Prior to Tai Ji, it is described as Emptiness, Formless, Limitless, the Primordial; the Wu Ji. From Wu Ji comes the existence, the coming of being. It is also the creation of perception. This is Wu Ji giving rise to Tai Ji (无极生太极).

From perception comes the recognition and differentiation of Yin and Yang, giving rise to Liang Yi, represented by one full line (⚊) known as Yang Yi (阳仪) and a broken line (⚋) known as Yin Yi (阴仪). Underlying the vast myriad manifestation of Nature is Yin Yang; Heaven and Earth; Day and Night; Up and Down etc. This is Tai Ji giving rise to Liang Yi (太极生两仪).

From the interaction and union of Yin Yang comes Si Xiang, giving rise to the four seasons, the four cardinal directions and the four phenomena of Greater Yang (⚌), Lesser Yin (⚍), Lesser Yang (⚎) and Greater Yin (⚏). From Yang Yi, the Greater Yang is the Yang among the Yang (阳中之阳); the Lesser Yin is the Yin among the Yang (阳中之阴). A layman example would be to think of males as Yang Yi and females as Yin Yi. From the males, one can further recognize and differentiate the more masculine (Greater Yang) and the more feminine males (Lesser Yin). From Yin Yi, the Lesser Yang is the Yang among the Yin (阴中之阳); the Greater Yin is the Yin among the Yin (阴中之阴). This is Liang Yi giving rise to Si Xiang (两仪生四象).

Continuing the interaction and union of Yin Yang comes the Eight Trigrams, giving rise to the eight directions and vast myriad phenomena of Nature. Greater Yang gives rise to Qian Trigram (乾卦 ☰) and Dui Trigram (兑卦 ☱). Lesser Yin gives rise to Li Trigram (离卦 ☲) and Zhen Trigram (震卦 ☳). Lesser Yang gives rise to Xun Trigram (巽卦 ☴) and Kan Trigram (坎卦 ☵). Greater Yin gives rise to Gen Trigram (艮卦 ☶) and Kun Trigram (坤卦 ☷). This is Si Xiang giving rise to Eight Trigrams (四象生八卦).

For the Eight Trigrams, we are to be aware of the following principles.

(1) ? Three give rise to Myriad of Things in Nature
1 as the beginning of Yang, 2 as the beginning of Yin, hence the union of Yin and Yang thereafter give rise to myriad of things in Nature. Thus, numbers begin from 1 and with 3 as the application, such as the 3 Yao that make up each Trigram. Just as Lao Zi (老子) said ?Dao give rise to One, One give rise to Two, Two give rise to Three and Three give rise to myriad of things in Nature?.

(2) ? Lesser as the Primary; Middle as the Harmonious
Each Trigram is made up of 3 Yao. For those Trigrams where the Yin Yang of all 3 Yao is similar; the Primary Yao for that Trigram is the middle Yao. For the rest, the lesser of either the Yin or Yang Yao is the Primary Yao. Hence, for Zhen Trigram (☳), the Primary Yao is the bottom Yang Yao; for Kan Trigram (☵), the Primary Yao is the middle Yang Yao; for Gen Trigram (☶), the Primary Yao is the top Yang Yao; for Qian Trigram (☰), the Primary Yao is the middle Yang Yao; for Xun Trigram (☴), the Primary Yao is the bottom Yin Yao; for Li Trigram (☲), the Primary Yao is the middle Yin Yao; for Dui Trigram (☱), the Primary Yao is the top Yin Yao; for Kun Trigram (☷), the Primary Yao is the middle Yin Yao.

(3) ? Correspondence and Distinct Aspect of the Eight Trigrams
Recalling the correspondence aspect of Yin Yang, those Trigrams where the Primary Yao are Yang belongs to the group of Yang Trigrams whereas those where the primary Yao are Yin belongs to the group of Yin Trigrams. Hence, Zhen, Kan, Gen and Qian Trigrams (震 坎 艮 乾) are all Yang Trigrams (四阳卦); Xun, Li, Dui and Kun Trigrams (巽 离 兑 坤) are all Yin Trigrams (四阴卦). One group comprising of all Yin Trigrams and the other of all Yang Trigrams, being distinct but sharing common innate characteristics among the other three Trigrams.

(4) ? Imagery or Phenomena of the Eight Trigrams
The imagery or phenomena of Eight Trigrams can be considered as the interpretation and association of the myriad phenomena in Nature. It plays an important role in the predictive determination of the events happening. Below are the common associations and the Five Elements related to each of the Eight Trigrams.

Eight Trigrams Association:

  • Qian Trigram – Heaven; Father; Leader; Officials; Head; Bones; Lungs, Large Intestine; Element Metal
  • Zhen Trigram – Thunder; Eldest Son; Movement; Successor; Legs; Liver; Element Wood
  • Kan Trigram – Water; Middle Son; Wisdom; Urinary; Ears; Blood; Kidneys; Element Water
  • Gen Trigram – Mountain; Youngest Son; Religion; Hands; Nerves; Spine; Spleen; Element Earth
  • Xun Trigram – Wind; Eldest Daughter; Academic; Thighs; Gall; Element Wood
  • Li Trigram – Fire; Middle Daughter; Public; Service; Eyes; Heart; Small Intestine; Element Fire
  • Dui Trigram – Marsh; Lake; Youngest Daughter; Beauty; Mouth; Lungs; Element Metal
  • Kun Trigram – Earth; Mother; Fertility; Receptive; Stomach; Flesh; Element Earth