Ba Gua Philosophy

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The eight ba gua trigrams form a more complex framework of yin and yang interaction. The eight trigrams are the terminus of a developmental progression beginning from wuji. The ba gua contains within it wuji, taiji and si xiang.

Following the illustration, line 1 contains one yang and one yin line. The relative theory of yin and yang postulates there is always yin within yang, and yang within yin. Now read up to line 2 and see that each yin and yang of line 1 now becomes yin and yang. Then read up to line 3 you see that each yin and yang of line 2 becomes yin and yang again. When you combine lines 1 and 2 you have the four movements, si xiang; and combining lines 1, 2 and 3 you have the eight trigrams, ba gua. The entire ba gua sequence can be seen in figure 1A. Ancient scholars used examples in nature as metaphors to help explain the meaning of each trigram.


Each trigram represents a specific energetic structure, physical structure and principle. They are viewed as fundamental constructs or building blocks. The ba gua is a structure and model by which information can be organized.

Each trigram, is composed of a series of three lines and all eight trigrams together express all possible combinations of yin and yang. The 3 solid lines of the heaven trigram is maximum yang representing strength, firmness and creativity. The 3 sets of broken lines of the earth trigram is maximum yin representing flexibility, yielding and receptivity.

The other six trigrams are different combinations of the heaven and earth trigrams, representing the blending of strength and flexibility; of firmness and yielding; and of creativity and receptivity.

A general historical definition of all eight trigrams is:
Heaven - strength
Earth - flexibility
Water - danger
Fire - illumination
Thunder - action
Lake - joy
Mountain - stillness
Wind - moving

Combining 2 trigrams one on top of the other creates a hexagram. There are 64 possible hexagrams, each one denoting a specific pattern. The interpretation of the 64 hexagrams is the I Ching, or Book of Changes. The premis of the I Ching is that change is a universal constant. The I Ching then is a guide to understanding patterns of change.