As I think of this first hexagram, what comes to mind is the beautiful chapter on Heaven from The Living I Ching:
“Nothing we have accomplished in our civilization alters the seasons. Nothing changes the solstices and equinoxes. Nothing we have made can eliminate the need to conform to day and night, or the need to make plans with the weather and time of year in mind.”
(Deng Ming-Dao, P. 31, The Living I Ching)
This first hexagram is composed of six yang lines. (A yang line is solid and a yin line is split in two.) Solid. Not only is this the strong and powerful start to a timeless series of hexagrams, but it is the basis for everything we have ever known or ever will know.
Each hexagram has an inner hexagram. The inner hexagram for Heaven is Heaven as well. Heaven creates Heaven… and time goes on and on. It reminds me of a spiral flowing inward, towards our origin. It can also flow outwards, towards our destiny. Through Heaven, time has been created. As Heaven, time does not exist.
Heaven teaches us that we are timeless beings. We come from Heaven and we are Heaven. Some religions teach us that Heaven is outside of us, but I have found this to not ring true for me. I think that this is a misunderstanding. If you look at it from the context of us being human beings, then yes, Heaven is beyond our human understanding. But we are part of Heaven, so it really depends on how you define yourself.
There are six lines in a hexagram – any individual line may be highlighted in a reading, depending on how the coins land or depending on the yarrow sticks that have been drawn. All is up to fate. Each series of six lines follows a progression. In the case of this first hexagram, the progression is one’s movement through the claiming of power. In the first line, the dragon is hidden. The dragon represents your potential creative force. As you go up the lines, the dragon comes out of hiding and gains strength and confidence. In the last line, the dragon has gotten over confident and finds regret.
The I Ching does not separate out the mystical side of life and dismiss it as irrelevant – or worse, delusional as we find in some modern circles of thought. The I Ching is well respected the world over as a means for receiving valuable information outside of your own limited “thinking” mind. People have been referencing these chapters for thousands of years to guide them in making decisions.
This first hexagram makes it clear that we must learn to trust in a higher power.
It urges us to step into our power when we are naturally led to do so. Self development is a constant state of refinement of our being. If you find a cherished gem that is rough on its edges, you can polish it and work with it to make it shine. You can do the same with your inner being. To me, this is the value of our human existence.
At times, you may find that you have gone too far. Perhaps you have been meditating for some time and studying your spiritual practices, and you are starting to find that everyone around you has a long ways to go to improve themselves. Heaven teaches us that we can extend too far through our own arrogance and this can cause our downfall. Have you ever come across someone who you just want to trip up because they are annoyingly perfect and they seem to lord it over others? This is the sixth line of the Heaven hexagram, guiding you to help straighten them out. (So it’s not your fault, really!) We are all connected and you are just responding to an ancient routine that says, “Knock things down if they get too high.” We are all evolving in our own ways. It is important to remember that in our development.
In this first chapter, there were four phrases that were repeated in each translation. While the words varied (I have listed them below), the ideas behind them are similar. By generating these virtuous traits, we evolve spiritually:
maker, pervasive, bountiful & pure, initiative, progressiveness, supportiveness and persistence, sublime success, furthering through perseverance, originating, penetrating, advantageous, correct & firm, humble, patient, accepting & responsive.