I Ching: Hexagram 1 – Heaven


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. 
In many of the translations I read, “The Creative” was the title given to this hexagram. The timelessness of Heaven is available to us when we create something. If I create a business that helps people to improve their lives, my creation lives beyond the walls of my body and beyond the span of my lifetime. The impact that my daily activities have on the people around me and the choices others make in their own lives from knowing me are endless. I will never know my effect. There is a great movie called Pay It Forward. This movie highlights how one little thing that we do for someone as a kind gesture can inspire a wave of good samaritans. It’s the butterfly effect. Have you ever been in line at a drive through and your purchase was paid for by the person in front of you? Is there any way to measure the impact of that event? This is an example of the outward spiral I mentioned earlier.
An example of the inward spiral is to look at the impact of the daily little things that you do for your own development. If you practice silence one day, it may seem insignificant but it may inspire another action that is also helpful. Perhaps your day of silence affected the food choices that you made the next day. Then maybe these new food choices made you feel better so you cleaned out the garage. With the garage clean, you decided to paint the living room. And so on. While these are not the typical example of spiritual practices, all of these activities improve our lives in small ways. The hexagram of Heaven suggests that we persist in our development. With this constant state of refinement, we are moving ourselves forward. When we move ourselves forward, we move humanity forward, and that is a valuable goal.


  1. Lovely! Heaven within us…”We are star stuff” as Carl Sagan said 😉
    Ronda recently posted…Aromatherapy and Acne Q&AMy Profile

  2. You have reminded me of something I’d forgotten. When I was 12 we were vacationing in Hawaii over Christmas. I was paying for a present for my mom and was short $2.00. Just as I was about to step away from the counter the woman behind me in line plopped $2.00 down on the counter. I was so surprised and relieved and grateful. Fast forward several decades. I was in San Francisco at an icecream shop. The couple in front were short a few dollars and were frantically patting their pockets for change while the icecream began to drip down from their cones. I paid their bill. While they were grateful my son was ecstatic. “I’m going to do that too when I’m older Mom. So kind.” You’re right – you never now the impact of the daily little things.
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…In A Blink of an EyeMy Profile

    • What a great story, Kelly! 🙂 It’s fun when you start looking a little deeper at things and see just how amazing the whole web is.

  3. Wow. I can’t tell you how many times I have read just in the past month that we are meant to create. We are the human physical form of the divine and in creating, we manifest our lives. I love what you say about heaven too. I’m with you that we are part of it always.
    Naomi recently posted…Photo-heart connection: ever-changing natureMy Profile

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  5. So excited to see your take on this Amy. This is going to be such an interesting journey as you unfold the I Ching for us!

    The piece that strikes me most about this hexagram is that the inner hexagram is the same – it includes everything and there is nothing that is not included. So when we create we are pulling out of a limitless pool for the joy of what we want to express, and yet every other expression is equal and valid and whole as well. There’s something so utterly comforting and inviting about that to me. And it feels like such a perfect place to begin the journey of the I Ching. In wholeness.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…International Women’s Day 2014My Profile

    • I loved that the inner hexagram matched the outer one too. I loved what you said about the limitless pool for joy. That is a great way of thinking about it. Joy representing all that we create out of a space of love.

      Today is my jaunt through hexagram #2. I am exploring it today and then will probably write a post about it after a few days of letting it stew around in my mind a bit. Last night we went to see David Stringer in concert. He was talking about all of us as one fabric of being and the room pulsed with his expressions of love for Gaia through our chanting, singing and dancing. It was pretty awesome and a great punctuation for starting to study #2 – Earth.

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