The Chinese New Year of the year 2021 was Feb 12 and it was the time every Chinese people brings very traditional good wishes to all their friends using one Chinese idiom: “三阳开泰”, which pronounces as:“San Yang Kai Tai”.
Every year shortly after the Spring Festival, a spring thunder awakens everything, the earth recovers, and everything starts a new cycle of its peace and vitality.
Ever since the origin of Eastern culture, people have begun to use pictorial symbols to express the peace and vitality of each spring. And the below image is what they used for this peaceful meaning. There is a name of this six-lined image: a hexagram. Each line they call it a Yao. A Six-Yao Hexagram consists of two Three-Yao trigrams one at the bottom and one on the top.
There are sixty-four Hexagrams used by ancestors to represent sixty-four situations in all aspects of the universe and the human world. And the Tai Hexagram is the number eleventh.
Tai represents the law of movement of all things in the universe when life is in a smooth and peaceful state. It is an introductory turn of learning how the interactions between Qian-heaven and Kun-earth connect to the changes in the human world and affairs.
What interactions between Qian-heaven and Kun-earth does this Hexagram tell us? How should we interpret a Six-Yao Hexagram?
For each of the Six-Yao Hexagrams, any single Yao represents a stage of a change in a sequence of its form from the inner to the outer, from the bottom to the top, from an early stage or a later stage, from younger to older, from the base to the top… So, when we read the six Yao in a Hexagram, we read it from the bottom Yao to the top Yao. Ancestors were using this to tell us that everything’s change starts from its inside and develops to its external. So, among the two Three-Yao Trigrams in a Six-Yao Hexagram, the one at the bottom stands for internal changes, internal environment, internal conditions, inside a company, in a family, in a society… And the one on the top stands for external changes, external environment, external conditions, outside of a company, outside of a family, or outside of the society…
Combining the concept of human living in the middle of heaven and earth, a Six-Yao Hexagram can be interpreted as shown above.
A Six-Yao Tai Hexagram is formed up by one Three-Yao Qian, the universe, at the bottom and one Three-Yao Kun, the earth, at the top. Observing the whole image of Tai, our most direct and intuitive feeling is that the sky Qian is below the earth Kun. But the sky is above the earth in our real world. Why does this “upside-down” imaged Hexagram that is inverted from the universe phenomenon reflect the smooth and peaceful state of things in the world?
Diving into in-depth research, the monistic Qi theory helps our study of this universal image. Let’s close our eyes and draw the below picture in our head intuitively: first let’s draw a force of active, strong, upward, radiating, warm Yang energy at the bottom, and this Yang energy goes upward constantly. And then, we draw a force of soft, inward, convergent, cold Yin energy staying at the top and moving downward naturally, following its innate character.
What would happen in our picture now? The Yin energy and the Yang energy will intersect. Just like the intersection of positive and negative circuits, just like the intersection of cold air and hot air. The interaction and friction of these Yin and Yang energies will give birth to endless possibilities of a new form of life with energy. This interaction can awaken the earth’s life system.
Let’s look at our picture, and imagine when the Yang energy is above the Yin energy, what will happen? It’s obvious that when they naturally move, they will be moving in opposite directions, they will never intersect to make anything happen, nor will there be any energy collision, as if there is no voltage and current in a circuit. It is very obvious for us to understand, with our very basic modern scientific knowledge.
Now, we get some new energy generated from the Yin and Yang intersection. How will it act in making things work smoothly and peacefully?
Here we need a further supplement of the basic knowledge of Hexagrams. When we use it to analyze social phenomena, we enumerate the symbolic meaning of its various social attributes to its internal Yao and external Yao as shown in figure 17 for Tai.
In ancient times, the most important function of the Sixty-Four Hexagrams was to play as the guidelines of principles for the kings to govern society. In today’s words, they can become the codes that reveal the human physical and mental health, society matters, even philosophical and scientific relationship between the political superstructure and economic foundation of society. But the Sixty-Four Hexagrams came from the phenomena of the sky, the earth, the sun, and the moon, so their most basic application is to expose the unchanging laws of the occurrence and growth of all things in the universe.
The relationship between ancestors and animals was by no means as simple as the relationship between modern humans and animals, which is most probably established through books, media, visits to zoos, pets or animal farms, etc. Ancient people and animals had more equal status in nature. To some degree, ancestors had a more perceptual understanding of animal life and characteristics. They drove deeper analysis of Hexagram images by metaphor at the life characteristics of gregarious animals, such as horses, cows, sheep and etc.
For example, when the herd of horses rests in the evening, it is very natural that the mares will stay in the center of the herd, and the stallions will patrol the periphery to protect the mares. In a herd of thousands of horses, if a leader stands out, it must be a stallion. Wherever this stallion goes, all other horses will follow and absolutely support the leader, no matter stallions or mares. The same is true for cattle. The same is true for other animal colonies. Is there a lesson in the animals’ world to teach them to act like this? We do not know. But we can take this as a practical code, or law, in the same kind of animals’ world that they all follow, naturally. And by acting according to it, the herd of the horses is safer and stronger.
When human society transitioned from a matrilineal society to a patriarchal society, the production relations centered on manual labor gave birth to, nurtured, and promoted the development of family relations with the father as the protagonist of the family. For thousands of years, the development of this family relationship has slowly solidified into a chain of family relationship DNA, which has profoundly affected the harmonious development of society and family invisibly but all over time.
When a family’s Yang energy rise up to meet the family’s Yin energy’s miniaturization downward, it draws a peaceful image of smooth communication between husband and wife, as enforces strong energy support and the lasting soft nurturing between the husband and wife, results in new generations being raised up by a harmonized, happy, and healthy couple… Nothing can be more peaceful than this within a family.
Here we can further expand the Qian and Kun relationship from within a family’s perspective to an organization, a society, or a country…
There is a legend of King Dayu’s flood control more than 4,000 years ago. In the barbaric era, when human productivity was extremely low, Dayu united all disparate tribes and produced a strong centripetal force and cohesion. It took them eight years to solve the monstrous flood and save the world. It was a miracle that it only took eight years for Dayu to control the water in the wild years to achieve great success. The most fundamental reason was that Dayu was a king who put the interests of his people above everything else, and the centripetal force and cohesion he gained was his people’s full support and cooperation for this great cause.
This leads to something a little off-topic here. Dayu’s water management was a sign of the establishment of China’s early state power. It can be seen that the establishment of China’s most primitive state power had nothing to do with land ownership, but was related to preventing natural disasters, protecting people’s lives, creating collective water conservancy, and channeling and promoting agricultural development.
Today, the vast majority of Chinese people do not necessarily understand this Tai Hexagram, but they use this Tai word frequently as they were taught over generations, words, and deeds. At every Chinese New Year, we see and hear and wish everywhere using idioms: “三阳开泰”, “国泰民安”,… Translate the “三阳开泰” into English character by character, it is three, Yang, starts, Tai. Those are the descriptive words of this Tai Hexagram image – three Yang Yao start the Tai Hexagram. And for “国泰民安”, character by character, it is country, Tai, people, safe and healthy. These words and idioms all originated from “Yi Jing”.
You may ask: what if things are not in a smooth situation? Like what happened in the year 2019 and 2020？What if the Qian stands on top of the Kun? What does that mean? How to solve it? And for the Tai, what are the six stages of a peaceful and smooth situation’s development each of the Yao represents? Are they all the same peaceful, or not? The answers are in the book linked below.