Following on from this article about the sequence of trigrams through 10 and 11, here’s another place where looking at the trigrams casts light on the story behind the sequence: from Hexagram 12 to 13.
Hexagram 12 is Obstruction and negation: communication is completely blocked; everything has ground to a halt; no great things are possible. And the core idea – one of them, anyway – is those ‘non-people‘. I identify you with your label, you identify me with mine, and there’s no spark, no glimmer of communication between us.
The trigrams that represent this are earth below, heaven above. Which looks on the face of it, of course, like exactly how things are ‘meant’ to be – the natural order observed, the male on top… 😉 But as the Daxiang says:
‘Heaven and earth do not interact. Obstruction.’
The earth naturally settles downward; heaven naturally drives upward and outward. Small use having it all in order if nothing connects, and so nothing can be created. I think it’s Sarah Dening who chose a quotation from Waiting for Godot to illustrate this one:
‘Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!’
But ‘things cannot end in obstruction, and so People in Harmony follows.’ Hexagram 13 doesn’t so much presuppose the existence of peace and goodwill as it describes how to create it, even among very different people. It means work to overcome the competitive, ‘us versus them’ mindset of Hexagram 12, so that the people can finally get together to achieve something worthwhile. Creating Harmony among People means grasping the idea of a bigger shared interest and a bigger common identity.
Looking at the trigrams: heaven is still above, creating, unchanging – but no longer out of reach. Instead of earth sinking away below, the inner trigram is changed to li, fire, like the people’s camp fire blazing up to answer the stars. The Daxiang says,
‘Heaven joins with fire. People in Harmony.’
Perhaps the different clans around the fire look to find their ancestors represented in the constellations?
It’s part of Chinese lore that humanity connects heaven and earth. Fire is what humans make when they come together; it’s also the light of awareness, and people’s ability both to recognise differences and to hold together. So Hexagram 13 is where people restore their connection with ultimate reality, or creative power, as well as with one another.