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Yuan heng li zhen

Hexagram 1 says yuan heng li zhen – from the source, creating success, constancy bears fruit.

Hexagram 2 says yuan heng li pinma zhi zhen – from the source, creating success, a mare’s constancy bears fruit

The remaining hexagrams can be seen as ‘children’ of these two – 62 ways of blending their natures – and most of them also contain fragments and variations of the yuan heng li zhen formula. However, there are another five hexagrams that contain it just as in Hexagram 1, in full and without qualification: hexagrams 3, 17, 19, 25 and 49 – Sprouting, Following, Nearing, Without Entanglement, Radical Change. What’s special about these hexagrams?

Yuan heng li zhen is a potent formula. Each time, it gives the sense of a creative drive through to realisation: something that ‘wants to happen’. But since we’re no longer in the pure yang of hexagram 1, but out in the mixed, conditioned world, each hexagram adds warnings or reassurances to qualify the creative formula.

Hexagram 3 –

‘Sprouting.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Don’t use this to have a direction to go,
Fruitful to establish feudal lords.’

Yes, it wants to grow – now give it the means to reach out and expand and put down roots.

‘Following.
Creating success from the source; constancy bears fruit.
No mistake.’

Yes, it follows; life flows as it should (even if it doesn’t keep to your schedule).

‘Nearing.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Arrival at the eighth month means a pitfall.’

Yes, it becomes fully present and realised. This is a process.

‘Without entanglement.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
One who is not upright commits blunders,
And it is fruitless to have a direction to go.’

Yes, it moves as it should. What do you think you’re doing?

‘Radical change.
On your own day, there is truth and confidence.
Creating success from the source, constancy bears fruit.
Regrets vanish.’

Yes, it changes. This is your change, and it’s real.

If there’s a unifying theme, it seems to be respect creative power in motion – which is not so far away from the dragons of Hexagram 1.

…which is perhaps not so surprising. Let’s start at Hexagram 17, Following, made of the trigrams zhen, thunder, inside and dui, lake, outside –


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The Shuogua, the Wing that describes the trigrams, says that, ‘Zhen is thunder and dragons.’ So the trigrams of Hexagram 17 look a lot like the dragon that sleeps in the lake during winter.

The Image authors might have had this in mind, too:

‘At the centre of the lake is thunder. Following.
A noble one at nightfall
Goes inside for renewal and rest.’

(If resting in the season for rest is good enough for dragons…)

The other yuan heng li zhen hexagrams are 3, 19, 25 and 49…

  • 17.4 changes to 3
  • 17.6 changes to 25
  • 17.3 changes to 49 (and the thunder in the lake becomes li, light – is that an eye opening under the water?)

That leaves 19, which is the da bagua, ‘big trigram’ hexagram, made by doubling each line of zhen:

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Perhaps yuan heng li zhen is a kind of warning sign: caution: dragon at work?
dragon

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