The Interconnection Of Everything Chinese Metaphysics: The Origins Of The 8 Trigrams & 64 Hexagrams

Posted On Last updated Dec 7, 2020 | Published on Dec 4, 2020

If one believes in Chinese metaphysics and astrology, it’s natural to assume that one has to believe in the interconnection of all things as well. They are not mutually exclusive. This belief that everything is interconnected might sound like a new age religion, but it’s far from that. Interconnectivity, in fact, at the heart of Chinese metaphysics. This belief is also at the core of Buddhism although I’m just going to explore this topic from a Chinese metaphysics lens.

The interconnectivity of everything is called「万物相干论」in Chinese metaphysics. You won’t often hear of the interconnectivity of phenomena much in BaZi or Zi Wei Dou Shu because these are already implied in these techniques. You will, though, hear of the saying 「万物相干论」quite a lot of Qi Men Dun Jia because Qi Men Dun Jia is one of the earliest techniques developed so the roots to the founding theory is a bit stronger. This core belief is what makes Chinese metaphysics and other forms of astrology possible.

I’ve spoken about this topic numerous times in different blog posts but have not dedicated a post to this. I figured I’ll touch on it again to re-iterate a few important points.

The Interconnectivity Of Everything And Its Origins

You can only appreciate the theory of everything being interconnected if your mind entertains abstract thinking and you’re open to the idea that there are certain laws governing the universe that science just can’t explain yet.

You will see the word ‘xiang’ (象) a lot in Chinese metaphysics, because 象,or the material form, is how we make sense of these laws of interconnectivity and how it manifests. You will see this being applied in all Chinese metaphysics techniques. Whenever we look at a chart, no matter what technique it is, it is also about trying to interpret what the 象 on earth will be like.

One fascinating aspect of Chinese metaphysics that most hobbyists can’t appreciate is seeing how all the different techniques point towards the same conclusion. I’ve said this many times – the techniques shouldn’t contradict each other. Each technique, be it BaZi, Zi Wei Dou Shu, or Qi Men Dun Jia, is the hard work of the sages and has its own basis. To see a contradiction means something has gone wrong somewhere and one of the techniques is inherently flawed which any practitioner specializing in these techniques will tell you is not true.

The interconnectivity of all phenomena can be hard to appreciate if you’re new to Chinese metaphysics or focused on just plainly one technique. It forces you to accept a very radical way of looking at the way the world functions that go against how we were brought up.

I am unable to explain why this interconnectivity exists, only that it does. You’ll have to believe in very ‘fuzzy’ theories like how reality first evolved from a primordial singularity into the reality we’re all experiencing. In Western science, we all know it as the Big Bang. In Chinese metaphysics, we call it 「易有太极,是生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦」。 It’s a mouthful, I know.

Have you ever wondered why it stops at 8 Trigrams (八卦) and not more? Why can’t we have 10 Trigrams, or 16? These are the questions that I used to ask myself when I tried to put myself in the shoes of our ancestors. My layman explanation is this: The world we live in and space-time is 3 dimensional, and reality came into existence when the duality of Yin and Yang formed. From there, in a 3D world, duality represented by Yin and Yang would be 23=8. This is what 「易有太极,是生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦」means. The three lines you see in a Trigram represents the unfolding process into a 3D reality.

I know the above sounds silly and it needs a while to sink in and appreciate. This pattern of 2x2x2=8 is everywhere. Two hemispheres, four seasons, and from the four seasons come the weather which we describe using the 8 Trigrams. You can see that once we reach the end of the 2x2x2 process, natural phenomena have already become infinitely complex. The weather is not something we can forecast so easily, what more human life? It might seem like a very binary way of looking at the world, and in some ways, it is. However, these very simple laws give birth to what I learned in university called “emergence” where things seem to take a life of its own even though the laws governing it are binary.

If you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of practitioners and the lens they use to view the world- it’s the above.

As for why there are 64 Hexagrams, it’s actually quite simple although this might not be the best way to put it: Remember what I said about how everything has a duality to it and that it is that law of Yin and Yang? That logic can be applied to the 8 Trigrams as well, so from the 8 Trigrams, exists the opposite, so a Hexagram is formed when two Trigrams stack on top of each other. This is why the 64 Hexagrams are arguably more than enough to describe everything in human society and how events unfold. There is no need for 128 Hexagrams because the Yin Yang duality is already accounted for.

It doesn’t stop there because even after the 64 Hexagrams are laid out, the laws of Yin Yang and reality unfolding still continue to apply within the 64 Hexagrams, so you could argue that they can be infinite renditions to this unfolding although there’s no need to apply infinite calculations and renditions as our minds will not be able to process that kind of information. Chinese metaphysics and its laws give us a structure in understanding the world and how events unfold.

Applying the laws above, a hexagram can evolve into what we call 互卦,错卦,and 综卦。 The above is the 15th Hexagram of ‘qian‘ (谦卦), but within this Hexagram also lies the 40th, 10th and 16th Hexagram. I won’t go into what these mean for now and will leave that for another blog post.

There’s a lot of interesting trivia around the Hexagrams: The Later Heaven Trigram (后天八卦) and 64 Hexagrams were developed by Zhou Wen Wang (周文王) when he was held captive for 7 years by King Zhou of Shang. I mentioned this a long time ago, but did you know our genetic code was made up of 64 codons of DNA. Coincidence? Perhaps.

How the ancient sages managed to take this theory and extrapolate it to the stars, position of planets, and how it affects life on Earth is beyond my ability to explain for now. I hope the above gives you a peek into how patient and wise our ancestors were.

What It Means For Feng Shui If Everything Is Interconnected

I’ve wrote about this before but perhaps I don’t emphasize it enough and people tend to forget. Here’s the blog post you can refer to:

One of my biggest frustrations during my earlier days as a practitioner is how a lot of people simply can’t appreciate this: Your house feng shui has a ‘karmic link’ to your chart. Feng shui is under the umbrella of Chinese metaphysics and it is not separate from what I’ve described above.

The house will paint the same story as your chart. This is not something that is supposed to be new because our ancient sages said this before and it is also the reason for the same 福人居福地, which is that you need some amount of good karma to stay somewhere with good feng shui. My earliest feng shui clients all approached me thinking that I can magically turn a bad house into a good one.

The above blog post on how your astrological chart and feng shui are interconnected was a very memorable case because someone died in the house and that house was even on a firesale because the previous owner went bankrupt. The breakdown and analysis of the house should show all these very clearly and it did.

The reason why I wanted to write about the interconnectivity of things again is because I’ve come across yet another very interesting feng shui audit case study that gave me goosebumps.

I’ll keep the analysis concise:

  • This house is under 巽门乾主。 The main door is in the 巽 Wood sector whereas the master bedroom is in the Northwest sector of 乾。 It’s under 祸害宅 and it’s considered a 阳盛阴衰 house, meaning the Yang energy of the house is far too strong.
  • If you flip through the books, this house is meant for a female head that will have a short-life.

Now, you might be wondering why is it the female head of the house? Because that is what the 巽 Wood sector represents, and there is a clash happening in this sector coming from the master bedroom.

The client who engaged me is a young adult, and he’s kindly allowed me to blog about his case. These are the events that have transpired in this home:

  • My client’s step-father passed away in 2013 in a fatal traffic accident.
  • It sent my client’s mother into depression and she turns to alcoholism, and she is now diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and her liver has ceased to function and it is causing her other organs to fail too.

The above is just a very simple analysis done using Eight Mansions, but despite that, the picture it paints parallels real-life extremely closely. I’d also like to point out that this house sits on a Void Emptiness position and has a very precarious Facing Direction, which makes everything even more severe. I’m not sure why the Eight Mansions method has been frowned upon and labelled an inferior feng shui technique, especially when it has never failed to give me very valuable insights.

Here’s my conversation with him reproduced with permission:

We can add in a lot more layers to the analysis:

  • We can look at the Flying Star arrangements. The above Flying Star chart is for Period 8. As you can see, the Northwest sector is a very inauspicious sector where Star 2 (巨门) and Star 5 (廉贞) are. These are the two most destructive stars in Period 8 and will remain so in Feng Shui Period 9. Star 2 and Star 5 can both related to illnesses.

One of the things that puzzled me was the fatal accident that happened in 2013. By theory, the house should show some signs. My initial conclusion was that this was very unlikely if he slept in the Northwest room, but it dawned upon me that my client’s step-father may not have been sleeping in the Northwest room which my client then confirmed.

Turns out the step-father was sleeping in the Southwest room where Star 5 is. Now, the part which raises goosebumps is that you can actually see why 2013 was the year that the fatal accident happened, but I won’t touch on the technicals of this. The fact that this house is considered too Yang also implies some risks to the male head of the house because if we understand how Yin Yang works, any polarity that reaches an extreme will start to see a decline.

I’ve always said this: You shouldn’t see the house as putting a curse on you. The kind of house, the layout, and even the room you stay in will paint a very coherent story with everything else. But of course, it wouldn’t be 100% apt to say the house doesn’t put a ‘curse’, because we expect a practitioner to help us find a better house so that it ‘blesses’ us. But here comes the circular reasoning that you will be able to achieve this through the help of a practitioner in the first place because, the kind of practitioner you find will also be fated, just like your house. Skeptics will always say that I’m saying such things to position myself as the practitioner to engage. I’ll leave it to everyone to decide why I say the things I say.

How Everything In Metaphysics Is Bound Together

It’s a bit harder to appreciate how a house and one’s chart is interconnected, but a family’s chart will exhibit this extremely clearly if you were to just compare their BaZi charts. Here are the charts for my client and his mother and you will see, just like in all my previous posts, that the house and one’s life has an invisible link to each other:

To see how my client’s chart paints a similar story to what the house he’s staying in, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Are there signs of the mother having a tough life and having health issues?
  • Is the affinity with his father strong? Is the fatal accident in 2013 written in the charts?
  • Are there signs of the mother passing in the next few years?

A few things are extremely clear here:

  • In the son’s chart, we can clearly tell that the element representing the mother, Yin Metal 辛金, is a very destructive element. On top of that, the position representing the mother is also being clashed by 丑未冲 (chou-wei clash).
  • Just by using the son’s chart alone, we can already tell the mother’s affinity with her husband and marriage is very weak. The clue to this is of course hidden in the Branch of 未 and it being clashed.
  • The overall decline of the mother’s life can clearly be seen through the 丑未戌三刑 (chou-wei-xu punishment) which forms when the son entered into his 2019 10-Year Phase. Not all ‘Punishment’ Branch interactions are the same and not all are negative. However, in this case, this particular Branch interaction is extremely negative.

You might be wondering, why does the chart interaction refer to the mother specifically? Because we are taught that the Year Pillar can refer to superiors at work too, so does it mean there will be issues coming from work too? But no, concluding that the events manifesting as superiors would be wrong here.

Now, if you look at the mother’s chart:

  • First of all, please note that this isn’t a chart where you can slap a “strong” or “weak” Daymaster label and expect to get the beneficial elements right. This chart is a bit more complex than that. That being said, we can regard this as a “strong Daymaster” for now.
  • As a Yin Earth person born during winter, she does not have enough Fire appearing to make up for this. The sources of Fire that appear are weakened, so naturally, we cannot regard this as a very high-quality natal chart. Most hobbyists would think that we cannot use Fire because the Daymaster is already strong but this train of thought is wrong.
  • We’re also able to tell the affinity with marriage is very low, and this chart-holder is meant to have failed marriages. We can see this from the fact that her chart has a very strong Metal combination (丑巳酉三合金局) which does not give Wood, her spouse element, any room to exist.
  • The only part in the chart where her Spouse Element appears is in 亥 Water which is also her Day Branch. We all know that the Day Branch represents our marriage, but it gets clashed, and Wood gets harmed.

Now, we know that her second husband perished in 2013. 2013 also happens to be a year where 巳 Fire clashes with her 亥 Day Branch, so this is the first sign. But does it mean that accidents manifest whenever the Day Branch gets clashed?

The next big question is whether both mother and son’s chart paint the same picture. Of course, it does. We can verify this just using one thing:

  • Just assess the element representing the father in the son’s chart and assessing the element representing the husband in the mother’s chart.
  • In both charts, the element representing the father and husband are both supposed to be beneficial elements, but they get harmed, clashed and basically don’t get to appear in the chart in a strong manner.
  • The same logic can be applied to the mother’s health. Both charts should paint the same picture and they do.

I hope this post gives everyone a better appreciation of Chinese cosmology and the origins of Chinese metaphysics. Whatever i say here is nothing new, but perhaps just a reminder to everyone that what would you do differently if you knew everything had some form of interconnection and why I keep emphasizing that you can only progress as far as your weakest aspect of life allows you to.

Everyone loses a bit of their rationality when it comes to feng shui because it’s touted as a life-changing technique just like many other Chinese metaphysical techniques. If you know that where you end up is karmically linked, would you do anything differently? Would a weak, rotting seed still grow in fertile soil? Similarly, will a Category 4 chart-holder benefit from a place that is supposed to have good feng shui?

I advocate transcending charts only because it is an ideal, and it gives our struggles and the difficult things we go through some form of meaning such that we can grow from it. That side, I think I need to maintain a balanced view and reiterate that transcending charts is not for the ordinary person – only sages can achieve this. I also have to remind everything that there are things that are out of our control, like the family we’re born in, and that transcending charts does not mean we get to do whatever we one or have our desires met. Transcending charts means different things for different people.

I said this before, you don’t break free from these laws that bind us just because you took some courses out there or you’re part of some online forum or Facebook group filled with enthusiasts who only wish to learn the application of Chinese metaphysics for superficial gains.

– Sean

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Written by Sean Chan

Sean Chan is Asia's leading Chinese metaphysics consultant specializing in BaZi, Zi Wei Dou Shu, Qi Men Dun Jia, and Feng Shui. A thought-leader in the field, Sean's been featured on Channel NewsAsia, The New York Times Style Magazine and other local media. He blogs regularly about various topics surrounding Chinese metaphysics and aims to educate the public about the field.

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