As I look around my hometown, New York City, I am reminded how everything is in a state of flux and change. A favorite store goes out of business, a new bland designer one takes its place. Condos going up everywhere, at the expense of older, distinguished buildings being demolished. The ancient Chinese observed and explained life’s transformations in the classic book of change, The I Ching. Let’s continue to examine the I Ching’s inner core, the eight Trigrams. All of the trigrams represent processes of nature. We began with the initiating, persevering Heaven Trigram, as well as the receptive Earth Trigram. We now move on to the Fire Trigram. This Trigram is composed of a yang, solid line on top, a broken, yin line in the middle, and a solid, yang line at the bottom. The yin, inner line tempers the strong yang of the top and bottom. The Chinese name for this Trigram is Li which is translated to light or “bright.” When we think of being bright, it often represents a academic student with strong intelligence. The brightness of Fire Trigram truly represents intelligence, but not limited to a strong concrete mind, (left brain) but equally as important, a strong creative mind (right brain). The bridging of these two hemispheres leads to Li, transparency and clarity. In relation to the Fire Trigram, the consciousness of transparency means letting the inner light shine through. The intelligence then becomes active, leading to ideas and revelations, which in turn leads to an awakening within ourselves to move forward and make changes in a clear, wise, manner.
The analytical left brain generates a keen mindfulness. There is no confusion but only clear and precise thinking. The left brain urges us to ask questions and get to the bottom of a problem. It is the brain that makes us curious, so we seek the facts. We look from the outside in order to determine what is real and unreal. We achieve this through precise definition with clear boundaries. Like a muscle, the left brain needs exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Unfortunately, due to life’s pressures, it is often the brain that we cannot turn off. It becomes the monkey brain, filled with worry, anxiety, etc. leading to insomnia and other psychological imbalances. It needs to be tempered by the intuitive, creative right brain.
The intuitive, right brain lights up when we get involved with creative endeavors. This can be by participating or observing. Art, dance, music, writing theater, writing, reading, builds our aesthetic perception, and imagination. We look at the divine picture and have a urge to create from the inside out. Our mind becomes fertile with ideas. The intellect is illuminated with a direct intuitive perception leading to pure truth without the interference from the reasoning mind. The intuitive brain needs tempering from the analytical, grounded left brain. Otherwise we become to dreamy or spacey.
Through all of our self development exercises the two brains begin to bridge. We no longer categorize everything in black and white. Our thinking is in the abstract. We realize that there isn’t anything in the universe that is totally identical, so we discern the unique essence behind the appearances. We observe the patterns and look at the big picture. Our mind is wide open. Experiences in life that we take to heart become more important than just gathering information. The abstract mind draws upon life’s lessons, the what and why of everyday conflicts in order to gain true knowledge and wisdom. This is the radiance, the”Li” of the Fire Trigram.
“Just along as I am in this world, I am the Light of this world.”
(Jorma Kaukonen, Quah, 1974)