Ba Gua means “Eight Hangings”. In English, it is also known as the ‘Eight Hangings’, ‘Eight Trigram’, and ‘Pa Kua’. The ‘eight’ are lines that are either solid or broken. Each line is called a ‘yao’. A solid line represents yang and a broken line represents yin. When one puts three yao lines together we have a gua.
The fundamental aspects of the Ba Gua start with understanding the Tai Chi Diagram of Yin/Yang. The ba gua has many parts to understand which takes years of research, reflection, martial art and Qi Gong training, Feng Shui education and more. Therefore this will only be an introduction.
The Ba Gua is usually understood in two distinct levels: xian tian ba gua Pre-Heaven (also known as ‘Earlier Heaven’ or ‘Primordial’) Ba Gua which was discovered by Fu Xi and hou tian ba gua Post-Heaven (also known as ‘Later Heaven’ or ‘Manifested’) Ba Gua which was discovered by King Wen.
The Pre-Heaven Ba Gu and the Post-Heaven Ba Gua both use the same symbols of solid and broken lines, but they are arranged differently. To be able to read the ba gua, you start with the bottom line. So if a gua is in the octagon shape or listed you will be able to know which one you are reading.
The ba gua is used in many disciplines from divination to martial art. There are even some biologists and geneticists who are starting to use the ba gua and the I Ching to map out DNA. The divination comes from the Yi Jing or better known as the I Ching the book of changes. The I Ching is just the regular ba gua doubled, so instead of 8, it is 64. However, we don’t stop there, we can go to 4096 and further still!
In martial arts, Tai Ji Quan uses it as part of the 13 postures and there is a whole martial art based on the ba gua called Ba Gua Zhang or Pa Kua Chang. It is known as the circle walking martial art because they train in walking in the form of the ba gua.
The philosophy of the ba gua teaches us how the universe changes and that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes. If we can learn how to better understand the intrinsic levels of the ba gua, our understanding of the universe works including quantum physics and Newtonian physics. We understand so little now, and the knowledge that is out there is only the beginning.