The Wood Dragon

by Lama Anagarika Govinda

from The Inner Structure of the I Ching, 1981

From the hexagram the hexagram hengeng

the image of duration

The dragon dwells in the thundercloud. It is the stimulating, arousing, exciting force that breaks forth from the depth of the earth and from the heights of the sky. It symbolises the élan vital in nature as well as in man. In nature it is the beginning of movement and growth, in man the volatile impulse, the stimulating excitement. If this dynamic force is gauged and absorbed by a receptive element the otherwise threatened harmony is re-established.

Such a harmonising element is symbolised by Wood, the organic element that is penetrated by air, appearing in nature as wind, in humans as conscious breath and in all other organisms as a life-giving universal force. The awakening of consciousness shows itself first as feeling. It means receptiveness and the faculty of assimilation. In man it means intuition and the wooddragonsensitiveness.

Dragon and Wood belong to the same category of trigrams that not only complement but also further each other, so that they are able to produce a state of complete harmony. Such harmony however is seldom realised because generally one or the other of these elements prevails. When the Dragon prevails it leads to outer activity, aggressiveness or toughness. If the element Wood prevails it results in extraordinary sensitivity, softness and excessive feeling.

Because it is the base line that determines the nature of a trigram the sign for Wood belongs to the yin-side in spite of its two strong lines while the trigram Dragon belongs to the yang-side despite having two weak lines. However it can be seen from the arrangement of lines in the hexagram that a great reserve of latent strength is hidden behind the outer softness and impressibility.

The nature of thunder and wind is their movement. But this does not contradict the regularity and constancy of their appearance. They are ever recurring and in this sense constant phenomena, always combined in the same way. The image is therefore one of duration. Duration is a kind of movement which is not exhausted by hindrance. It is a self-perpetuating constant movement of an organically formed unit in which each attainment is a new beginning. Duration is the fulfilment of an inner motion comparable to inhalation that transforms itself gradually into an outward movement in which what has been gathered in is again dispersed and transformed.


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