Zhen, the Thunder

What does Zhen represent?

Zhen represents a decision that emerges deeply from our own inner self. Perhaps it is a solitary decision, after a long phase of contemplation and weighing. Maybe it is a decision that suddenly and unexpectedly appeared, without us anticipating it. But now it is here, and it is a decision that aligns with our own essence. A significant decision, a decision that resonates with us, from deep within ourselves and in our favor.

An Irrevocable Decision

In Traditional Chinese Medicine literature, Zhen is described as the blossoming of a bud in spring: a sudden, surprising event. A transformation. As if a switch has been courageously and decisively flipped. Something has happened, and what has occurred is irreversible. There is no going back. The flower can no longer return to its bud, its former protective covering. With the decision we have made in Zhen, a fundamental change has taken place. And thus, the most important part of the work is done.

Growth Occurs Invisibly

But what happens next? I have said Yes! to myself and embarked on the journey towards myself. What is still to come, what steps must follow?

At this point, let us remember gardening: When we have planted a seed in the soil, watered the spot, and placed the pot in a warm, sunny location, we should let it rest. It would be counterproductive to dig through the soil every day to check on the seed, to see if it has finally sprouted and begun to grow. At its worst, our impatience would destroy the planting.

Accordingly, it is wise to let things happen with trust from this point on. After all, we have done our work – planting the seed, making the decision. If we take a close look at the trigram Zhen, we also see that two yin lines follow the yang line at the root (the bottom line of the trigram), indicating receptivity and an attitude of trust, allowing things to unfold all by themselves.

Having patience can be difficult, undoubtedly. Often, it is a genuine test. What can help is to remind ourselves of the clarity of our own decision and to anchor ourselves in it.

Zhen is associated with the functional circuit of the Gallbladder (GB) in the classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine (see King Wen’s Later Heaven). Corresponding quotes can be found here: Phase Element Wood: Gallbladder

Following the Path of the Dao: Feeling my Roots

In the model of Follow the Path of the Dao, Zhen is one of the four dynamic landmark points. In Zhen, the movement now takes on a clear and decisive direction, trustfully providing space for growth for what emerges from within us.

Questions for self-exploration could be as follows:

  • Do I feel that something is starting to move from within me? What is it, how does this movement feel? How would I describe it?
  • Can I sense the direction in which everything is moving? Do I have an idea of where the journey is heading?
  • How would I describe what was there before, before this new movement? Where do I come from? What am I leaving behind?
  • How does it feel that I am on my way, that I am moving towards where I want to go?

What does Zhen emerge from?

Within a hexagram Zhen develops either from Kan or Dui (exception: the hexagram begins with Zhen / Zhen is the lower trigram). The dark arrows indicate that a (broken) yin line, symbolizing by itself receptivity, is added. Zhen‘s clarity and decisiveness result thus out of a process of internal or external opening.

Zhen develops from Dui, the Lake

Dui, the lake, means to open oneself to the outside, to let new things in and express oneself outwardly while being receptive towards the environment. This triggers consequences: a seed will be planted, something within ourselves will begin to resonate with the environment. This resonance will consolidate, will become reply, decision and finally visible for all in resolute action.

Examples of hexagrams where Zhen develops from Dui → here.

Zhen develops from Kan, the Water

If we trust our gut feeling (Kan, the water), if we are receptive for impulses that penetrate from our unconscious resources to our conscious mind, we plant the primordial seed of a new action, the first step into a new direction.

Examples of hexagrams where Zhen develops from Kan → here.

What does Zhen develop into?

Within a hexagram Zhen develops either into Kun or Gen (exception: the hexagram ends with Zhen / Zhen is the upper trigram).

Zhen develops into Kun, the Earth

Kun develops when a (broken) yin line is added (dark arrow; yin symbolizes receptivity). The clear decision that becomes visible in Zhen, falls on unstructured potential (Kun, the earth): fertile ground from which anything can grow.

Examples of hexagrams where Zhen develops into Kun → here.

Zhen develops into Gen, the Mountain

The red arrow indicates that a (solid) yang line is added. Yang stands for energy, for activity. The initial decision (Zhen) produces disengagement, dissolving (Gen, the mountain), transformation of the old. This transformation can occur abruptly, but often happens gradually and smoothly. Initially, the old structure continues to exist, slowly dissolving over time, while the new structure is already growing and integrating the old.

Examples of hexagrams where Zhen develops into Gen → here.