"Taiji" (太極) is a state of being from
Taoand Wuji. It is a state of absolute, and of infinite potentiality. In Tao Te Ching, Tao manifested as "One", which is Taiji [Tao te Ching Chapter 42 : 道生一。一生二。二生三。三生萬物] . In a Taoist guidance book, the same verse was amplified as out of Tao came Taiji, which then split into yin and yangor "Two Aspects", yin and yang slitting into the "Four Realms", Wu xingthe Five Elements, and from there the world was created [Tiantang Yiuchi Chapter 4 : 原由無極 (Wuji) 元始一動而生太極 (Taiji)，太極含兩儀 ("two aspects") 陰陽 ( yin and yang)，而化三才四象 ("Four Realms") 五行( Wu xing)……。] .
Taiji was a state in which the world became before creation. Taiji may be equated to the "One", "Oneness", Unity, as in "attaining One or Unity" (得一) [Robinet (1981), p. 16.] and as stated in the
Tao Te Ching[Tao Te Ching Chapter 39 : 昔之得一者。天得一以清。地得一以寧。神得一以靈。谷得一以盈。萬物得一以生。] .
Translated as "the great ultimate," [Chen, Ellen M. (1989). "The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary." St. Paul Minnesota: Paragon House.] the "Taiji" is understood to be the ideal of
existence. Yin and yang represent the contrasting qualities within reality and experience. For example, light contrasts with darkness, providing them both with context and therefore meaning. "Taiji" is not perceived as a simple list of all things and potential things, but rather a complex interconnection of all things in all possible contexts. This concept is often used to illustrate the doctrine of cosmological unity. It is also used to explain the creation of the "myriad things" (i.e., everything in existence) through the dialectical process of alternating polarity between yin and yang. Western proponents of Taoism sometimes conflate "Taiji" and the "myriad things," but "Taiji" is not only representative of what exists, but also that which has existed, will exist, and could potentially exist.
"Taiji" in historical China
The concept of "Taiji" was introduced in the "
Zhuang Zi," showing its early place in Taoism. It also appears in the Xì Cí (Great Appendix) of the " I Ching," a fundamental Taoist classic.
Confucianismcame to the fore again during the Song Dynastyas Neo-Confucianism, it synthesized aspects of Chinese Buddhismand Taoism, and drew them together using threads that traced back to the metaphysical discussions in the "Book of Changes."
*Robinet, Isabelle. "Taoism: Growth of a Religion" (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997 [original French 1992] ) page 103. ISBN 0-8047-2839-9.
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