Taoists believe in the fundamental nature of completeness in all things. Contrary to traditional Western ideas, Taoists see that all things are existing in a balance of yin and yang, in harmony with one another, existing at the same time in a state of flux and interconnectedness. This opposes the early Aristotelian logic which is based on scientific theory, proofs and theorems based on the idea that ‘A is not A’. When we speak of the Tao, or the ‘Way’ we see that all opposites or polarities are inextricably linked as two interwoven parts of a singular whole. (Ref: The Web that has no Weaver by T. Kaptchuk)
Therefore, in Taoist thought, nothing is everything and everything is nothing. This first existential moment of observation is referred to with a symbol of a perfect circle, called the Wuji, signifying complete emptiness, identified within a circle:
The Wuji in flux starts to move and twist, creating the Taiji.
The Taiji is a depiction of the polarity of Yin and Yang, with Yang (light) on the top containing a small amount of Yin, and Yin on the bottom (dark) containing a small amount of Yang. This signifies that within all yang there is some yin, and all yin there is some yang. Taoism uses yin and yang to generalize all things in the cosmos – everything is created with a measure of yin and yang.
Philosophically, it is the goal of the Taoist to reverse the twist and movement of the Taiji cord, to return to awareness of the unity state of the Wuji.
Yin and Yang are polarized expressions of the whole. This familiar concept is at the heart of Taoist Creation Theory and can be further described as two binomials.
Yin ( — ), is represented by a broken line, and Yang ( ‒ ) , a solid line:
Male / Female
This notation of yin and yang is used to construct the Bagua, which is an eight-directional expression of the compass. The Bagua is created by combining yin and yang, adding a second line of each to our original pair. These lines represent the seasons, and the four primary stages of Yin and Yang:
Winter / Spring / Summer / Autumn
With the further addition of an extra line, the Eight Trigrams (three line binomials) of the Bagua are formed, illustrating the directions of the Bagua and the foundation of the Taoist Compass:
Heaven / Lake / Fire / Thunder / Wind / Water / Mountain / Earth
Each of the eight trigrams is a particular combination of yin and yang and symbolizes a compass point. The arrangement of these trigrams into an octagonal shape is called the Early Heaven Map or Sequence, also known as the Ba Gua (Great Symbol):
To take it one step further, the eight trigrams combine into six line binomials, these pairs forming the 64 hexagrams (eight times eight), symbolizing the interactions of all possible energy interactions and phenomena of the Universe. The name ‘Feng Shui’ is directly translated from the Hexagram of Wind over Water, also know as Hexagram 59 concerning the quality of mind required for self healing. This hexagram describes the use of music, prayer, meditation or a common project to create an opportunity for emotional release and gathering around a great ideal. (Ref: The I-Ching or Book of Changes by Brian Browne Walker)
The 64 interactions of the Trigrams are the foundation of all interpretations of the I-Ching. The I-Ching, also referred to the ‘Book of Truths’ or the ‘Book of Changes’ in it’s many interpretations, describes the nature of life’s experiences and circumstances in 64 chapters. Studying the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching is believed by Taoists to be the foundation for enlightening the human mind to the nature of all possible life situations, circumstances, and experiences. Throughout it’s numerous interpretations, the I-Ching continues to be a source of deep philosophical inquiry.