What is the meaning of some of the images that express Tao, such as ying yang? Also, in what ways do we experience seasons of life and what role does our inability to grasp them cause us distress or not (i.e. Taoismhas respect for seasons of life)?
1. Yin and Yang (taijitu)
This sign is not exclusive to Taoism. In terms of Taoist cosmology:
The circle represents Tao: The undifferentiated Unity out of which all of existence arises
The black and white halves within the circle represent “Yin-qi” and “Yang-qi”: The primordial feminine and masculine energies whose interplay gives birth to the manifest world of the Five Elements and Ten-Thousand Things (I will describe these in following paragraphs).
The curves and circles of the Yin-Yang symbol imply a kaleidoscope-like movement. This implied movement represents the ways in which Yin and Yang are mutually-arising, interdependent, and continuously transforming, one into the other. One could not exist without the other, for each contains the essence of the other. Night becomes day, and day becomes night. Birth becomes death, and death becomes birth. Friends become enemies, and enemies become friends. Such is the nature, Taoism teaches, of everything in the relative world.
The smaller circles nested within each half of the symbol serve as a constant reminder of the interdependent nature of the black/white “opposites.” It reminds the Taoist practitioner that all of relative existence is in constant flux and change. And while the creation of pairs-of-opposites would seem to be an aspect of our human software, we can maintain a relaxed attitude around this, knowing that each side always contains the other, as night contains day, or as a mother “contains” the infant that she will, in time, give birth to.
“Existence” and “non-existence” …
This solution will assist the student in examining the meaning in some Taoist images. The student will also examine the differences in the ways general Western society experiences the “seasons of life” as opposed to the Taoist way.