The Dao created one.
One created two,
Two created three,
And three brought into being the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by balancing these forces.
– Lao Tzu Chpt. 42 Dao Dejing.
The lines of Lao Tzu’s chapter 42 in the Dao Dejing speak of the creation of the Taiji principle. Many people associate the symbol of a black and white circle divided in half by a reverse curving S-shaped line with what they call the Taiji (Tai Chi) or Yin and Yang. The actual name for this symbol is the Taiji Du or supreme ultimate pole.
The idea for this symbol originated with Zhou, Dunyi a metaphysician of the Sung dynasty (1017-1073) His diagram to represent the interaction of the Yin and Yang principle or Taiji Du was a circular configuration of the Gua for Fire, Li, and Water, Kan.
The first Taiji Du
Derived from the Yijing
It is interesting to note that in this symbol fire on the left and water on the right are blending together; when fire and water interact steam is created. Steam is one of the translations of the Chinese character for Qi. Note that there is also a blank circle in the center. This represents the concept of Wuji (void).
Confucians and Daoists adopted another design
The newer symbol, more familiar to both Chinese and Westerners was a design adopted by the Confucians and Daoist it was called “the double fish diagram.” This symbol indicates that which is held in balance yet separated. A few examples of the opposite (placing yang before yin) as experienced in the exercise of Taijiquan are movement-stillness, motion-rest, tangible-intangible straight, curved, expansion-contraction, inhalation-exhalation, outside-inside, solid-empty (void), light-dark, firm -soft, open- close, right- left, forward-backward, float-settle, and rise-sink. There is nothing without it’s opposite; nothing that does not change (move) in order to be permanent (to live) – which in itself is a yin-yang statement.
Proper Position for Taiji Du symbol with the Yijing Gua
Some scholars believe that this diagram was created by drawing a circle inside the Pre-heaven arrangement. An arrangement of symbols for the Yijing (book of changes) ascribed to master Fuxi. The Yijing symbols were arranged in a circle then filling in the energy flow with a calligraphic brush to create the double fish or Taiji Du diagram in the center.
Left side is white representing Yang energy. The white dot in Yin and the black dot in Yang indicate that there is no absolute energy. There is nothing in existence that is truly 100% Yang or 100% Yin all is in flux and everything contains some seeds of its opposite.
Shown here is the correct position of the Taiji Du
The Yijing Gua (lined symbols) is comprised of eight sets of three lines. They are known as earlier heaven (Xiantian Bagua) or as Fuxi Bagua in honor or its creator. It is also known as the polar arrangement because the trigrams or Yin Gua are placed directly opposite of the trigrams of the Yang Gua. The trigram Heaven (Qian) is at the top, south, the trigram Earth (Kun) is at the bottom, north (in the past, the south was located at the top in Chinese maps). The trigram Fire (Li) is located on the left, east and is opposite the trigram Water (Kan) west. Thunder (Zhen) northeast and Wind (Xun) southwest form another pair opposite each other. Mountain (Gen) northwest and Lake (Dui) southeast form the last pair. They symbolize the opposite forces of Yin and Yang and represent an ideal state when everything is in balance. We have also placed the Yijing symbols of the first ring so they line up across from the area of the Taiji-du symbol that correlates to them.