People ask me about Taoist symbols. The most famous of Taoist symbols is the yin yang glyph. Now as you know, the yin yang glyph is like two fish practicing the ancient French art of soixante neuf. And where the black fish has his head really big, there’s a little white dot, like an eye. And where the white fish has her head really big there’s a little black dot, again like an eye.
And what this symbolizes is that you have these two forces, the static and the dynamic, the conservative and the progressive, the contracted and the expansive, the dark and the light, the joyful and the serious, and so on and so forth. It’s the play of opposites in other words.
And this dynamic of the two moving constantly round and round each other operates at every single level, at every stratum of existence, so that you have your life governed by a flow of difficulty followed by ease, of challenge followed by triumph, of illness followed by recovery. And then the other way round as well. You get to a point where you’re really doing well, you start to congratulate yourself and that point is usually the beginning of when you begin to trip over yourself and things start going the other way.
And the idea of understanding and accommodating this yin yang phenomenon is that you’re able to maintain a state of personal equilibrium no matter which phase of the cycle is most up in your life at that point in time.
I always think of it as sitting on the middle of one of those child’s see-saws in the playground. When you sit on the middle you could make either end go up really high, or up and down, but you’d be able to maintain your balance in the middle of it all. So you’re able to enjoy the ride, to enjoy the motion without being upended in any way.
Other Taoist symbols that are well known are the hexagrams from the I Ching, the six nine figures composed of broken lines and unbroken lines, which between them give sixty-four combinations and I Ching was and is still used as an oracle, a way of understanding how reality’s working behind the scenes.
Others are images of Lao Tzu, said to be in a way the mystical godfather of Taoism, Confucius even, and the Buddha, and the internal deity so to speak, these kind of essences that live within the body.
And also the Taoist inner alchemical process, the procedures whereby the old sages would come to find the true essence of who they were, because in finding your true essence you are one with the underlying primordial power of existence and once you’re riding that it’s like nothing can get in your way in the most benign way of course.
And there you go, Taoist symbols, there’s a lot to be said.