I Ching and Tai Chi

The I Ching states, “One yin and one yang are the Tao,” and “it is the mother of all things under heaven.” Tai Chi embodies the way of yin and yang, originating from the Infinite (Wuji), which generates the Supreme Ultimate (Taiji), and from Taiji arise the two forms, yin and yang. The “Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor” says, “Yin and yang are the ways of heaven and earth, the guidelines of all creatures, the parents of change, the origin of life and death, and the house of divine intelligence. To cure diseases, one must seek their root in the fundamental principles of nature.” Yin and yang are the fundamental laws of unity and duality in nature, governing all changes and transformations; thus, they are where life and destruction begin. This is the secret of the natural world, and since humans are also part of the natural world, healing must seek this fundamental principle. As everything in nature comprises a unity of yin and yang, and originates from these two opposing yet interdependent forces, the human body must not only maintain internal balance between yin and yang but also adapt to the yin and yang of the natural world. The “Inner Canon” says, “The root of life stems from yin and yang.” Thus, maintaining a relative balance between them can prolong life. In ancient times, true immortals, ultimate beings, sages, and wise men all used various methods to harmonize yin and yang, achieving different effects. Here, I will introduce the cultivation methods of true immortals. The “Inner Canon” says, “In ancient times, there were true immortals who, holding the essence of heaven and earth, grasping yin and yang, breathing the essence, standing alone preserving the spirit, their muscles and flesh as one, thus they could live as long as heaven and earth without end; this is the way of life.” Thus, maintaining the balance of yin and yang prevents illness; as the saying goes, “When yin is balanced and yang secret, the spirit will heal. Those who can grasp yin and yang will live long.”

Tai Chi practices the principle of yin and yang, seeking harmony and unity between the two opposing forces. It is a dialectical unity of motion, moving from yin to yang and from yang to yin, containing elements of each within the other. The Tai Chi classics say, “Within yang there is yin, and within yin there is yang.” “To stick is to yield, and to yield is to stick.” Yin does not depart from yang, nor yang from yin. Understanding this duality leads to mastery of Tai Chi, allowing one to act freely and intuitively, embodying Laozi’s principle that “all things carry yin and embrace yang.”

Tai Chi’s relationship with yin and yang is profound, involving the entire body, not just the hands. Every movement integrates yin and yang, making the practice a comprehensive exercise that mirrors the dynamic interplay of all elements in the universe. Mastery of Tai Chi does not come from merely performing movements but from deeply understanding and internalizing the principle of yin and yang, enabling practitioners to naturally adapt and respond to any force or situation with balance and grace.

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