Understanding of I-Ching and Tai Chi
Tai Chi, The Great Ultimate, was found earliest in Book of Change, or otherwise known as I-Ching. Legend said that this scripture has written by first emperor of Zhou Dynasty - Zhou Wen Wang. Thus I-Ching is also known as Zhou-Yi.
I-Ching, or Book of Change, with its name implies, stated that life is in constant flux of change. The word I (Yi in pinyin) means 'change' in Chinese. It is formed from characters of sun and moon, which represents yang and yin respectively.
It has a verse stating, "Changes has Great Ultimate, which give rise to Two Elements. The Two Elements give rise to Four Phenomena, and Four Phenomena give rise to Eight Hexagrams..."
Let’s begin with word Tai Chi – Great Ultimate. It actually means earliest, beginning... of all events and things. In some case, it refers to Universe by ancient Chinese.
In one of scripture, it stated that "One yin and one yang is Way..." This means that all changes of events and things in universe come from this opposing, yet united forces of yin and yang.
This is why in from Tai Chi, there arises in Two Elements - yin and yang. Take a look at Tai Chi diagram, which is better known as 2-Fishes diagram in Chinese. It is a circle divided into 2 sections in proportion. The circle is representing Tai Chi, or Universe Whole, and within this wholeness, there’s Two Elements.
The division of yin and yang in Tai Chi means that there are 2 opposing elements, represented by black section and white section respectively. Yet, division is not a straight division, but a curved division – meaning that 2 opposing elements actually accommodate each other in order to form complete circle.
Firstly, this means that while it is divided as opposing elements – it is united in a way to form complete wholeness. The opposing yet united forces of yin and yang became basis of thinking in I-Ching. And Tai Chi uses concepts in I-Ching, yin and yang elements as core concepts to explain both physical and meta-physical aspects of world.
Secondly, curved division gives a sense of balance. Here, we are talking about balancing yin and yang elements here. There's this statement in I-Ching: "When yin goes to extreme, yang is born. And when yang goes to extreme, yin is born".
Look at 2-fishes diagram again. If you go in counter-clock wise along diameter of Tai Chi circle, you will find that as one element grows more and more and reach its peak, other elements will begin to grow in replacement. For example, if you move along diameter on black side, you will see that ‘half’ represented by black will become bigger and bigger and then suddenly shrink and white ‘half’ will begin to grow instead. This means that if one element goes to extreme, other will begin to set in.
What does this mean to us then? Simple: we have to balance our life in every aspect, and do not just focus only on one or a few. We have to balance between work and personal life, between family and friends, between material and spiritual, and list goes on. Otherwise, there will be disharmony in our lives.