Most symbols—particularly of religious context—don’t do much for me.
I wear an Ankh necklace, but I don’t care that the Ankh represents life and fertility. I wear it because it’s a sentimentality—something I’ve had since 1989. Most symbols are typically straightforward with their implied meaning but can drive violence in others toward others—simply because of their perceived meaning. I find that behaviour quite silly.
I’m far more intrigued by a symbol I can stare at and contemplate for years. This is why I’m particularly intrigued by the YIN-YANG symbol of Taoism. The scientist in me doesn’t subscribe to religious dogma or most (not all) mystical inferences of any belief system. I am intrigued by the philosophical nature of any belief system—particularly, one that can be matched with the scientific method and come out with facts versus superstition and inaccuracy.
The Tao uses The Yin-Yang as one representation of cause-and-effect; give WITH take; soft WITH hard; speed WITH stillness. The Tao translates to “the way” essentially. For fellow SciFi geeks, it’s the equivalent to The Force. For Christians, it’s the equivalent to God. For scientists, it’s the equivalent to physics. For naturists, it’s the equivalent to nature. Whatever the term, the concept of there being A WAY in which all things work and interconnect with one another—and studying that way—opens the door to endless self-discovery.
I’ve always believed that there was no such thing as PEACE. Peace is something humans created out of a desire to avoid conflict and pain. When you take a larger peek at The Universe (I’m talking about The Cosmos.. stars, black holes, etc.), you quickly realize that The Tao of Yin-Yang has always been in motion and has always been the absolute TRUTH. Life cannot exist without violence. Birth is a violent, painful act. In The Cosmos, a galaxy is birthed violently.. planets are formed through impact.. life happens through a violent act.
I believe there is only HARMONY. The harmonious balance is the order of the universe and all things therein. If we have balance, we have harmony. A tiger can feed upon an antelope—that is not peaceful—that is a natural order. A female may feel pain while giving birth—that is not peaceful—that is a natural order. One cannot exist without the other. Therein lies the secret to Yin-Yang and the harmonious balance of all things.
When one goes against the natural order of a thing, CONFLICT is born. No good can come from conflict. No progress. Conflict is an empty hole that devours all things in its path. The only way to defeat conflict is to prevent it from happening. Meet aggression with passivity. Meet impatience with tolerance and understanding. If you attempt to meet force against force, only the strongest of the two will prevail—yet, both may cease to exist after colliding.
The Tao te Ching references how we (carbon-based life forms) are born SOFT but age and die STIFF. Death, often, is a violent act. In The Cosmos, often an astral body must die in order for another to be born—not unlike a Phoenix. If you study how stars are born and what happens to them after they burn out, you understand a very real and simple cycle. Our lives are simply represented by actions and reactions that occurred billions of years before us. Our lives are represented by a microverse of organisms that will be around billions of years after us.
For me, The Tao is a fairly new thing that I’ve only recently started studying more deeply. Obviously, I’m familiar with Gung Fu and Chinese culture and philosophy, already, so doing a deeper-dive into the way of movement and energy and simplicity and interaction is immensely interesting.
My first exposure to The Tao and Yin-Yang was through Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Specifically, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, a book that was published posthumously. It was a collection of Bruce Lee’s learned philosophies and how they interact with his fighting method. Despite the fact that I’ve trained with marital artists who’ve crossed paths with JKD and Chinese Martial Arts and understand bits-and-pieces of what Bruce was attempting to get across, I’ve come to realize that one cannot possibly understand his method fully until one understands The Tao. I never appreciated Bruce Lee’s philosophy nearly as much until I started learning more about the principle influence on his fighting method.
In the business world, The Tao can be applied. We’ve learned of workplace conflict—which can lead to workplace violence. We’ve learned of healthy competition and self-competition. We’ve learned of employee training methods and policies/procedures to do things the right way. We’ve learned of continuous improvement. The Tao is a way of improvement, but it doesn’t mean adding on… it can mean taking away from, as well. Simplicity. The businesses that strive for innovation do not necessarily have to continue adding-on and growing their costs, for example. They can look to simplify training methods and resources (employee cross-training); they can look to more centralized, condensed system resources and cross-functional teams to reduce cost without reducing throughput; they can improve documentation and audit results through consistency versus complexity.
I love the endless philosophy that The Tao and Yin-Yang asks us to delve into. I love how complimentary its questions interweave with scientific answers that can be applicable to all things harmonious—or all things desiring harmony and balance.
I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the future as I journey-on, but I wanted to share my introductory adventure with this ancient-yet-new philosophy from a fairly unique perspective.