Familiar with that black and white yin-yang symbol, known in ancient Chinese philosophy as taijitu? Surely you’ve seen dogwood trees gracing the landscape but have you seen their taijitu?
Look closely at the blooms on this glorious tree. Each stunning bract (appearing as one of four flower petals) appears marred like a bruise or singe blemishing its perfect beauty.
The contrasting cleft reminds me of my Qigong instructor’s explanation of the taijitu: “The small dots on each side indicate that life is not perfect; nothing is 100 percent.”
That visual concept widened my black and white perspective to realize nothing is all good or all bad. I became more accepting of life as is. Even to say a perfectly imperfect life is perfect as it is. Hmmm. Seems Mother Nature already knew this. Am I surprised?
Some More Thoughts on the Small Black and White Circles (in Taijitu)…
“Located in the areas of their opposite colors, the small circles show that nothing is absolute. In each of the opposing forces there is a small part of the other. In all yin, there is yang and in all yang, there is yin… In every good, there is a little evil and vice versa. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist.” from the Complete Guide to Yin Yang Meanings for Life, Work, Home and Balance by Feng Shui Practitioner, Sally Painter.
Seeing these rounded hay bales in expansive green fields began to stir something deep within a few years ago that felt strangely comforting.
I hadn’t observed this prior to practicing Qigong where I first felt a gentle, circular energy flowing between my hands. The movements soon enriched my gardening activities and evolved my thinking about continued life which led me to the Tao and a spiraled understanding of nature and our connectivity to the universe.
Yin-yang‘s circular energy symbolizes life’s continuum and oneness; that nothing is 100% black or white, right or wrong; we need one to have the other. Hours accelerate around the clock transforming day to night through the calendar of winter to spring, summer to autumn, season to season, year to year, era after era, wrinkled newborn to withered senior. This energy of oneness incorporates ourselves, others and the universe.
It is said that with Qigong (or Tai Chi) practice, you begin to view all of life as part of this circle. I have and am grateful for it. I see the circular trees, the ever lasting round sun and moon, the flowers that know to return year after year, the rounded hay bales at harvest. I use to fear death as a finality of life. But Qigong, gardening, and being in nature have taught me otherwise. This freedom from despair over my eventual death or that of loved ones is healing. Perhaps that is why the hay bales are like Mother Nature’s hugs, offering a soothing kinship with nature and all that is around me.
A garden is usually vibrant in color — even simple whites pop against lively green leaves like lilies of the valley. But, have you noticed the greys? Dusty millerwears yellow flowers while lamb’s ears show off pinkish-purple spikes. There is no “all or nothing.” Like life. Like the Tao.
Look closer at that familiar symbol for yin-yang. It is often identified as positive/negative, dark/light, female/male, etc., etc., yet in reality that is not entirely true. There is more to it. Like life. Like Tao.
In my busyness, I thought this symbol meant opposites. But, in waking up, I see the 2 small dots of opposing colors within each section. There is no complete 50/50, black/white, one or the other. Each has some of the other, and each needs the other to become whole. Life, for me, looked different then.
And the garden continues teaching me. About life. About Tao. Rain can nourish or flood…beautiful flowers can produce allergens… bees can pollinate and sting! Day turns to night, perennials bloom and die then return next year, the sun casts shadows (yin is for shade, yang is for sun). Everything is inter-related. Look at the white sunlight that produces the varied colors in a rainbow. There is so much to life, so much in between; it’s not all grey.