When one becomes two.
The dynamics of life are what leads us astray, but returning to the source is always with us, according to Tai Chi.
It's one of those mysteries that you never really get to wrap your head around, but nonetheless it's a core principle in self-discovery.
We find it in both Indian and Chinese mythology, as well as in quantum physics.
In my opinion, though, the Taoist way is the most poetic and practical, and when those two things walk together, it's always wise to pay attention.
The Taoist tradition has many forms, but one of the most beautiful is the ancient Chinese martial art, Tai Chi.
It's founded in slow-motion movements to cultivate the Chi (life force) in the body, and from there it evolves into highly advanced martial art and meditative training.
In one of the ancient Chinese scriptures (written by Wang, Zong-Yue), Tai Chi is described as a movement arising from the one ultimate source.
It's further described in this way (translated by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming),
“It is the mother of Yin and Yang. When it moves, it divides. At rest, it reunites.”
Meaning, Tai Chi is the movement causing the split of the one source into dualities, which is where the dynamics of life begin. Plus, when Tai Chi is still, it reunites with the one ultimate source.
In other words, the cultivation of the life force is about returning to the source through stillness, but the path to get there is mastering the movement of life.
From a self-discovery point of view, this principle is pure gold because it tells us why we are constantly challenged by our own process.
It's like walking down a road without being aware of it, and then starting to think about what we are actually doing there.
The moment we do that, the road splits into two roads going in opposite directions. We now have to choose between them.
So, we start exploring one of them, but the more aware we become of it, the more it continues to split into a new pair of opposite roads.
Eventually, we are so far away of our initial choice that we have forgotten all about it, and we never get around to explore the other road.
We are completely involved in life and as a result, we suffer from a lack of understanding and start to ask questions like, how did I end up here?
Returning to the source
The process can be frustrating, and this is where most people start their personal growth journey.
They want to eliminate their feeling of despair over not understanding themselves in life.
However, most personal growth methods are based on building awareness of where you want to go.
Nothing wrong with that, but every time you do it, you split your path into opposites once again.
If your goal is to return to the source, then you might want to reconsider this method, since it will only lead to more suffering.
By contrast, the beauty of the Taoist principle is that you can return to the source at any time. All you need is stillness, and it's always there with you.
The moment you activate it in the mind, you return to where life comes from.
Finding your key
Typically, the way to it is meditation, but it doesn't work for everyone.
To some, meditation causes more noise in the mind than being in flow with a movement, for instance.
Which brings us back to Tai Chi because it was developed exactly for that purpose. It helps you find stillness in physical movement.
It does more than that, though. It also tells you that this fundamental principle is present in anything, and not confined to Tai Chi.
Any physical activity counts. It's a matter of mastering the stillness of the mind through it.
Or, to put in the language of self-discovery, you must find your own key, whatever it is.
There are no rules other than discovering an activity that brings stillness to your mind. Then the two will return to the one.