Taiji is an ancient Chinese philosophy about the natural world and is one of the central elements of traditional Chinese culture.
The word Taiji itself refers to the “great primal beginning” of all that exists, and is often translated as the ‘Supreme Ultimate’. It is the state of absolute and infinite potential, the oneness before the duality. This concept is comparable to the initial state of the universe right at the moment of the big bang, or the initial singularity. From this state, Yin and Yang were generated.
The Taiji philosophy holds that all natural phenomena have two aspects – Yin and Yang. They are the opposite yet complementary forces which form the two primary aspects of the universe. Yin and Yang are interdependent and they cannot exist independent of one another. If there is no light, one cannot talk about darkness. Without stillness, there cannot be the concept of motion.
Furthermore, Yin and Yang are never absolute, as reflected in the Yin / Yang symbol. Within the dark there is the seed of light, and within the white, one finds the essence of black. Both arise from and exist within the oneness and infinite potential of Taiji, constantly alternating and evolving. A deeper introduction to the philosophical aspects of Taiji can be found in the Online Academy student manual.
Practically speaking, Taiji philosophy emphasizes the importance of maintaining balance between Yin and Yang – a perspective which applies to all aspects of our daily lives. Pour 100 hours of your week into work and you will probably achieve success professionally (the Yang), but what will be the potential impact to your health, your relationships and your other responsibilities (the Yin)? Make your choices with full awareness and fully appreciate the results. In viewing life’s decisions and challenges from two different angles, one can become more grounded, optimistic and tolerant of processes and outcomes.
In common usage, people often refer to the martial art Taijiquan (or Tai Chi Chuan) as Taiji (or Tai Chi). While technically inaccurate, this simplification of the term does provide an accessible introduction to the philosophy and terminology. Click here for more on the martial art Taijiquan (or Tai Chi Chuan)