Perhaps you are familiar with this other version of the yìn yáng symbol, as illustrated by Zhou Dunyi. This version of the symbol, while historically older than the more popular yìn yáng, utilizes the Fire and Water trigram positions of the Pre-Heaven sequence. On the left is the trigram for Fire, and on the right is the trigram for Water. The characters to the left and right of the symbol say: “yáng, motion” and “yìn, repose” (Louis, 2003). The center of the circle represents wú jí (無極), a balanced and undifferentiated state of yìn-yáng, loosely translated as “there is no extreme” (Schuessler, 2007), or “no ridgepole” (Robinet & Wissing, 1990). While this particular diagram is attributed to Zhou Dunyi, there is an older symbol that is quite similar.Zong Mi Tai Ji This older symbol is attributed to the Buddhist scholar, Zong Mi, of the Tang dynasty, who used the symbol to denote a balanced consciousness in which “the true and the false” are blended (Louis, p. 177). Although Zong Mi was Buddhist, some scholars have suggested that the diagram itself may not be purely Buddhist in origin, due to the fact that the original colors were red and black (Robinet & Wissing, 1990). Red and black are the traditional Chinese colors for Fire and Water, respectively, suggesting cultural influences beyond Buddhism. Furthermore, since this diagram was a product of the Tang dynasty, the Daoist ideas of nèi dān (内丹) or inner alchemy, were already established (Robinet & Wissing, 1990).
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