Prophets Taoism

Taoist Yin-Yang

Taoism does not uphold any belief in God. The main aspect of Taoism is derived from the first three letters of this philosophical belief namely, ‘Tao’. Tao means ‘path’ or ‘way’ and its core ideas were manifested by a Chinese teacher called Lao-Tzu in 604 BCE. According to Lao-Tzu, the Tao is the origin and nature of the universe. It is the way of life for all species on our planet, including human beings living in tribal societies. This explanation of the Tao gives rise to the possibility that the Tao in actual fact describes God as the creator of the universe and that God’s ‘way’ namely Islam, is the exact way of life which Lao-Tzu envisaged for all civilisation in this world. In his celebrated book, Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(ru) best describes the similarities in meaning between the Tao and the Qur’anic and Islamic description and expla- nation of God. Having briefly introduced Taoism, I set the scene in answering how Taoism ultimately compliments Islam in explaining the existence of God. In Taoism, the path (Tao) is sustained in the universe by an older doctrine which has been incorporated into Taoism called, ‘The Old Dualism’ or in short the ‘Yin-Yang’. This belief in dualism, yin and yang, describes a state in which the universe is seemingly divided into two opposing but equal forces. The dualistic world of yin and yang however, is not seen as good versus bad. It is divided along other lines. Yang, represented by the white in the yin-yang symbol, stands for the creative principle while yin, represented by black, is dissolution and return (to creation). Yang came to represent hot, dry, male, light, hardness, movement and initiative. Yin 60 The Review of Religions – July 2006 Taoist Yin-Yang A short study of how the Taoist philosophy of Yin-Yang compares to Islam and explains the existence of God By Asim Rai – UK symbolises coolness, moistness, female, darkness, softness, still- ness and receptivity. The yin and yang forces are believed to be cyclical, moving and evolving into each other, represented by the white dot on the black yin side of the symbol, and by a black dot on the white yang side. In this view, the universe depends on the interaction between these two forces which arise from the Tao. The book of Taoism, The Tao Te Ching, describes the implications of the yin and the yang. I have chosen two verses: The Tao is like stringing a bow, Pulling down the high, Lifting up the low- Shortening the long, Lengthening the short, To take from the excessive And give insufficiency support. (Verse 77: the Opposite Processes) We know beauty because there is ugly, We know good because there is evil, Being and not being, Having and not having, Create each other. Difficult and easy, Long and short, High and low, Define each other, Just as before and after follow each other. (Verse 2: Relativity) From the two verses we understand that much of what exists, only exists through the realisation of its opposite. We cannot define things as being easy if we never experience something more difficult. If we cannot become ill, the term ‘good’ health would cease to exist as there would be no general purpose to pursue health, as we cannot become ill. It seems that everything in this world has come in ‘pairs’ to define and create each other and to create balance. Such a notion is clearly upheld in the Holy Qur’an: Holy is He Who created all things in pairs, of what the earth grows and of themselves, 61 TAOIST YIN-YANG The Review of Religions – July 2006 and of what they know not. (Ch.36: V.37) He is the Prime Creator of the heavens and the earth. He made pairs from among you and also pairs from among the cattle for your benefit. He multiplies you therein. (Ch.42: V.12) And of everything have We created pairs, that you may reflect. (Ch.51: V.50) The Qur’an prompts man to reflect on how God made everything in pairs (Ch.51:V.50), and it is this exact prompt which allows one to view the doctrine of yin and yang as one which ultimately explains the existence of God. Having established that the universe is in its totality bound by the doctrine of the yin and yang as further established by the Qur’an, we now know that for one thing to exist, it must be put into balance by another thing which exists as its opposite (i.e. good and bad). If there was no death, life on Earth would be severely unbalanced as the Malhiusian theory is that the Earth could not possibly sustain an infinite amount of creation. Thus death is the vital balancing factor as being opposite to life. However, death itself implies the physical nature of man (body), which can never be infinite. When we die, our body perishes. Yet Islam teaches us that our souls continue to exist for a very long time. How can this belief be reconciled with the idea of yin-yang? The answer is quite simple. Humans are mortals – The Holy Qur’an explained that God made everything in pairs. Through reflection we can realise that the only ‘opposite’ to balance mortality is immortality itself. Therefore, there exists a realm of immortality alongside mortality to balance the universe. God cannot die and will never cease to exist, and He Himself balances mortality, by His attribute, which is found in this world. One may argue that even if God is Immortal, that it does not necessarily mean God is All Knowing and All-Powerful. Therefore, how can we be sure. The answer to this lies in the 62 TAOIST YIN-YANG The Review of Religions – July 2006 reflection of our surroundings. Life can never on its own create itself from nothing. Atheists find it hard to explain how the first organisms ever came into existence. Physical matter cannot originally create life. Life is not physical in its entirety. Thus creation of all sorts needs a Creator, and we know this Creator to be God. By looking at this world, it would require perfect knowledge to have created all that we could through our senses. Moreover, God is All-Powerful. He is Immortal, and the All- Knowledge. The study of Taoism is quite paradoxical. Taoism overtly expresses that God is not the factor that created all, nor is He the maintainer of the universe. What is He then? Taoists are very conclusive about this idea and yet dwell in the teaching of Lao-Tzu who says in one of his verses in the Tao Te Ching, that ‘the spirit of life never dies, it is the infinite gateway to mysteries within mysteries.’ One must surely always be cautious when trying to make conclusive statements involving mysteries. One aspect that has intrigued many minds about Taoism, is its fondness for the much older idea of the yin and the yang. Having noticed that the doctrine of ‘pairs’ as read in the Qur’an was similar to the yin- yang, the truth of God’s existence is no mystery. By understanding that opposites need each other to define and sustain each other, universal mortality needs universal immortality in the form of God, Who has the knowledge to sustain the entire ‘tao’ or universe. Therefore Taoism and its doctrine of yin and yang, compliments Qur’anic teachings in proving God’s existence. 63 TAOIST YIN-YANG The Review of Religions – July 2006 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to provide discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. 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