Taoism’s religious and philosophical tradition is symbolized by the Taijitu symbol (also called Daoism). The expression ‘diagram of the absolute ultimate’ refers to the well-known Chinese idea of yin and yang, in which opposites coexist in perfect harmony.
The Taijitu sign is made up of two whirling ‘teardrop’ shapes (one black and one white) that fit together perfectly to form a complete circle. Each figure contains a piece of the other, resulting in a black dot in the white half of the circle and a white dot in the black. These seemingly diametrically opposed but complimentary halves form a whole, and so are incomplete without one another.
Yin is represented by the dark or shady side, while Yang is represented by the white or sunny side. Yin is related with femininity, the ground, water, the moon, and the night, and is described as passive, cool, soft, yielding, and wet. Yang, on the other hand, is connected with masculinity, sin, fire, sky, and daylight, and is aggressive, hot, harsh, and dry. Deception is symbolized by the white, whereas enlightenment is symbolized by the black.
The Taijitu sign conveys the idea that everything lives in duality, which is a fundamental part of nature. There can’t be an idea of good without a corresponding concept of terrible. Men and women, right and wrong, light and darkness, positive and negative, hot and cold, day and night, and all other opposing aspects are intertwined and cannot exist in isolation.
In a way, the Taijitu symbol’s whirling motion also represents the heavenly circle of life. Every birth ends in death, and death leads to rebirth, as the world changes constantly and continues forward in unique cycles. For example, the day transforms into night, and the night leads to another day.