.... This original great Movement and Quiescence (Chart 2, Devolution from the Wu Chi) merge into One and this One is called the T'ai Chi: The Great Limit, the Manifest Absolute, Saguna Brahman (the Absolute with qualities). These qualities are sat-chit-ananda — Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss.
.... T'ai chi and Wu Chi are two extremes of the same fundamental reality. When Yang/motion and its corollary Yin/rest totally cease to be manifest, the T'ai Chi dissolves into Wu Chi.
When the Yang/motion manifests, the Wu Chi appears as T'ai Chi. They are limits — one is the extreme of the other.
From the Void, from the Absolute nothing, from the absence of all, there is motion. But that motion is balanced with quiescence. When quiescence reaches a limit, it becomes motion. This is an expression of an ever-existent, wave-like reality. It also expressed the Law of Three — three primary forces interacting: Yin, Yang and the force of the Whole, the Balance, the Return. This is a creative process going from one extreme to the other, showing endless cycles of reality.
It is written that from this T'ai Chi stem the Six and from the Six appear the Five, and from the Five come the Ten Thousand Things.
The Five are the five elements or Five Elemental Forces. These are not, as some modern readers often think, elements in the sense of the ninety-two elements of the Periodic Table.
The five elemental forces are five types or levels of energy manifestation. The Chinese term for the energy that makes up the substance of the universe is Qi, which should not be confused with the term chi (limit) and ch'i (will to action).
These five basic forms of Qi are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.
Metal encompasses mineral, hydrogen, and other elements.
Wood encompasses plant life. Plant life is literally rooted to the earth, grows from the earth, and is constantly alive in one form or another in the earth. Wood, therefore, becomes the symbol of life.
The Fire element encompasses heat, light, the digestive process, anger, and so on.
Water encompasses all liquid forms, as well as yielding to force.
And the Earth is the center, the balancer of all the other forces, the sustainer of life. For example, the spleen and stomach, which are concerned with the basic life-sustaining function of digestion and assimilation in the body, are considered Earth in Chinese medicine.
Thus, all that there is in the universe can be categorized into the five elemental energy manifestations, by taking the qualities of the object considered and recognizing that qualitative relationship to the Five Principles.
The Six cannot be so easily categorized in the material world for they refer to more subtle levels of universal energies. They categorize the qualities of Yin and Yang as great Yin, balanced Yin, diminishing Yin, great Yang, bright Yang and diminished Yang.
Since all the Qi of the channels is one or another of these qualities, this is important in Chinese medical diagnosis, but has little other practical value. The Ten Thousand Things is a reference to the material world. - pages 9-10
Excerpts from 'Tao and T'ai Chi Kung' by Robert C. Sohn, used by permission.