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Mysterious Chinese Characters (6): Yi, the number “one”- Most Profound Philosophy Hidden in the Simplest

Character: Yi

Among the tens of thousands of highly complicated Chinese characters, 一 (yī) is the simplest, and also the first children are taught. The majority of Chinese people most commonly use the 一 as character for the number “one.” Yet, very few are aware of the profound philosophy that is hidden in this, the simplest of all characters.

一 actually symbolizes Chinese philosophy’s understanding of the creation of the universe. According to mythology, before the creation of the world, an inexplicable amorphous mass existed. This mass burst into separate parts, from which emerged different kinds of matter.

The Taoist theory explains the creation of the cosmos similar to the above. They say that all life was created from the One, which is in eternal harmony, and from which everything else was created. Before female (陰 yīn) and male (陽 yáng), only the One existed as the original power; the Entirety, the Tao.

When the universe divided into yin and yang, the light energy rose up, and the heavy energy sank to the bottom. There is still evidence of this partition in nature. For example, look into the distance and notice the clear separation of heaven and earth at the horizon.

Based on the teachings of Lao Tzu (the author of the Taoist classic the Tao Te Ching), humans cannot separate themselves from the Tao, that is, from the origin of life. As consequence, by ignoring this truth, one’s existence will be destroyed and obliterated.

The Tao is viewed as the source of the universe, and this means that humans and human society must attempt to draw closer to the Tao, to be truthful in everyday life, and to always do everything based on the truth. Only thus will one return to ones origin and to the truth, and finally become a “true man” (真人 zhēnrén). (The Epochtimes)

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