JCCC Honors Journal


The history of Daoist expression can at times seem segmented and contradictory, making it challenging to achieve a truly holistic understanding of the discourse. However, in all the variety of interpretation regarding the Dao there exists an unchanged and carefully constructed cosmology. In the article, this cosmology is presented as a discourse on the nature of duality. Because the nature of the Dao is absolute unity, a chaotic and changing existence such as we have must necessarily be created by the movements between opposing forces. It is the interplay of all duality that creates a material world of day and night, life and death. The dual forces that gave rise to the cosmos are in essence the same as those that gave rise to the mind. It is within the synchronicity of all movements that the Dao can be found, the primordial pattern of return which governs all things. To understand Daoist expression is to understand that duality does not signify separation or competition. Dual forces are instead perfect compliments of each other, each necessary to provide the other with meaning. It is the complimentary nature of duality that creates the absolute unity of the Dao. The interplay of dualities and the unifying pattern to which they belong find their apex of expression in the notion of immortality. To identify how these metaphysical themes are interpreted differently, the article examines conceptions of immortality as either achievable figurative understanding or true physical eternal life.