In this universe (or any other for that matter), this world in which we live, life may be grasped, perceived and experienced through three basic or fundamental modalities: Oneness, Duality, and Multiplicity. Through the concept of Oneness all life is viewed as having its origin in and being a reflection of divine Oneness, the one true primal source of all Creation. Through the concept of Duality all life is seen as an endless interplay between an infinite set of polarities or polar opposites. The third concept, Multiplicity, may be seen as a form of synthesis between the former two where the generating energies of Oneness and the formative aspects of Duality combine to give birth to a virtually infinite range of physical manifestation.
In one of the Eastern world’s leading religious disciplines and one of the Eastern world’s leading metaphysical and philosophical schools, Hinduism and Taoism, respectively, we find a parallel conceptualization which may be loosely termed as pre-Creation. In Hinduism, this pre-creative “non-state” is referred to as the Void. In Taoism, this indefinable non-corporeality is referred to as the Tao. Also in Hinduism there is a concept of an ultimate divine abstract creative source or potential termed as Brahman. Although according to Taoists the Tao itself is incomprehensible it may be seen or viewed as the primary “first cause” of all Creation. This primary manifestation of Creation is known to Taoists simply as “the One”. This concept of Oneness may be an allusion to the concept in cosmology of the cosmic ether or the concepts in physics of the quantum vacuum, zero-point energy and zero-point energy fields. In this instance particularly a reference to an all-pervading, universal life-generating energy/field may be a metaphysical reference to the scientific principle of the basic creative potential universal ground state of the cosmos.
According to Hinduism, at the appointed time, from within the vast sea of potential that was Brahman there arose a sea manifest and within this cosmic sea appeared a great serpent. Astride this great serpent rode a sleeping Vishnu. As Vishnu slept astride the serpent the totality of the cosmic sea began to reverberate with the divine transcendent vibration of the syllable “om”, the ultimate essence of Brahman. Upon receiving this divine vibration Vishnu awoke and from his naval grew a lotus and as it opened from the lotus emerged Brahma. Vishnu then informed Brahma that it was time to form Creation. Brahma then proceeded to divide the lotus into three pieces from which he created the heavens, the sky and the earth. Therefore, in Hinduism Brahma is seen as the Creator aspect of Brahman. Vishnu is named the Preserver. A third aspect of Brahman, rounding out the trinity, is Shiva the Destroyer. If one correlated these three aspects of Hindu divinity with aspects of physics one could relate Brahma with Space and Matter, Vishnu with the properties/laws of physics and Shiva as the aspect of cyclical Time. According to Hinduism the cosmos is continuously involved in an eternal cycle of creation versus destruction through the course of eternal cyclical Time. Brahma and Shiva are involved in a continuous, endless dance of creation and destruction, in which the universe is endlessly born, thrives, dies and is then reborn. In Hinduism this cyclical process of the birth, death and the eventual rebirth of the universe is called samsara. Brahma creates, Vishnu preserves and Shiva destroys and the cycle is eternally repeated.
In Taoism, the ineffable Tao is the philosophical equivalent of the Hindu Brahman. The Tao is “no-thing”, residing “no-where” in an eternal yet timeless infinity. Yet from this “no-thingness” sprang “the One” of Taoism. From this Oneness, once it began to differentiate itself, sprang “the two”. In many philosophies, especially within those affiliated with Eastern religion and mysticism, “the two” are thought of in terms of the polarity of Yin and Yang. A centerpiece of Chinese and Taoist philosophy, the concepts of Yin and Yang represent the cyclical feminine and masculine aspects and nature of the universe. The Yin and Yang polarity represents a pair of universal complimentary polar opposites with each pole containing the seed of the other. The Yin and the Yang are seen as the two primary cosmic energies/principles endlessly interacting, the one forever flowing and morphing into the other.
Here follows a listing of 13 of the most powerful and influential aspects of the Yin and Yang duality which work to comprise, shape and define existence:
In terms of pure physics the Yin principle embodies the spatial aspect of the universe and the magnetic aspect of the EM field. The Yang principle in turn embodies the time aspect of the universe and the electric aspect of the EM field. This space/time duality of the Yin Yang polarity works to characterize “the two” of the unfolding of the Tao. From the next step of the Tao’s unfolding, “the two” begets “the three”. Therefore, in Taoism, “the One” can be seen to represent the primal “energy” of Creation, “the two” can be seen to represent the Yin/Yang “space/time” polarity and “the three” can be seen to represent the physical aspect of the universe, namely “matter”. From the interaction of these three aspects of the Tao, “the One” (energy), “the two” (space and time) and “the three” (physical matter) are begotten “the 10,000 things” or the physical universe itself. This manifestation of the myriad number of forms within the physical universe constitutes or embodies the essence of the third modality of existence: Multiplicity. All three modalities of existence: Oneness, Duality and Multiplicity are therefore elegantly expressed in this passage from Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching:
Tao produced the One.
The One produced the two.
The two produced the three.
And the three produced the ten thousand things.