Numbers - 數字 - Shùzì
we are left with static proportions,
and the universe in stasis.
One gives birth to two, two to three,
and subsequently, millions upon millions.
One hundred and eight days of Tao,
the cycle thus far-
Constantly turning towards a new day
creating my own existence.
~Inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
Today is the 108th day of this Taoist journal. Why is this number important? Why are any numbers important in following Tao? Even in today's world, where numbers are most commonly yoked to economics and engineering, there are those who revere numbers with cheap mysticism, a form of superstition. Numbers form a closed world, with mysteries to uncover and exploit if one's understanding is deep enough.
Taoists emphasize certain numbers particularly: one represents unity of Tao, two duality, three unevenness (the generation of movement), four seasons, and five elements. The number six refers to the body, of which the arms, legs, trunk, and head are the respective parts. Seven is the waxing moon, by the lunar calender. Eight is divination, nine is life itself, and ten is heaven's cycles.
There are twenty four periods within a year, each with its own unique characteristics. 36 = 6(squared). One hundred and eight is three cycles of 36. The components are important, but so is the product, the greater cycle in which I had been an unwittingly participant. The esoteric connotations are often underestimated, overlooked.
Numbers, however, are still merely symbols, a way for us humans to project order upon the universe. Numbers represent a language more precise than words, but does the Tao need to speak? Numbers are important to master, but take care to look beyond merely words and numbers, to the stark reality they foreshadow.