“In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
When man interferes with the Tao
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.”
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Houston Realtors who work with persons with a Chinese heritage often have to have one extra skill in their Realtors tool box–an understanding of Feng Shui, an ancient oriental art to insure health, happiness, and harmony. Feng Shui has its origins in Taoism, conceived by Lao Tzu, some 2500 years ago. Even though there are numerous expressions of Feng Shui, it is primarily related to the orientation of the home and its interior. It places great importance on the locations and orientations of rooms, shrubbery and the use of color.
For those of us who are not Asian, this may seem strange and even though we wouldn’t be as precise as followers of Feng Shui, we would still feel some hesitancy if our front door opened into our garage or bathroom or if we had a purple front door. Feng Shui is more nuanced than this. But it is partially about flow and is also about living a healthy and harmonious life.
Because of the large Chinese Asian community in Alief, Feng Shui has many followers and many would not think of buying a home or business location without considering Feng Shui. But Feng Shui is only one aspect of the larger consideration attributed to following the principals of Taoism. The Tao symbol above signifies the Yin and Yang or the balance between opposites.
The circular shape of the symbol represents the Tao. The intertwined pieces point us towards the inherent balance of two opposite forces of Yin and Yang. Yin represents (feminine, negative, and dark) and yang represents (masculine, positive, and bright). Neither can exist without the other such as day and night or birth and death. They are ever-changing, constantly flowing one into the other. The small dots in the middle of the larger tear drops symbolizes that even in the larger piece the opposite is also in the primary. Together they form a whole.
The yin and yang symbol reminds us of the nature of duality (a situation that has two states that are both complementary and opposed to each other.) These concepts are difficult for westerners to grasp. Our tendency is to see brute power as being privileged over acquiescence and submission. Even the concept of Love God and Love Neighbor seems too passive and unworkable to many Christians. Often the concept of loving neighbor just doesn’t seem very practical.
The challenge that Feng Shui and Taoism present to us is the question of how can a community as diverse as Alief, live in harmony with the different religions, languages and cultures. Maybe we can learn something from Taoism–that the opposites that we confront in our world, even though different can help us create a society that values the opposites resulting in harmony, respect and acceptance of the other. As a beginning point in this quest, consider forces in Alief that help create harmony and appreciation of the other. Then we can ask ourselves how we can build on those points of appreciation and make the negatives into positives.
One simple way is to know a neighbor. In a recent conversation with the manager of Sun Blossom Woods apartments in Alief, she said that she had encouraged her residents to meet at least their next door neighbor. She believed that this would help create community. But she said that she had very poor results from the effort but continues to work toward building a more relational community. Isolation and distrust works against the idea of harmony and reinforces the dark side of creation. In the coming year TMO will be working with her and the adjacent schools to build relationships that will be affirming and positive.
TMO builds relationships that enhance people’s lives