There’s a final thing that’s quite interesting about this symbol, and this is a mind bogglingly brilliant idea. Tao also means ‘the way’, and the Way is the line between the two. What that indicates is that the optimal position for a human being isn’t in chaos, or in order, because if it’s too much order then it’s totalitarian, and if it’s too much chaos then it’s disgust, and fear, and emotional pain and depression. So where’s the proper place? The Taoist answer is right on the line. One foot in order, so that you’re fairly stable, and another foot in chaos so that new, interesting, compelling and transformative things are happening to you. And one of the things you might note is that your nervous system basically tells you when you’re there, by making you interested in whatever you’re engaged in. The fact that the thing, whatever it is that you’re interested in grips you, which is quite an unconscious process – you can’t really control that, it’s something that happens to you, is that your nervous system, which is adapted to an environment of chaos and order, is telling you that if you’re engaged and interested, you are in the place where this balance of chaos and order is perfect.
Think about it: there’s no use reading a paper that you can’t understand, even though hypothetically this paper would be very informative to you. But you can’t understand it, it’s all chaos to you. And then there’s abolutely no reason reading a paper for the tenth time if you’ve already extracted all the information out of it, it’s going to be boring. You want a paper that you can almost understand. So that the cognitive frameworks you have at hand are sufficient for you to take the next step into the unknown. Books, movies, conversations, even lines of thought do that. If they’re exactly at the right level of complexity for you, they’re going to engage you.