In the beginning is wuji 無極 – an undifferentiated Unity, beyond vibration.
From this emerges taiji 太極 – vibration/qi and its complementary aspects of Ying and Yang. This stage represents the emergence of duality/polarity out of the Unity. The continual transformations of Yin & Yang fuel the flow of qi.
From this dance of Yin and Yang emerges the five elements 五行: wood (lesser yang), fire (greater yang), metal (lesser yin), water (greater yin), and earth (central phase).
Also produced here are the eight trigrams – Bagua 八卦-- which form the 64 hexagrams of the Yijing (I Ching). This stage represents the formation, from the initial Yin/Yang duality, of the elemental constituents of the phenomenal world.
From the five elements come the “ten-thousand things 万物,” i.e. all of manifest existence, all of the inhabitants of the world that we experience.