Early one morning, a few months after starting kindergarten, my daughter, Jenna, grabbed some crayons and white paper and snuggled up next to me on our living-room couch. "What should I draw, Daddy?" she asked.
How about a picture of you playing soccer?" I suggested, knowing how excited she was to be starting her first-ever season. The idea appealed to her, so she got to work while I continued typing on my laptop. Before long, she'd rendered a green field, a red and yellow goal, and a uniformed girl looking down at a black ball. "I don't know what else to draw," she said.
"What's the weather like out there on the soccer field?"
"The sun's shining and there are some clouds. Good idea, Daddy!"
"Want to know a cool way to draw clouds?" I asked.
"Color the sky everywhere the clouds aren't."
Long pause. Her forehead furrowed. Then, suddenly, her eyes sparkled with delight, registering a predawn dawning. "Yes!" Two clouds appeared in an expanse of blue. An epiphany! She'd grasped the presence of absence: not-being giving rise to being. Her first Taoist revelation, her first taste of what Zen Buddhists call nondualistic thinking--recognizing the necessary connections, rather than the obvious divisions, between seeming opposites.
Centuries ago, Taoist philosophers--Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and others--wrote about the interplay of opposites in the process of change. They viewed polarities as mutually defining expressions of the…