On my website and on my literature, I have a symbol that many people know as the Yin Yang symbol. The correct name for it is the Taijitu symbol.
The Taijitu symbol is the universal symbol of the religion known as Taoism and is also often used by non-Taoists to represent the concept of opposites existing in harmony.
Yin is the black side with the white dot on it and yang is the white side with the black dot on it. The relationship between yin and yang is often described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and in the valley. Yin (literally the ‘shady place’ or ‘north slope’) is the dark area occluded by the mountain’s bulk, while yang (literally the ‘sunny place’ or ‘south slope’) is the brightly lit portion. As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.
The Taijitu is one of the oldest and best-known life symbols in the world, but few understand its full meaning. It represents one of the most fundamental and profound theories of ancient Taoist philosophy. At its heart are the two poles of existence, which are opposite but complementary. The light, white Yang moving up blends into the dark, black Yin moving down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural cycle, always seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are not in opposition to one another. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black spot of Yin in the white Yang and vice versa. They do not merely replace each other but actually become each other through the constant flow of the universe.
It is impossible to talk about yin or yang without some reference to the opposite, since yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (e.g. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things.
Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall. Thus, a seed will sprout from the earth and grow upwards towards the sky – an intrinsically yang movement. Then, when it reaches its full potential height, it will fall .
Yin and Yang are not opposing forces, but complementary opposites, unseen and seen that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.
Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time.
Examples of Yin:
- Night time
- Nutritive forces
- Cooling Water
- Nutritive Sleep
- Serenity of mind/peace
Examples of Yang:
- Metabolic Activity
- Heat association
- Pain association
There is a lot more to Yin and Yang than what I’ve covered here. I will expand on the concept of Yin and Yang and how it relates to Chinese medicine in future blog articles.
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