Yin and Yang – Part 3

Today I’m going to write a little more about Yin and Yang and how it fits in with Chinese philosophy. Through this, I hope to show the thinking behind Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

Chinese philosophy and thinking is very different to Western thinking.

To understand Chinese medicine and acupuncture it is helpful to try to understand Chinese philosophy. It differs vastly from Western philosophy and isn’t really discussed in the West.

Because of the influence of Yin Yang theory on Chinese thought and culture, the Chinese understand and explain events differently to the West.

The idea of causation, central to Western thinking is almost entirely absent. In the West we want to know the cause or the why of something. For the Chinese however, phenomena occur independently of an external act of creation and there is no great need to search for a cause.

In Chinese thought, events and phenomena unfold through a kind of spontaneous co-operation; an inner dynamic in the nature of Things.

The Chinese assume that the universe is constantly changing. Its movement is the result not of a first cause or creator, but of an inner dynamic of cyclical patterns.

Just as the sun maps out four distinct seasons in it’s yearly round, so all biological orgamisms go through four seasons in a lifetime: birth, maturation, decline, and death.

The constancy of the universe is in these patterns of change, which are regular. The universe itself is an integral whole, a web of interrelated things and events. Within this web of relationships and change, any entity can be defined only by its function, and has significant only as part of the whole pattern or picture.

This emphasis on the perception of patterns is basic to Chinese thinking. It results in part from Taoism which altogether lacks the idea of a creator and whose concern is insight into the web of phenomena, not the creator. For the Chinese, that web has no creator.

In the West the final concern is always the creator or cause and the phenomenon is only a reflection of the cause or creator. The Western mind seeks to discover and encounter what is beyond, behind or the cause of phenomena.

In the Chinese view, the truth of things is always imminent or a sure thing – in The Western view, truth is always moving and is not constant. Knowledge within the Chinese framework consists in the accurate perception of the inner movement of the whole web of phenomena. The desire for knowledge is the desire to understand the interrelationships or patterns within that web and to become attuned to the unfolding dynamic.

The Chinese philosophy is to look at the whole picture. Life happens and things will continue to occur regardless of the initial cause or creator. Becoming attuned to the patterns is what’s important, not understanding what caused them or why

How does the above relate to acupuncture?

In acupuncture we strive to understand the patterns within an individual. We look for the patterns of disharmony and use our skills to restore health by achieving balance and harmony. There is no standard level of harmony that can be measured– what is healthy for one person is sickness for another – everyone is different. The balance is a dynamic equilibrium that is appropriate for the particular circumstances and development phases of a persons life. People change, circumstances changes – what’s right and balanced today, may not be right in a year’s time for someone.


It’s a very complex philosophy to understand. I hope though the little article I have given an understanding of Yin and Yang and how it relates to Chinese philosophy and how this translates to healing within acupuncture.

Until next time, take care,


For more information on acupuncture in Dublin, Ireland see www.theacuzone.com