Some philosophies hold to the former – most to the latter, believing that Yin and Yang is the first universal law of nature. Certainly all religions and philosophies recognise the early creation of opposites. The Bible, which forms the basis of much of the Western tradition, records the creation of the opposite’s heaven and earth and light and darkness, in Genesis Chapter 1 –
“In the beginning God created heaven and earth… and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said let there be light and there was light… and God divided the light from the darkness.”
One philosopher who held that Yin and Yang came first was Lao- who stated that everything in the universe arose from the great ultimate source or Tai Chi as represented by the symbol. The term Tai Chi means the grand ultimate. The Tai Chi symbol is a mandala - a symbolic figure which, in the shape of a circle, is said to represent the cosmos. This symbol is displayed in many ways however there is only one correct way that it can be demonstrated. The mandala is said to reveal the meaning of life on many levels; the circle being equated to the universe while everything that exists within it, within the universe, may be divided into the two categories, Yin and Yang. This is where seemingly disjunct or opposing forces are in fact interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. Each giving rise to the other in turn.
The concept of Yin and Yang is, like Feng Shui, closely allied to Taoism, with its great emphasis on balance and harmony; its oneness with nature through intuitive knowledge and harmony. This harmony and oneness may be seen through the Yin and Yang, which constitutes the Tao or ‘The Way’.
All of Chinese metaphysics rely on the principle of yin and yang as a fundamental precept. Many Chinese beliefs and traditions, including Feng Shui, are based upon the principle of opposites as seen in Yin and Yang. This concept is a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, the Chinese martial arts, and exercise regimes such as chi gong.
In Feng Shui, we aspire not to go to extremes but to find a harmonious balance with nature. However, to achieve that balance we must be aware of the nature of all things around us – what is Yin and what is Yang.
Yin and Yang are seen as dependent opposites within a greater whole, always striving to be in balance, yet constantly pushing against each other. All things have both yin and yang aspects, which constantly interact with one another, never existing in absolute stasis. The opposites flow in a natural cycle; each replacing the other just like day and night, heat and cold and the seasons.
The Yin and Yang cycles move through active to passive and back again; from light to dark and back, from hot to cold to hot. Yang is generally seen as active and Yin as passive.
As mutually dependent opposites, Yin and Yang cannot exist without each other. Yet each defines the other. How would you know what was hot if you did not experience cold? Would you know what happiness was if you never knew sadness? Each comes and then it goes – in each is the seed of the other.
The emphasis of all eastern philosophy is about things being balanced and flowing, always in a state of change with a focus on acceptance. This is so dissimilar to western philosophy where things are considered to be black or white, right or wrong. Western philosophy operates in a culture of separation and disconnection, whereas in the east, opposites are seen to evolve and are cyclical with a focus on acceptance. In such philosophy nothing is either wholly right or wrong. There is merely balance, transformation, interaction and dependent opposition.
This is the philosophy of Yin and Yang – the dependent duality. Neither can exist without the other and yet by examining the figures in the circle, which look a little like fish – and you can see the seeds of the opposite in each of them.
We now recognise that within men there is a feminine element – a man’s “female side” and, similarly, within women there is a masculine “side.” In the heart of winter a seed lays in wait to become life; at the very height of summer the sun reaches its greatest declination and turns from the tropic to begin its journey into winter.
So the Tai Chi of Yin and Yang, like the Tao, follows the way of change in the sense that all life is constantly evolving and so what is now full will soon be empty and what is empty will become full. What goes up, must as some point, come down. Indeed the current global conditions are yin and yang at play; the effects of a system pushing the boundaries and in a state of hyperactivity, desperately needing to return to a state of equilibrium. Every day, though we remain the same person, we are different. We evolve and change according to the ‘way’ and the natural force of Chi or life force energy.
Though Yin and Yang are opposite in nature, they are also, at the same time, complementary. And each has the ability to accomplish or create the other. Great love has within it the seeds of great hate similarly hate may be turned to love. Yin and Yang is in everything - yet nothing is completely one or the other. Each of us have positive and negative characteristics and life is in a constant state of change, moving from one polarising force to another constantly shifting from Yin to Yang. An acceptance and ability to adapt to this natural cycle of life is critical to your success.