What is the Meaning of the Yin Yang ?
“The heart of human being is no different from the soul of heaven on earth. In your practice keep your thoughts in the flow of heaven and earth, water and fire, yin and yang.”
- Morihei Ueshiba founder of aikido
☯ Yin Yang is part of Chinese tradition. It is the archaic chinese black and white sign of tranquility and harmony which tell us about the fact that life is harmonizing and balancing act and we can only seek it when we accept its dualities, pros and cons, good times and bad times, amusements and threats.
In order to master the art of living, one has to accept the dark with light.
Ancient people were really curious in knowing the odd patterns and the relationship between different things occurring in nature. Instead of studying things in the box or in isolation they preferred spending their time in knowing the nature’s balance and studied world as congenial and comprehensive entity.
1) Meaning Of Yin Yang
The word Yin refers to the shady side and Yang refers to sunny side. It is an idea of duality that makes a whole. They were known first time in Xice or Yijing. Dao is known to be succession of yin and yang.
If anything needs to be divided into two halves, two parts of that body then those halves that complete wholeness will be yin and yang.
Yin and yang also start a thing or they are known to be initiating points of something. When something is completed or whole it means it is unchangeable so when something is being separated into two halves like yin and yang it disturbs the whole body at equilibrium ⚖️.
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Both halves chase each other until they attain the equilibrium position again. In other words both are interdependent and the way of contrasting things. If we take two things, one is going to be yin and other one is going to be yang.
There are three general concepts on which whole Yin Yang theory is based:
- Yin-Yang tells that there is coherence in the mind and nature that can be seen in all the things that exist
- Yin-Yang is a link between cosmos and human
- Yin-Yang is harmonization process
Some of the prominent daily life examples are:
- Growing of wheat is yang and after it has been reaped, that is yin
- The crest of the wave is yang while the trough of the waves is yin
- Brakes in the cars are yin while the pedal is yang
- Shell of the egg is yang and the part of the egg inside is yin
- Water flowing in the river is yin and in case if it becomes water fall that is yang
2) Yin Yang Symbol Explained
The earliest symbol of Ying-Yang concealed within the mist of antiquity. As it is believed to be evolved through different diagrams with the passage of time.
The ancient chinese used to do an art called Xiang which was imaginary diagram making. The goal of those diagrams was to create the patterns of universe as per according to the vision of yiging.
Yin yang symbol has been divided into two sides each of which has one dot. The white paisley has black dot and the black side has white dot ☯️.
The Dark side has seed of goodness and so is it with the light side. There is a line at the middle by which two sides are being separated called Dao which means “the way”.
It tell us that the perfect position for a human is neither in chaos or in order but rather in need to have both in impeccable manner to attain stability.
The nature of yin yang is:
- None of both either yin or yang is absolute
- Yin yang is non-static
- Combination of Yin and Yang forms a whole
A. What is Yin ?
Yin is the word of Chinese language which refers to the female convention of universe, negative and dark ♀️.
Yin is usually characterized as the inbound energy that is still yet destroying.
Yin in broader term is black, north, passive, earth(weakness and goddess), moon, water(metamorphosis), even numbers, old, cold, soft, valleys, poor and provision of spirit to all the things and approaches its clout and peak with winter pinnacle.
It’s vital for both yin and yang to work in balance for each other because even the imbalance of one of them might disturb the whole cycle of life.
Daily life examples of Yin:
- Day and night - Rotation of earth shows a cycle. Night and days come in correspondence to each other with the proper pattern. In this cycle the example of Yin is night because it has those properties related to yin.
- Masculine and feminine - Though both words look opposite to each other and seemingly they are completely antipodes but actually they are deeply linked. Feminine is the yin element because it appears to be weak and feeble.
- Spectrum of energy - Hot and cold referring to yang and yin respectively, represent the opposite spectrum of energy. Cold is Yin that needs collaboration of yang to make itself impactful.
- In martial arts - In martial arts there are two basic principles, attack and defense as all of vortexes of human energy rotates around them. When you defend yourself, you become more receptive and might be using the force of your opponent which actually makes it Yin.
- In home - In our home some areas are cold, soft and relaxing, they are perfect examples of Yin.
B. What is Yang ?
Yang is the Chinese word referring to outgoing energy, masculine, hot and bright ♂️.
Masculinity is the active rule in the nature that means heat and dryness and with the combination of yin it produces all what is needed.
In broader way we can say that yang is masculine, light, fire(resourcefulness and inspiration), sun(vigor and God), warm, odd numbers, rich, white, south, active, heaven, young, mountains, hard and the results or provisions from all the things.
Yang reaches at its peak with the influence of extreme summers. It is represented by the dragon and blue color. Solid line trigram is its diagrammatical representations.
Some of the daily life examples of Yang in the same sequence as that of yin are as follow:
- Day and night - Day is yang because it is more workable and has more brightness.
- Masculine and feminine - Masculine is yang because yang is all about power and strength that a masculine holds more as compare to feminine.
- Spectrum of energy - In the spectrum of hot and cold, hot represents yang which needs to work in collaboration of yin to give it an impact.
- In martial arts - Within the two principles of martial arts that are defense and attack, attacking is yang because it is powerful act that uses its own energy instead of defending.
- In home - The places that are hard and working in the home are perfect examples of yang at home.
3) History and Origin of the Yin Yang
Concept of Yin-Yang leads us to the way back as there are written records about them I.e 1400-1100 BCE in yin dynasty and 1100-771 BCE in western Zhou Dynasty.
Taoists (or Daoist) believe in the concept that universe is being created by the energies, matter and vibrations that behave differently from one another. Something can be yin or yang depending on a lot of things.
This concept become trendy by the work of Chinese school of Yin-Yang which starts to study the philosophy of cosmology 🔭.
It is said that yin-yang started based on two terms yin and yang which described geographic plans earlier with respect to sunny side of the mountain called yang and shady side of the mountain called yin. Later it leads to classification of all the things existing.
4) Yin Yang in Chinese Culture
🇨🇳 In Chinese mythology, birth of Yin and Yang is as old as this universe and they are in harmony on the center of earth. When universe was being created, the balance was made in the cosmic egg which allowed birth of first human being named Pangu.
Moreover, First gods known to be Fuxi, Shennong and Nuwa were born by yin-Yang. According to Chinese religion, Confucianists favor Yang although Taoists favor Yin in maintaining the prime focus of their specific philosophies.
Taoists focus on solitude while confucianists trust in their role and importance in life.
Villages in the china that are on sunny side were named as luke, lingyang and shiyang showing yang impact but on contrary to that shady sides were named as jiangyin which shows yin impact.
5) Philosophy of Yin Yang
Philosophy of yin-yang is deeply fixed in Chinese history and culture, it exemplifies the combination of all the things that are in existence.
Peace and equality in both yin and yang is must in life. The philosophy is mainly designed on biological interconnection in female and male.
Chinese philosophers and sages asserts that there's an coherence in everything that seem to be opposite in nature making it a way of observing the Universe.
Though there is a misconception that when there was no darkness and no light a cosmic egg formed. The pengu(hero) was sleeping in the egg and at that time yin-yang forces were steady so when the hero awake the egg cracked and it segregated the yin-yang forces.
By this earth and heavens were extended. As the growth of Pengu stopped, he departed his life and his body eventually set off as the ten thousand things of universe.
His breath, left eye, right eye, blood became winds, clouds, sun, moon, ocean, and rivers respectively.
Although the advancement of civilizations utterly rejected this theory but the ying-yang concept still lies in the birth of Universe. Scientists considered the Big Bang as the universe beginning and when we compare it in term of cosmos, everything indeed affect each other.
It is now widely acknowledged that there's a connection between human activity and cosmos and it's guided by yin yang principle.
Universe is controlled by forces which oppose each other but are supportive too so that is responsible for world sustainability and variation.
A. Yin Yang in Tai Chi or Taijiquan
The concept of Yin and Yang philosophy is that everything in this universe, may it ben item, idea or procedure, occurs as indivisible yet opposite forms i.e. male-female, old-young, dark-light, up-down, earth-sky.
The given examples like up-down, dark-light are opposing yet complementing each other and give meaning to each other.
If there was no up ,there would be no down, similarly, if there was no dark there would be no light and vice versa. One of the two opposing aspects is called Yin and the other is called Yang 😉.
In the above discussed examples dark and down are Yin whereas, light and up are Yang. Yin and Yang are two sides or features of same unity.
Tai Chi symbol is used to express this unity in diagrammatic form. The word Tai Chi is also written as "Tai Chi Chuan","Taijiquan" or "Taiji".
Tai Chi is also called as Cosmos. This diagram is flawlessly aligned from all angles. The idea of Yin Yang and the Tai Chi symbol is not only used in martial arts but in medicine, astrology, alchemy, divination, geomancy and Taoist philosophy as well 🔮.
In Martial Arts Yin Yang can be; inhaling-exhaling, offensive-defensive, bendind-extending, retreating-advancing ,leading-attacking etc.
For example in a fight between two opponents; bending can be Yang as offensive and extending can be Yin as defensive. Applying the Yin Yang theory in Taijiquan martial arts will enable you to understand the opponent but the opponent will not understand you 🥋.
B. Yin Yang in Feng Shui
According to the philosophy of Feng Shui, definition of yin and yang mainly focus on achieving the balance between opposites.
Assessment of yin-yang energies can be done in home by the Feng Shui principles. Moreover there are certain remedies and cures to balance chi energy.
Theory of yin yang is thus one out of the other governing forces of Feng Shui applications. A room with a lot of yin can be recognized. In such cases feeling of lethargy can be seen prominently.
Ataxia is one of main causes of yin energy which cause the blockage of the natural flow of chi energy responsible for creating imbalance of yin-yang energy in room.
Decluttering is most effective in terms of removing blockage and it also allows the balance of chi energy.
The Feng Shui’s philosophy of yin Yang further defines balancing energies by the use of five elements that the nature has.
Feng Shui yin-yang is theory that wholeness is made up of opposites like male and female, hot and cold, day and night etc... The definite objective is to keep the opposing forces in balance with dwelling.
Following things can be done for balancing the chi energy and for the balancing of yin-yang
- Adjust light and brightness - By keeping in view the fact that brightness is yang and darkness is yin yin-yang can be adjusted. E.g. bedroom is a place for relaxing where you need more yin energy.
- By the use of colors - Brighter colors are yang and darker colors are yin.
- By controlling sound levels - Silence is yin and noise is yang, so their levels can be adjusted according to the area.
- By the clout of humidity - Humidity is yin and dryness is yang. E.g. the guest room area should have high humidity for the compilation of yin energies.
- By keeping pets - Presence of cats and dogs are believed to bring life and positive energies or yang energies. It is good for joint family. And for those who live alone, Yin energy is good.
- By adjusting temperature - When it comes to temperature, warmth is yang and coolness is yin. So balance can be made with artificial room energy or cooling sources.
Feng Shui is in charge of finding a balance to achieve well-being and fortune.
C. Yin Yang in I-Ching
Different diagrams were made by the Chinese imaginary diagram makers. The purpose of them was to make patterns of universe according to I-Ching.
I-Ching, also known as Yi jing is divine text based on transformations. It is precursor of Chinese culture and philosophy. Yi jing is manual containing answers of most of the questions one may have.
There are 64 hexagrams with the yin and yang lines, covering all structures with the possible changes in them. The dynamic hexagram means something and so does its lines when they change either from yin to yang or from yang to yin.
The whole hexagram and its interpretations changes with change in the position of the yin or yang line.
I-ching uses eight trigrams by combination of pairs into 64 hexagrams. Hexagrams are representations of state of affairs, and I-ching is consultation of one’s questions for the answer 📖.
Improvisation in this regard is carried out by compilation process or by throwing three coins. Thus three coins will be 6’7’8 or 9. The number 6 and 9 show old yin and yang called changing lines.
Old line change into opposite for giving us two hexagrams first representing state of affairs and second representing future state of affairs or answers of questions in other way.
Changing line are represented by for 9 and for 6 by. Text of i-Ching describes significance of each hexagram.
Each trigram made according to I-ching has name, image and attributes. E.g and oldest son, chen is formed as a result of line taken by kun from ch’ien and so it replaces lowest line. Chen is image of thunder and quake ⚡.
It seems like an empty bowl. Attributes related to it are movement and the reason that movement is happening.
Dispersion of things like water and seeds is provoked when chien replaces its lowest line with the divided line from kun who is oldest daughter sun.
In short, According to I-Ching, there is balance needed between the poles for constant flux of universe in general. When there is imbalance between yin and yang, catastrophes happen like droughts, plagues, floods 🌊 etc...
D. Yin Yang in Taoism
The symbol of yin-yang has its roots in Taoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy. Yin is associated with the shadows and dark swirl whereas yang is associated with light swirl and brightness.
Yin yang is the idea of Taoism which tells us about duality of all things existing in nature.
According to Taoism, there are certain universal principles for yin-yang
- Yin and Yang are opposites but they are not absolute. This philosophy is applicable for everything that exists.
- There is yin within yang and yang within in. this complements the previous principle which affirms that in each of them their opposite is present.
- Both the forces yin and yang generate and consume each other
- Yin-yang can be subdivided or transformation can also occur
- Yin and Yang depend on each other.
According to Taoism, Body is miniature of universe that has Tao. Body parts have their counterparts in universe. It was said that:
“The body, as much as the larger universe, is ruled and lived in by the gods - the multifaceted manifestations of spirit, the visible and accessible aspect of the Tao on earth.”
- Livia Kohn, the Taoist Experience: Anthology,1993
E. Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine
In Chinese traditional medicine, yin-yang is the base for knowing about one’s health as well as for the diagnosing and treatment.
In case of human body, Yin is linked with the lower body parts while yang has its associations with upper body parts.
By Interconnectivity of yin and yang it is concluded that disease are states of yin-yang imbalance. Interconnectivity is known as group of four opposites collectively called eight principles.
Yin-yang has constant flux. In case of disturbance of one other also become imbalance. E.g. Yin is cold and its excessiveness can cause illness like insomnia or dry mouth and yang can cause cold limbs ❄️.
Thus good health is maintained by balancing of both. Yin-yang support the human body system.
Holistic and integral medicinal practices are done for encouragement of human body healing process. Traditional Chinese medicine applies eight principle patterns of disharmony in pair pattern. E.g interior and exterior to attain the diagnosis.
Applications for the Future
Epidemics of modern diseases like heart disease obesity and blood pressure are over the globe. Yin-yang theory would consider these symptoms of huge cultural and social issues.
The theory of yin yang further can be expanded into the technology application and medicine in the treatment of disease. Instead of doing an isolated treatment yin-yang suggests us an approach of balancing the entire system.
By balancing the yin yang forces we can cultivate the secrets of life like never before. Argue less for the faster and speedy progress in life. Do not worry about being perfect and the best, be who you are and live a simple life because complications take you far away from Tao.
Tao says, “the wise person is flexible.”
☯ Taoism is learning to use Tao in perfect way that’s the reason you should know your yin from the yang.
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