|What is Yin-Yang?|
|A starting definition: The nature of change, balanced as two halves of a whole.|
|Yin and Yang is perhaps the most known and documented concept used within Taoism.
Yin and Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. We encounter examples of Yin and Yang every day. As examples: night (Yin) and day (Yang), female (Yin) and male (Yang). Over thousands of years quite a bit has been sorted and grouped under various Yin and Yang classification systems.
This image has come to symbolize Yin and Yang, to the point that most everyone references this symbol as “Yin and Yang” directly.
Theory on origin of Taijitu symbol.
Yin and Yang illustrated from the Tao Te Ching When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Diving Deeper into Yin and Yang
A few basic concepts which define the nature of Yin and Yang are:
Now forget everything you have learned about Yin and Yang for a moment. Step back from all the descriptions and classifications of Yin and Yang to consider the following passage from the Tao Te Ching:
The Way begot one, And the one, two; Then the two begot three And three, all else.
A clearer understanding of Yin and Yang requires looking back into the Tao. The Tao can be considered as the fundamental absolute. Upon examination: the nature of the Tao expands out. This process of expansion defines a pattern, splitting apart into finer and finer patterns. Yin and Yang is the point where perception demarks the Tao’s expansion from one into two.
Taoism as a practice enjoys examining patterns. Over the years countless sects of Taoism have formed and quite a bit of literature written over the delineation and description of these patterns. Often times Taoists use the concept of Yin and Yang as a familiar starting template to work with patterns.
For example Qigong is based upon the patterns of breath and physical movement. Knowledge of bodily patterns forms the basis of this Taoist practice to keep a body healthy. The human body and its movements are divided according to Yin and Yang categories. So the upper body corresponds to the Yang, while the lower body roots into the Yin. The body’s center is where the Yin and Yang meet. Qigong exercises are grouped and explained in terms of Yin and Yang to help classify the body’s harmonies into a working practice. Knowledge of Yin or Yang isn’t required to perform Qigong, instead it’s an additional filter which helps people connect to the practice.
Another example is Taoist divination within the Book of Changes / I Ching. Divination in Taoism is a practice of examining human interactions based on well known psychological patterns. To generate a result either coins or yarrow stalks are tossed down to form a pattern. The patterns generated correspond to Yin and Yang defined qualities. The nature of the Yin and Yang pattern are applied against the psychology of the moment to return advice for the person asking the question.
Yin and Yang is a fundamental aspect of Taoist thought. We always naturally apply human based values over naturally occurring patterns. However, remember it’s also important not to chase finer and finer descriptions of these patterns, to do so would be to chase down infinity.
Yin and Yang is a system of recognizing how to seperate out patterns in our life while also relaxing to accept the overall whole and complete nature of the Tao.