The Balance of Yin and Yang

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Dec 271989

The most ancient of Chinese theological concepts is the belief in a universal order, emeshed in constant turmoil and change, within which man must seek harmony. This idea of universal order is epitomized in the Dao, or “the Way.” The Dao, an impersonal force or power controlling the flow of destiny, must be understood and mastered in order for the future to be anticipated and harmony amid change to be achieved. There are, unfortunately, infinite changes within the Dao, so the Chinese had to explain the way that change is qualified and how it portends or affects the future. This need bred the concepts of Yin and Yang.

The first, Yin—the black half of the Yin-Yang—meant, originally, “covered by clouds.” It represents all in the universe which is dark, hidden, or secret. Therefore, it symbolizes the uncomfortable cold of winter, the reserved and secretive female, and the base Earth. Conversely, Yang, the white, represents all that is bright and shiny in the world. It is the warmth and blossom of summer, the bright light of the sun, the open male, and the enlightened heavens. The relationship between these two extremes make up Change in the universe.

Both Yin and Yang are constituents or the basic spiritual fiber of everything. Therefore, their relative blending in a particular moment or instance dictates the nature of that instance or change, be it Yin or Yang. Furthermore, this relative nature can reveal a blueprint or schematic of the future repercussions of the instance. Now, the symbolism of the Yin and Yang could lead one to believe that all that is Yin is “bad” and all that is Yang is “good.” Although acting according to Yang is favored by Daoists, it is an accepted fact that the whole system itself is intrinsically good—including the Yin: it is of the Dao and is therefore the proper order. Both of the halves are needed to make a whole, and it is the balance between the two which determines the absolute rightness or wrongness of an event or thing.

Therefore, the core of the world order expressed by Dao and explained by the Yin and Yang is balance. The Daoists realize the importance of finding the middle road between frigid cold and searing heat, between blind darkness and dazzling light. Therein lies the harmony of the Dao: this balance. A white dot in the Yin half of the circle and a black dot in the Yang half represent the imperative need to blend the two components of life into a blissful harmony amid change. Therefore, the controlling feature of this regulating concept is the balance. Without a proper blend of Yin and Yang, change is wrong, properly blended, and change is progress.

December 17, 1989