The Low Down on the Yin Yang

The concept of Yin Yang is one of the most important principles in Chinese metaphysics. The others include the principle of the Five Elements and the Bagua.

The ancient Chinese believe that in the beginning there is a state of nothingness or a void and they call it Wu Ji and it is symbolized by a circle.

Out of this nothingness come two primary energies which are the opposite of each other. One is active while the other is passive. The active energy is called yang while the passive energy is called Yin. The interaction of Yin and Yang energies is unending and neither is more important than the other.

The continuous interaction of Yin Yang is often depicted by the Tai Ji symbol. The black potion symbolizes the Yin energies while the white portion symbolizes the Yang energies.

The circular arrangement suggest the continuous cycle of interaction. The growing and contracting of the Yin and Yang suggest that a never ending cycle of change. The black dot in the Yang portion of the symbol suggests that when Yang reaches its maximum, yin starts to grow and vice versa.

In addition, the close contact between the Yin and Yang portion symbol suggest that both are important and equal and neither one is more important or conquer the other.

This concept of Yin Yang can be applied to everything. For example strong is Yang while Weak is Yin. Traits such as day, summer, sun, motion, white, angular, shiny for example can be classified as Yang while night, winter, moon, stillness, black, smooth and dull can be classified as Yin.

In the rest of this article, I will explain how Yin and Yang applies to the seasons, plants, objects, human beings, the Five Elements etc.

When applied to seasons, Yin is winter while Yang is summer. Spring is a period of increasing Yang while autumn is a period of increasing Yin.

When applied to plants, live plant is Yang while dead wood e.g. table and chair is Yin. Live plants can be further classified where a large tree is Yang and the small plant is Yin. Those with rounded leaves are Yin while those with narrow leaves are Yang.

When applied to objects those that are small, rounded, dull and cold to the touch is Yin. Those that are large, angular, shiny and warm to the touch are Yang. What about jewellery like tungsten rings which are both metallic and rounded? Since it’s a metal, and a dull metal, it maybe classified as yin while shiny gold is more yang.

In humans, the left brain (logic) is Yang while the right brain (creativity) is Yin. Those with boastful, loud, aggressive and impulsive personalities are Yin while those with shy, quiet, soft-spoken and patient personalities are Yang.

The human body can also be classified into Yin and Yang. The front and the part below the waist is Yin while the back and the part above the waist is Yang. The internal organs can be classified too. The heart, lung, liver, spleen and kidney are Yin while the small and large intestine, gall bladder, stomach and bladder are Yang organs.

What about spaces? The bedroom, study and storeroom are Yin. The living room, kitchen, family area and dining are Yang. Generally speaking those areas that require less noise and lighting where it is easier to concentrate or rest is Yin and vice versa.

Finally what about the Five Elements? You may have heard of Yin and Yang Water. Yin Water is one that is still and do not move. For example water in a jar. Yang Water on the other hand has movement such as a water fountain or aquarium.

Is the river Yin or Yang water? If you follow the course of a river from source to sea, you will notice that there are places where a river slows down considerable and also place where it accelerates. In general a river is yang but within Yang you have also places where it is more Yin (when it slows down) and places where it is more Yang (when it accelerates).


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