What is yin yang means?
The concept of Yin & Yang lies at the basis of Taoist philosophy. It makes a lot of appearances in popular and consumer culture, representing things like balance and inner peace. But the profundity of yin and yang goes way beyond that. This mysterious philosophy may change our view of the universe forever when we get this bizarre philosophy.
This blog attempts to explain the deep meaning of yin & yang. The idea behind yin and yang is kind of paradoxical. The black and white stand for two opposing forces that are also complementary. This constant mutual attraction and repulsion cause constant change that manifests in what we call the universe.
Phenomena like life and death, winter and summer, and matter and emptiness are physical manifestations of yin and yang. Yin and yang can be translated as dark-light or negative-positive and are often referred to as masculine versus feminine.
What is the yin yang symbol indicates?
Especially in the ancient masterpiece written by Lao Tzu called the Tao Te Ching, we can see that he talks about the feminine, or the great mother, being the mysterious, receptive, and passive force represented by the black part of the yin yang symbol. The masculine, being the active force that is most visible and prominent, is represented by the white part.
Now, this isn’t meant to be sexist. The word feminine is a way to describe the characteristics of one opposite, while the masculine represents the other. Men and women possess yin and yang characteristics, which was also observed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who spoke about the unconscious male side of the woman – the hatred – and the cold feminine side of the man – the anima.
Moreover, when we look at the yin and yang symbol, we see a black dot in the white area and a white dot in the black room, representing the idea that both feminine and masculine carry the seed of one another.
What are the differences between yin and yang?
Before explaining this, it’s important to note that there are no absolutes. What’s yin or yang depends on the situation. Lao Tzu wrote that Being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short define each other. High and low oppose each other. Fore and aft follow each other.
Each example given has a yin and yang element in it. Both yin and yang complement each other. Yin represents a series of characteristics that are – generally – passive, empty, low, cold, and dark. Things like passivity and emptiness seem of little value, but they harbour an immense power, which I’ll talk about in a minute. We can describe yang as the active and masculine element generally found in things like light, warmth, height, fullness, aggression, and speed. So, if we look at the verses from the Tao Te Ching, we can say that long is considered yang, while short is considered yin.
Being is considered yang, while non-being is considered yin. This is because one cannot exist without the other, and whether one is yin or yang depends on the relationship between the two. Now, while yang functionality seems obvious, the value of yin is often overlooked, yet it contains tremendous power.
Example of yin yang
An excellent example to show this power is the functionality of a cup. The yang aspects of the cup are the material made of, which is most likely hard and dry material. So, what makes the helpful cup? The answer is its emptiness. Without emptiness, a cup can’t hold any liquids. If we look at the emptiness, we’ll see that it’s a vital part of everything we do. Without the void of the space around us, we can’t punch or shoot a soccer ball.
We can’t speak without emptiness in sound, and we can’t talk because we need pauses to separate the tones. We can’t enter a room that isn’t empty, and without the vast space in the universe, our solar system wouldn’t function. Another aspect of yin is its passivity. Society looks down on inactivity. It’s all about being proactive, getting results, going from point A to point B, and action over cessation.
Because of this, we generally lack respect for the passive element of life. This is strange when we think about it since passivity is essential for every form of accomplishment. Take strength training, for example. Muscles aren’t built in the gym; they’re built-in beds, on the couch, and in any situation where they don’t work so that the course of nature can rebuild the muscle tissue, so they turn out more substantial for the next lifting session.
Characteristics of yin and yang
A key characteristic of yin is receptiveness And because of its receptiveness, it attracts. We see this dynamic everywhere in nature, from flowers waiting to be pollinated by insects to a beautiful woman in a bar waiting for a man to make the first move and even a black hole that sits there without actively reaching out.
At the same time, its gravitational forces attract everything that comes nearby. Lao Tzu also describes yin as soft, comparing it to water concerning hard rock, the yang aspect of the water. The Grand Canyon is proof that water overcomes the hard without striving.
On the other hand, yin is nowhere without yang. Warmth and light, for example, are necessary for life, and emptiness becomes only helpful when there’s something built around it. Also, a flower can only be pollinated if insects actively approach it and do what they need to do. But if we look closer, we see that the masculine aspect within a particular context always carries a feminine part and vice versa. The bee, for example, can be considered the yang of the flower.
But the bee itself contains yin and yang aspects, like emptiness versus fullness, defensiveness versus offensiveness, and passivity versus activity. Even when we look at every component of the bee separately, we’ll find masculine and feminine aspects until we reach the level of the atom, in which we encounter a positively charged core surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The yin and yang pattern is the essence of binary code, consisting of ‘ones’ and ‘zeros.’ As philosopher Alan Watts puts it, all your perceptions, in all their variety and colour, are composed of a vast composite of little ‘yeses’ and petite ‘nos.
Nature of yin and yang
Looking at the complementary nature of yin and yang, we can say that both feminine and masculine keep each other in check. When one becomes too dominant, the other will grow until it becomes dominant, and then the other side will grow. One of the clearest examples is politics, which goes from left, to the right, from conservative to liberal, and so on. Lao Tzu wrote that no movement is possible if an opposite action hasn’t occurred before.
If you want something to return to the source, you must first allow it to spread out. If you want something to weaken, you must first allow it to become strong. If you want something to be removed, you must first allow it to flourish. If you’re going to possess something, you must first give it away—end quote.
Thus, we could say that everything is a complementary manifestation or, perhaps, a dance between the masculine and the feminine. Yin and yang complement each other, create each other, support each other, regulate each other, and transform. The latter we see when a male and female reproduce, and by merging the feminine and masculine, a child is created that consists of innumerable yins and yangs. Yin and yang are everywhere; every object, living organism, cell, and the single component can be endlessly divided into masculine and feminine.
Non-doing or effortless action, also called wu-Wei by the Taoists, is a practice that harvests the power of both yin and yang. The trick is ‘knowing’ when to act and when not to, so our actions won’t be strenuous but more in a ‘flow state.’ Thus, by embracing yin, we become more receptive to the natural course of the universe.
In many cases, there’s no need to act. An over-enthusiastic salesman scares away potential clients, and an overly clingy girlfriend scares away the man she’s in a relationship with. Many problems solve themselves.
Furthermore, often acting only worsens the situation. By backing off, we enter a yin state. The key is knowing when to back off and when not to. Too much passivity can be as bad as too little, where there will always be a dark and light side to everything, no matter what you do, no matter what you do. Your food only tastes delicious because you’ve tried something disgusting in the past. You’re only pretty because someone else is ugly.
You’re only rich because other people are poor. Therefore, you need awful food to enjoy the excellent food, you need ugly people to be pretty and the poor to be rich. Because without the opposites, there’s nothing to support your position in the hierarchy.
With the invaluable knowledge that there can’t be one without the other, we might want to be more thankful to that nasty coworker, that guy who cuts us off in traffic, those barbaric people in other countries with different cultures and beliefs, and that drug dealer at the corner of the street. Because thanks to them, we can look in the mirror and say: “I’m such a good person.”