The notion of Yin and Yang can be traced back to the 3rd century BCE. The Chinese school of Yinyang propagated the concept extensively while making advancements in philosophy and cosmology. Cosmologist Zou Yan or Tsou Yen played a key role in disseminating this philosophy. According to Zou Yan, life passed through the five phases of fire, water, metal, wood, and earth. Each of these five phases interchanged as per the principle of Yin and Yang.
So, what is this principle? Let’s delve deeper into the topic.
The principle of Yin and Yang highlights the inherent duality in everything. The proponents of this theory believe that everything exists in this world as inseparable and contradictory opposites. One can find yin and yang examples of such opposites in every possible paradigm existing in this world. Among humans, there are the binaries of male and female or the old and the young. In nature, there is this duality of darkness and light.
None of these opposites is superior to the other. One increases with a decrease in another. Therefore, it’s the proper yin and yang balance between the two extremities that can bring harmony to this world and the order of things.
Yin and Yang have distinct connotations or significance in terms of what they stand for and what they represent. Yin symbolizes earth, femininity, darkness, passivity, and absorption. Cryptologically, Yin is represented by the Tiger, the color Orange or a broken line.
Yang signifies the exact opposite poles of Yin. It represents heaven as the other end of the heaven-earth duality, and masculinity as the binary opposite of femaleness. It signifies light as opposed to darkness, activity against passivity, and penetration as opposed to absorption. In terms of codes and symbols, Yang is signified through odd numbers, the color azure, the symbol of a dragon, and an unbroken line.
The synergy of these two in complementing each other is what signifies the actual process of the universe. Chinese mythology proposes that Yin and Yang were born out of the chaos during the creation of the universe. After they were born, they existed in harmony at the center of the Earth, and by achieving a balance, they facilitated the birth of the world’s first human known as Pangu or P’an Ku. The world’s first gods, Fuxi, Nuwa, and Shennong, are also believed to be born out of Yin and Yang. After the concept spread throughout the streams of medicine, art, government, astrology, and divination in China, it also propagated to Japan as early as 675 CE.
There were also differences of opinion when it came to the adoption of Yin and Yang philosophy within the Chinese religion sub-segments. For instance, the Taoists were in favor of Yin, whereas the Confucianists kept Yang at the center of their philosophical discourse.
While synergy among Yin and Yang is important in bringing peace and harmony in the world, an imbalance between these two may create great disturbances on the Earth, including floods, drought, and plagues. It makes the effort, to maintain the correct balance in every yin and yang relationship, a matter of ardent importance for the Chinese and many other contemporary Asian philosophies.
Before moving into the modern-day cultural implications and references of the philosophy of Yin and Yang, let’s have a look at some more Yin and Yang examples.
It is the strong philosophical fundamentals of the concepts of Yin and Yang that have kept the theory relevant for years. It teaches us to see both sides of the game and makes us realize how the interplay of these opposites makes things complete and harmonious. It’s difficult to do away with this notion of opposites existing in every phenomenon that happens on this earth. Therefore the Yin and Yang philosophy would sustain as long as humankind sustains.
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