The yin and yang are concepts that come from Chinese philosophy, more exactly from Taoism. The latter is a framework of thought created by Lao Tsé, a figure of which there is no certainty whether he really existed. The truth is that these concepts are present from approximately the sixth century before our era.
The philosophy of Lao Tsé was consigned in a book called Tao Te King, name that means something like ‘path to virtue’. This is the first time the concepts of Yin and Yang are presented, which have been translated as ‘dark and bright’.
“If you want to live a balanced life, you must admit that human nature is yin and yang, day and night, love and hate, you can not reject it. It’s about embracing him and celebrating the fact that we are weak, and from that a great power emerges.”
Lao Tzu speaks of yin and yang as a duality that is present in everything that exists. Day and night, man and woman, life and death, etc. These are two opposite states that are not in contradiction, but complement each other and depend on each other. The one does not want to impose itself on the other, but coexists in balance with it.
The duality in the Yin and Yang
For Taoism, everything is constantly changing naturally. Winter follows autumn and so on, without us doing anything to make it happen. The same happens with human realities. The path of virtue consists in not altering those changes, neither in nature nor in one’s own life.
Personal desires and goals are what lead someone to alter that natural order. The “no action”, on the other hand, allows things to flow and unfold as they should, without changes introduced from outside.
The yin and yang represent that continuous change. Harmony consists in keeping in balance the duality expressed in these two concepts. In turn, the disharmony has to do with the excessive dominance of one of these two aspects.
The yin corresponds to everything that is feminine, soft, moist, earthy, passive, absorbing and dark. The yang has to do with the masculine, rough, dry, aerial, active, penetrating and luminous. Both elements and characteristics are present in everything that exists.
The principles that govern yin and yang
According to Taoism, the concepts of yin and yang are governed by a series of principles, which are theirs. These principles define the dynamics that exist between these two factors and serve as a guideline to apply them to specific situations.
The principles in mention are the following:
- The yin and yang are opposite. However, they are not exclusive: there may be something yin in a yang reality and vice versa. For example, in the darkness of the night, there is moonlight.
- Interdependence. Yin can not exist without the yang and vice versa. For example, there is no death without life, no life without death.
- They maintain a dynamic balance. When the yin increases, the yang decreases and vice versa. When one of the two grows in excess, forces the other to concentrate and this triggers a transformation. For example, excess heat leads to melting in an area and this in turn causes flooding.
- When the one disappears, it becomes the other. They do not form a separate reality, but coexist. That is why the one disappears, relatively, only to make way for the other. For example, day and night.
- In the yin there is always a trace of yang and vice versa.
It is important to insist that the concepts of yin and yang are part of a philosophy and not of a scientific theory, although quantum physics has developed theses that coincide to some extent with these. Likewise, this idea of the duality inherent to everything has different practical applications.
The concepts of yin and yang apply directly to martial arts practices. Ideas like defense and attack, or concentration and relaxation, come directly from these. Likewise, Chinese medicine uses duality and complementarity, both to diagnose and treat all diseases. They express it with this principle: “to sedate the excessive and to tone down the deficient”.
In the same way, the concepts of yin and yang are applied in daily life to achieve inner harmony. They call for detachment and acceptance. Let flow. That the nights of our lives continue the days,to sadness, joy and so on. Do not pretend that everything is positive, or full. Admit that duality exists.