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The Importance of the Yin-Yang

This symbol, known as the T?ai Chi Chu symbol, or Yin-Yang symbol has its roots in ancient Chinese cosmology. The original meaning of “yin and yang” is representative of the mountains–both the dark side and the bright side, or the contrasting shaded and sunlight slopes of the mountain. These two words can possibly be traced back to the Shang and Chou Dynasty,(1550 – 1050BC). But most scholars credit the “Yin and Yang” to the Han Dynasty (206B.C.-A.D. 220). At this time, The Yin Yang School was founded by Tsou Yen. It combines the ancient philosophy of the 5 elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, water; and combined them into a cosmology of cyclical movements. The arrangement between the two poles forms a cycle of movement or the meaning of change. In relationship to the elements, wood and fire belong to the yang, and water and meter to yin. Earth belongs to both yin and yang because it assists both. The yin and yang only represent opposite poles NOT good or evil.

You might ask what role the Yin and Yang play in everyday life. Well, as you can see, the Chinese picked up on this many years ago. The ideas behind Yin and Yang developed by observing the physical world. It was observed that nature appears to group into pairs mutually dependent opposites. For example, the concept of night has no meaning without the concept of day.

Americans picked up on the connection, but never truly tried to name it. Yin and Yang are just opposites. I believe that?s were the saying, ?Opposites attract?, originated from. Chinese believed that in any situation, that without the positive and the negative there could never be a whole. Because you want get a perfect fit. There are so many examples that can be explained, examples that have never truly been thought through or examined. For instance, a magnet has a South Pole and a North Pole. Putting two south sides or two north sides together is impossible, but if you put the north and south together, you form a whole. A joining together of the opposite poles. Another example would be a person riding a bicycle. If a person riding a bicycle wants to go somewhere he/she cannot pump on both pedals at the same time or not pump on them at all. In order to go somewhere he/she has to pump on one pedal and release the other. So the movement of going forward requires this ?oneness? of pumping and releasing.

This ?oneness? of things is a characteristic of the Chinese mind. In the Chinese language, words are even looked on as a whole because their meanings are derived from each other. For example, the Chinese character for ?good? and the Chinese character for ?not good,? when combined together will reflect the quality of something (whether good or not good). Likewise, the Chinese character for ? long? and the Chinese character for ?short,? when brought together mean ?length?. All these examples show us that everything has a complementary part to form a whole.

Without one it is impossible to have the other.

In closing, I believe that most human beings live their life according to the saying, ?Don?t sweat the small stuff.? Small stuff meaning things that really don?t serve a purpose in everyday life. Daily we become even more blinded by ?the big picture? instead of seeing the beauty in things that we normally don?t care about. Being at one with yourself and your surroundings could be a wonderful experience, but not many are willing to take that step.


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