3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Americans may be infatuated with Yin and Yang but they neither understand its strengths nor its weakness; they certainly do not understand the hidden dangers.



I have a dozen unfinished writing tasks but I find myself chasing a topic through a maze of rabbit tunnels. I recon this is what I deserve for candidly commenting about a subject that is near and dear to the minds of so many people: at least far more than I expected. I have always considered the theory of YinYang to have symmetrical beauty, but I considered its eastern fatalistic application to be anti-Christian. As it turns out, quite a few Americans, even Christians, have embraced the symmetrical beauty of YinYang, which they call Yin and Yang. Americans seem to like the notion that there are no absolutes and that life is a balance of opposites, which depend on one another. In fact, they almost seem to revel in the YinYang belief that an ideal state would be for virtue and vice to exist as a balanced set of forces in a person’s life. At the same time they do not care for the discipline required to achieve an ideal YinYang balance in all facets of their life. The fact is, most Americans are infatuated with their perception of Yin and Yang but they have not taken the time to fully comprehend YinYang, and thus, they neither understand its strengths nor its weakness; they certainly do not understand the hidden dangers.


The concept of YinYang probably originated in ancient Chinese philosophies, which predates Taoism and Confucianism. Written reference to the philosophy of YinYang stretches back to somewhere around 1400 BC. Early philosophers tried to explain that the universe is maintained or empowered by two opposite forces: Yin and Yang. If you read the ancient Chinese principles for YinYang it is obvious that they were influenced by nature. They sought to explain winter/summer, hard/soft, earth/sky, water/fire and day/night as the result of two forces, which were opposite but worked together. These are opposite forces but not necessarily opposing forces; for one cannot exist without the other. Perfect harmony exists when the two forces are balanced.

Interestingly, most Chinese philosophers of YinYang did not consider the existence of specific YinYang forces for good and evil. From an original perspective, there is really no good or bad force only what appears to be good or bad as the result of other forces. This means that a polar distinction between good versus evil forces primarily exists in Western minds. This is not to say that there is no concept of good and evil in YinYang. There is the adaption of Confucian ideas associated with morality and there is also the influence of Buddhist manipulation of Taoist philosophy. But, this is not our Western concept of good versus evil. In any advent, what is key to understanding YinYang is the Chinese belief that Yin and Yang are complementary opposites, which cannot exist apart from each other; this means they are not opposing forces that are struggling for dominance.

The Eastern concept of YinYang is symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, which is supposed to diagram the supreme duality of the universe. This basic symbol has been around for well over 2000 years. The symbol is a circle divided by a backwards ‘S’ shaped line. The backwards shaped ‘S’ line produces two different “tadpole” looking parts: one black (Yin) and the other white (Yang). Yin and Yang are relational opposites, which are on the opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year, but they are not in opposition to one another. Thus, Yin and Yang are interdependent; you cannot have winter without summer. This means Yin and Yang are never static but are constantly changing. When the rate of change is balanced you have perfect harmony.

Within the ‘head’ portion of each tadpole shape (in the Taijitu symbol) is a small circle of opposite color. This represents the ‘seed’ of the opposite force existing in each tadpole. It is this seed that precipitates the change of one force into the opposite force. In the Eastern perspective, the two shapes are not warring against each other but are in a constant state of transformation: growing at one end and shrinking at the other. It is important that each state of transformation be properly proportioned; i.e. Yang within Yin must equal Yin within Yan and Utmost Yang must equal Utmost Yin. When the rate of growth exactly matches the rate of decline, YinYang are in perfect harmony or balance. This is the desired state.

This original Chinese concept of YinYang is not religious and it is very different from the good versus evil duality found in most religions. In the philosophy of Yin Yang, the idea is not for Yin or Yang to dominate; the ideal state is achieved when the two forces are balanced in their transformations. This is why it is dangerous to assume any link can exist between Christianity and pure YinYang philosophy.

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