Lao Tzu  > Yin-Yang

The Yin-Yang Principle

Yin-yang is one of the basic concepts of the Chinese philosophy. In the I Ching (Book of Changes), yin and yang are rendered by "bright" and "dark" or  "strong" and "weak", expressions which evoke the basic polarity on the phenomenal level.

yin-yang interaction
Patterns of Yin-Yang interaction
What about yin and yang in Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching? I think we find a single reference to them, in similar terms like those above. It: is in the chapter 42 where we read:

    All things leave behind them the Obscurity (out of which they have come), and go forward to embrace the Brightness (into which they have emerged), while they are harmonised by the Breath of Vacancy.

  • Bruce Lee and the Yin-Yang Principle

A brief discussion of the yin-yang operation may be found at Bruce Lee, quoted by Cyrille Javary:

    So long as we persist in separating Yin and Yang we could not hope to achieve them […] if someone wants to ride somewhere by bike, he cannot push both pedals at the same time without remaining nailed. In order to advance he must simultaneously push one of the pedals and release the other one. The complete movement consists of push/release. 'Pushing' is the consequence of  'releasing' and each of them becomes in turn the other's cause.

Indeed, the yin-yang couple could be represented in the shape of complementary forces or tendencies which forge the very structure of the Universe. Moreover, yin and yang are the ultimate resort which explains all the changes in the Universe.

  • The Great Ultimate

T'ai chi t'u
The yin-yang diagram
 In the famous diagram of the Great Ultimate (T'ai chi t'u) or merely Tao diagram, yin and yang are represented in the shape of polar forces. In this respect, a small yin is included in the yang aspect, and a small yang in the yin aspect.

This give place to reflection as we should see here a more complex philosophical idea which comprises an inner secret harmony which is not always visible in the moving phenomena.

  • Yin-Yang Today

The terms yin and yang gain a very wide spread in the Western world. They are associated with Chinese medicine and with complementary features in the human and natural phenomena.


yin-yang chart
Example of Yin-Yang comparison chart (click to enlarge).

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