When we think of the philosophies and beliefs from the East, we often think of the well-known symbol of Yin and Yang. The black and white circle’s significance is, however, not quite well understood. So where does it come from exactly? What is its meaning?
Ying &Yang: Origins and Meaning of Symbol
The history of Yin and Yang is not well known. A priori, the Yin Yang philosophy would have appeared with the Chinese thinker Zou Yan in the 3rd century BC. It will have an impact not only on the development of Taoism in Asia but also on science. It is then not surprising to see that the symbol is found in one of the oldest books of Chinese medicine, the Huangdi Nei Jing Suwen.
This symbol has far more meaning than you probably realize.
The Yin is the dark swirl and the Yang is the light one.
And each side has a dot of the opposite color, which gives a clue about the meaning of the Yin & Yang. Everything contains the seed of its opposite. Ying & Yang are not total opposites. They are relative to each other.
Taoists believe that the universe is made up of energies, vibrations and matter which all behave differently in different contexts. Something can be Yin or Yang depending, well, on many things.
So while the wheat that is growing is yang, when its being reaped its Yin.
The break is Yin to the Gas Pedals Yang. You think you are getting it?
Yang is harder, stronger, brighter, and faster. But one can turn into the other. Or be the two sides of the same coin. The sun beams are Yang in comparison to the shadows which are Yin. The Yang starts an action and the Yin receives it, completes it.
Although Yin & Yang are opposites, they may also be transformed into each other. Which is reflected in the well-known symbol. Night (Yin) will always become day (Yang). Winter (Yin) will always become summer (Yang) and activity (Yang) is always followed by rest (Yin).
Water flowing calmly down the river is Yin, but when it goes over the waterfall its very Yang.
Taoism teaches that there is a power in the Universe - higher, deeper, and truer than any other force. They call it the Tao, which means “The Way”.
Understanding “The Way”
The Yin Yang symbol offers a certain vision of the world, and as such, is a true path of life or "Way of Life"
It invites us to understand:
- that the opposites are actually intimately linked,
- that the truth lies in paradoxes,
- that the notions of right and wrong are very relative,
- that phenomena should not be judged in a binary way.
The symbol of Yin and Yang invites us to prudence, tolerance, acceptance, balance, perseverance, and love. It leads to serenity and happiness: there is no reason to be afraid anymore, because:
- death makes life possible,
- the negative allows the positive,
- misfortune allows happiness, etc.
The Tao or “Way” has two sides. Unlike other religions for the higher power is all good, Taoism teaches that we need to learn from both the Yin and the Yang. Unlike religions with gods that are personal, the higher power in Taoism is not. Taoists believe that living in harmony with “The Way”, a person will not have to fight against the universe’s natural flow.
The Ying & Yang Symbol in Modern Day:
As you can see, this symbol is more than just a pretty drawing, it is a symbol with a deep, complex and logical meaning. For this reason, it has been adopted in our daily life and this is one of the reasons why you probably came across it more than once.
Ying & Yang Yoga
Yoga has been recently heavily influenced by the Ying & Yang way of living.
Today we mostly know Yang Yoga practices such as Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Bikram Yoga which are dynamic and fast flowing, heating and working on the muscular system.
Yin Yoga was introduced in the West by Paulie Zink in the 1970s and aims to loosen up these tissues, increasing their flexibility and pliability. According to the origins of the practice, the connective tissues are ‘Yin’, and the muscles and blood are ‘Yang’ – the two must be balanced with each other to achieve tranquility.
Ying & Yang Jewelry
While the symbol and meaning of Ying Yang isn’t quite well understood by people, it’s been a popular jewelry symbol and can be seen featured in beautiful necklaces, charms and earrings.
Yin yang jewelry was a huge hit in the 90s and with celebrities like designer Alexa Chung and super blogger Andrea Vandall wearing yin yang jewelry; it’s brought the symbol into the spotlight again.
Given its importance, it is normal that yin yang jewelry is successful today. One such attractive item is the Yin & Yang Black Obsidian Pendant above.
Indeed, more and more people understand the meaning and importance of Yin Yang. Therefore, if you plan to acquire a jewel with this symbol, you are quite right to consider it.
The Yin Yang symbol has been very popular for tattoos, as well, with celebrities like Megan Fox and Paris Jackson having themselves inked with it.
A relatively old sign, it has endured through the centuries without losing its meaning. It has a universal significance.
So, for example, listen more and argue less. Be ready to back up or undo something, and you will make faster progress. Do not worry about being the best, be who you are. Live simply. Complications take you way from the Tao. The wise person is flexible Taoists say. Learning to use the Tao is what Taoism is all about. And that’s why you should know your Yin from your Yang.
Let us finish this presentation on this beautiful quote:
"One cannot see light without shadow, one cannot perceive silence without noise, one cannot attain wisdom without madness." Carl Gustav Jung