Saturday, April 11, 2015

Yin-Yang and the Creation of Harmony

We communicate with each other through language. Language is composed of words. We make sense of the world around us as we comprehend the meaning of these words. The meaning of the words is often grasped by our brains in relation to other words. This relation can be one of antagonism, or of agreement. So for example

Something that is good is understood as good because it is not bad. And vice versa.
Something that is viewed as wrong is viewed so because it has absence of right in it. And again vice versa.
Something that is seen as full is seen so because there is no space of emptiness in it. And vice versa.

There can be many examples cited in this style of opposition. It all points to the fact that in order to perceive something as it is, we need to know what it is not. The Chinese theory of Yin-Yang rests on this fundamental tenet of dichotomies.

The crucial part in understanding these binaries is that they always exist together. One is present because its opposite is present too. Their co-relation is cardinal to their existence. Harmony is achieved when the opposite forces are present in balance. The symbol of Yin-Yang is round. Half of the part is white with a black dot in it and the other half is black with a white dot in it. One is not complete without the other. The boundaries are not marked as rigid solids. Rather, they are curled, symbolic of fluidity. One flows into the other and vice versa.

Black and White 

The energies of Yin-Yang are segregated as masculine vs feminine, dark vs. light, active vs. passive and so on. But these energies are not absolute. They flow into each other, creating an interaction, a creation. This synergizing, this interplay is the force behind creation of universe. In many mythologies, binary opposites of male and female are seen as the driving forces behind the formation of universe. The Chinese view it as a cosmic interaction between Yin (female) and Yang (male). Indian mythology attributes creation to the co-mingling of Purusha (male) and Prakriti (female). For the Japanese,  these forces were named Izanagi(male) and Izanami (female).

We experience Yin-Yang in our daily lives almost everyday. If we are happy one moment, we are sad over something a little later. If we are patient and smiling for the most part of the day, our anger shoots up the moment we see injustice or dishonesty wrecking the peace of our mind at some other moment. All emotions have significance in our lives. If we don't get angry over the wrongs that exist in our societies, we cannot eradicate them. If we fail in this, bad forces take over the good forces and cause imbalance in societies. We love the balmy sun rays in the morning but we need the dark solace each night offers. We need to be active but without some rest, we will just snap.

Yin-Yang plays an important part in music. There are slow notes accompanied by fast ones and together they create memorable melodies. Architects too have made use of yin-yang ideas in buiding structures that are in inverse relation to each other. A notable example is that of US architect Steven Holl who has used the basic tenets of Taoist philosophy for building the Tianjin eco-city. You can read the details and see the pictures of the structures here

The other day, I went to a children's museum in Philadelphia and had a fun time as my kids played with their bodies and minds. (I will soon post my post on that.) After having explored the major part of the museum, we landed on the space fantasy section. I welcomed the dark and soothing blue overtones of the interiors. The structure had been built in such a way that the space part was followed by a section called Cloud Hopscotch, which took us into rocket launch section. The first two sections were dark as I mentioned while the last one was meant for action and was full of light. The interplay of this dark and light gave a feeling of moderation, of solace. The music that played in the background of Cloud Hopscotch was an interplay of light reed notes to deep tones. It all catered to a playful atmosphere. It seemed Yin-Yang were at play.

One day my son was getting furious while trying to see how his glow-in-the-dark stick will work. It was day and he could not see the glow. I told him that he has to find a place that is dark. So is it with life. To understand light, we need to have a knowledge of the dark. Yin and Yang cannot exist in isolation. They have to be together, complementing each other, challenging each other.

Do I end here, or do I begin? I wonder, for the end means the beginning of something and the beginning entails the end of something.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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WOW badge for the prompt 'Yin' and 'Yang'


  1. Nice of luck for WOW post Sunaina.

  2. Keep writing. Your posts are very original and the best part is that they are from the heart!

    1. thank you so much for such inspiring words really made my day....

  3. Very nice and original thought Sunaina!