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The True Meaning of Yin Yang

The True Meaning of Yin Yang

The Yin Yang is a Chinese symbol that comes from Daoism which is a religion born in China. There is a legendary story behind how the Yin and the Yang came together to form the symbol. Yin and Yang refer to two polarities or opposites that one can observe in all aspects of life in the universe. Yin yang consists of two colours white and black. Everything in our universe can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. It shows the harmony between strength and gentleness, and the most important thing that not everything is absolutely good or absolutely bad.

The Yin Yang is a Chinese symbol that comes from Daoism which is a religion born in China. In Chinese it is known as the Tai Chi picture or symbol. Yin is the dark side and yang is the light one with each side having a dot of the opposite colour. This sends a message that everything contains the seed of its opposite. Yin and Yang refer to two polarities or opposites that one can observe in all aspects of life in the universe. Everything in our universe can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. However, the two sides of this symbol are not totally opposite to each other but they are relative to each other. They complement and complete the other.

Daoists believe that there is a power in the universe which is higher and deeper than any other force that governs the universe. It is called the Dao which means the way. The Dao has two sides but unlike in other religions where there is a higher power which is all good and probably has an all evil rival, Daoism teaches us that one needs to learn from both sides of this force; the Yin and the Yang. Neither side is completely good or bad. They believe that instead of going against this power, if we move in harmony with it, our life will be much simpler.

Story of Yin Yang

There is a legend that tells us of how the Yin and the Yang came together to form the symbol that it is today and also gives us some insight as to what it means.

There were two kingdoms in ancient China. They were called the Yin and the Yang.

The village of Yin was situated in the Himalayan mountains. It was freezing all the time, the people couldn’t keep themselves warm, their crops wouldn’t grow and there were avalanches, which are landslides of snow, all the time.

The village of Yang was situated in the Taklamakan desert. There was a long drought, a shortage of water that had lasted a few thousand years, there were constant sandstorms and it was becoming difficult to survive.

Each kingdom had a high monk. The high monk in Yin was called Zhan and the high monk in Yang was called Chen. The monks tried to find a solution to end the suffering of their villagers. They had done everything to please the Gods but to no avail; nothing could be done.

The two monks one day set out to find Qin Su, the highest monk in all of China who lived in the sacred temple of heaven. Both their villages were equidistant (at the same distance) from the sacred temple. As the two monks happened to set out at the same time from their villages, they arrived at the same time.

When they came in front of each other the symbols around their necks started tugging at the chains. The symbols pulled and pulled until they broke off and flew towards each other and joined. A bright light blinded the two monks for a moment and the new symbol fell to the earth. The Gods had given the two monks a sign. They now knew that they had to help each other.

The two monks went back to their kingdoms and told their people what had happened. Everyone packed up their belongings and left to go to the halfway point between both the kingdoms. There a new kingdom named Yin Yang was formed. They lived in harmony with the earth. There were no more natural disasters or diseases that afflicted the people. The weather was perfect for the people to live in and they could now cultivate the land. The Yin Yang had become a symbol of peace and bonding.

From this story too, we can see how different Yin and Yang are. These characters originally mean the sunny side of a hill and the shady side of a hill. Yang being the sunny side, while Yin being the shady side.

Yang, which is the lighter side, or the white swirl of the symbol, and the sunny side of the hill, represents the qualities of being positive, warmer, brighter, faster, strong, aggressive and masculine.

Yin, which is the darker side of the symbol, and the shady side of the hill, represents the qualities of being dark, cold, negative, weaker, gentle, and feminine.

However these qualities do not necessarily define each other.  It is not necessary that a man is always strong and aggressive or that a woman is always cold or weak. It is the general idea that is brought out through this symbol.

The two dots within each side which are of the opposite colour of the side in which they are placed, too, are important parts of the symbol. These dots give out the message that both the Yin and Yang contain their opposites. One can turn into the other. They need not always be distant and separate from the other.

Even though Yin and Yang are considered to be polar opposites, the Daoists believed in a balance that needs to be maintained. Thus, the Yin and Yang by being opposites of each other, balance each other out. The Yang starts an action while the Yin receives it. This balancing of Yin Yang energies is something desired by the Daoists. It shows the harmony between strength and gentleness, and the most important thing that not everything is absolutely good or absolutely bad. Each has an element of the other present in it and we must learn from both.

As the Daoists say, a wise person is flexible; one who learns from life and lives in harmony with the force that governs the universe. One must be happy with who they are and accept the good and the bad, their strengths and weaknesses and also their positives and their negatives.

 

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Ayesha Mendonca

I am Currently studying B. A. In English literature at St. Xavier’s College. I love reading, writing, singing and watching English movies. I love thinking about abstract concepts, about life and the universe. Writing for me is an outlet, a way to express my thoughts and opinions. I love having intellectual conversations with people and I make the best of such interactions.

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