It is always difficult to know which comes first - the chicken or the egg or, in this case, - Chi or Yin and Yang.
Did the fist cosmic Chi produce the opposites called Yin and Yang? Or was there originally absolutely nothing (Mu Chi), from which emerged the opposites, Yin and Yang which, through the energy of their interaction - their constant attrition and abrasion - their polarity - their mutual attraction and rejection - gave rise to the great universal energy, Chi?
Some philosophies hold to the former - most to the latter. Certainly all religions and philosophies recognise the early creation of opposites. The Bible, which forms the basis of much of the Western tradition, records the creation of the opposites heaven and earth and light and darkness, in Genesis Chapter 1 - "In the beginning God created heaven and earth… and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God said let there be light and there was light… and God divided the light from the darkness." One philosopher who held that Yin and Yang came first was Lao- who stated that everything in the universe arose from the great ultimate source or Tai Chi. The term Tai Chi means the grand ultimate. The Tai Chi symbol is a mandala - a symbolic figure which, in the shape of a circle, is said to represent the cosmos. The mandala is said to reveal the meaning of life on many levels; the circular Tai Chi symbol being equated to the universe while everything that exists within it, within the universe, may be divided into the two categories, Yin and Yang. The concept of Yin and Yang is, like Feng Shui, closely allied to Taoism, with its great emphasis on balance and harmony; its oneness with nature through intuitive knowledge and harmony. This harmony and oneness may be seen through the Yin and Yang, which constitutes the Tao or 'The Way'.
Many Chinese beliefs, traditions and lifestyles, including Feng Shui, are based upon the principle of opposites as seen in Yin and Yang. In Feng Shui, we aspire not to go to extremes but to find a harmonious balance with nature. But to achieve that balance we must be aware of the nature of all things around us - what is Yin and what is Yang.
For instance:- Day is yang, night is yin. Yang is hot, yin is cold. Yang is male, yin is female. Sun is yang, moon is yin. Yang is Light - dark is yin Yang is Strong - weak is yin Yang is Active - still is yin Yang is Happy - sad is yin Yang is Like - dislike is yin Yang is Hope - despair is yin
Yin and Yang are seen as dependent opposites, always striving to be in balance, yet constantly pushing against each other. The opposites flow in a natural cycle, each replacing the other, just like day and night, heat and cold and the seasons.
The Yin and Yang cycles move through active to passive and back again; from light to dark and back, from hot to cold to hot. Yang is generally seen as active and Yin as passive.
As mutually dependent opposites, Yin and Yang cannot exist without each other. Yet each defines the other. How would you know what was hot if you did not experience cold? Would you know what happiness was if you never knew sadness? Each comes and then it goes - in each is the seed of the other.
The emphasis of all eastern philosophy is about things being balanced and flowing - so dissimilar to western philosophy where things are considered to be black or white, right or wrong. Western philosophy operates in a culture of separation and disconnection, whereas in the east, opposites are seen to evolve and are cyclical. In such philosophy nothing is either wholly right or wrong. There is merely balance, transformation, interaction and dependent opposition. This is the philosophy of Yin and Yang - the dependent duality. Neither can exist without the other and yet by examining the figures in the circle, which look a little like fish - and you can see the seeds of the opposite in each of them.
We now recognise that within men there is a feminine element - a man's "female side" and, similarly, within women there is a masculine "side." In the heart of winter a seed lays in wait to become life; at the very height of summer the sun reaches its greatest declination and turns from the tropic to begin its journey into winter.
So the Tai Chi of Yin and Yang, like the Tao, follows the way of change in the sense that all life is constantly evolving and so what is now full will soon be empty and what is empty will become full. Every day, though we remain the same person, we are different. We evolve and change according to the 'way' and the natural force of Chi or life force energy. Though Yin and Yang are opposite in nature, they are also, at the same time, complementary. And each has the ability to accomplish or create the other. Great love has within it the seeds of great hate similarly hate may be turned to love. Yin and Yang is in everything - yet nothing is completely one or the other. Each of us have positive and negative characteristics and life is in a constant state of change, moving from one polarising force to another constantly shifting from Yin to Yang.
Juliana Abram is one of the leading Feng Shui consultants in
Australia having been traditionally trained in Hong Kong by Chinese
Feng Shui Master Raymond Lo.
Juliana specialises in 'Flying Star' Feng Shui and the Four Pillars of destiny.