Yin & Yang
The fundamental premise of Chinese philosophy is the concept of the
Unity of Opposites.
The short hand way of describing everything that is contained in the
physical universe is to say that all things are governed by the rule of
the unity of opposites. An even shorter version of describing the same
thing is to say that the universe is ruled by Yin and Yang.
The Unity of Opposites first appears in the Book of Changes (also known
as the I Ching), in 221 B.C. It forms the basic theory for the Yellow
Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine (Nei Jing), civilization’s first
comprehensive account of medical science.
The logic system at work in the unity of opposites is dialectical and
not linear. In the book Plain Questions it is stated that “Yin and Yang
are the laws of heaven and earth, the great framework of everything ,
the parents of change, the root and beginning of life and death”.
Mater and functions that have impelling, promoting, warming and
stimulating effects are Yang. Those elements that have moistening,
inhibiting, contracting effects are Yin. Everything in the universe can
be categorized as Yin or Yang and some of those classifications follow:
The Yin/Yang nature of a phenomenon is not absolute but relative. Under
certain conditions Yang may become Yin and vice versa. Yin and Yang may
constantly subdivide within each other but the basic nature of Yin must
remain Yin and the basic nature of Yang must remain Yang. That is, a
thing may be made up of an infinite combination of Yin/Yang components,
it may be ninety-nine parts Yin and one part Yang, its basic nature is
Yin. Another thing may be made up of fifty-one parts Yang and forty-nine
parts Yin, Its basic nature is Yang.
The basic contents of Yin/Yang theory reflect their struggle to control
one another. In the opposition of Yin/Yang they try to reach equality
and maintain balance but there is never true balance for more than a
moment. Like two kids on a teeter-totter, the boy is moving up while the
girl is moving down, they come into absolute balance for very brief and
rare moments. While the boy is going up he is a Yang element engaged in
a Yang movement. While the girl is going down she is a Yin element
engaged in a Yin movement. When it is the girl’s turn to go up, she is a
Yin element engaged in a Yang movement, but still her basic nature is
Yin/Yang are interdependent and must be for definition to exist. You
cannot know light without the contrast of dark, cold with out the
contrast of heat, courage without the contrast of fear. All of these
examples have multitudes of gradations. As the sun sets the world
becomes gradually darker, a little less Yang and a little more Yin, by
increments that can be measured in time and light. Dawn is the starting
point of Yang and from dawn till noon is the period of Yang within Yang.
At noon Yang has reached its fullest point, forcing a natural but
gradual change to Yin. From noon to sunset Yin is within Yang. Sunset
brings on Yin within yin which reaches it’s fullest at midnight forcing
a natural return to Yang. Midnight to dawn is Yang within yin and the
cycle continues. This is the inter-transforming relation ship contained
with in the unity of opposites.
Only when Yin or Yang is extreme will the inter-transforming
relationship take place. The Yin/Yang theory is used in TCM to explain
the organic structure and physiological functions of the body as well as
the pathogenic changes that are a guide to clinical diagnosis.