Yin and Yang
"Something undifferentiated was born before heaven and earth; still and silent, standing alone and unchanging, going through cycles unending, able to be mother to the world" (Lao Tsu): the Dao (Tao), the Great Void, from which arise Yin and Yang as (seemingly) contradictory, yet in their dynamic flow complementary aspects.
The entire universe was created by the interplay of these two forces and caused by it. There is no Yin without Yang and no Yang without Yin. All things and phenomena contain their opposite and therewith form a unity.
All the myriad of things carry the Yin on their backs
and hold Yang in their embrace.
The strength of the void creates their harmony.
Yin and Yang are dependent upon each other. The Yin nourishes the Yang, the Yang protects the Yin. The Yang, the active and more changeable aspect, forms and moulds the Yin, the more physical and material. Yin, as an expression of matter, offers resistance to the active forces Yang and receives the strength of the Yang. Together they form a oneness. In this way Yin and Yang describe the interplay of Qi, the streaming life force, the origin of all beings and things.
Primarily the Yin is symbolised in the earth, in the night and winter, whereas the Yang is in the sky, the day and summer. Yin is passive, calm, quiet, slow, heavy and soft. Yang by contrast is active, moving, loud, fast, light and firm. Yang is above, behind and outside.
In the physical structure the upper part of the body is in general Yang, the lower Yin. The outer is Yang, the inner is Yin. Behind is Yang, the front is Yin. The image is that of a forward flexed person, a rice farmer, whose head and back are exposed to the sun. Those body part that are directly shone upon, are Yang. The body part that are in the shadow, are Yin.
This rhythmic change, the interplay of Yin and Yang can clearly be seen in the changing seasons: In the spring the days are getting longer, brightness and warmth increase. Nature expands the sap and the life forces flow back into the periphery. Plants burgeon and sprout, nature becomes greener and animals end their hibernation. The Yang aspect arises to the foreground and in the summer the Yang reaches is highest expression. The days are long and warm, nature is fully unfolded.
At the same time, however, the Yin aspect begins to be visible. The sap and the life forces in their maturity begin to recede more and more into the interior. The leaves change colour and fall off.
Life withdraws more and more into the interior. The time of darkness and cold begins. The surface solidifies in ice and snow.
Only deep inside the seed of life is waiting for the renewed arising of the Yang force, with the coming spring, the renewed burgeoning and sprouting.
And just as everything in nature is subject to the cycle of Yin and Yang, the human body also pulses between these two polarities, in their interplay of expansion and contraction, of evaporation and cooling (condensation).
Warming, moving, transforming, retaining and protecting are the main functions of the Yang in the human body. Cooling, moistening, nourishing and calming are the main functions of the Yin.
Life in accordance with the seasons
Life cycles from the perspective of Traditional Far Eastern medicin
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