The yin-yang symbol is technically and more accurately called Taijitu, meaning “supreme ultimate diagrams.”
The Taijitu is my favorite of all symbols. It is simple, yet illustrates profound truths. It is used by Taoism and Zen Buddhism.
Yin originally referred to the “shady side” of a mountain. In the yin-yang symbol, it is represented as black. Yang originally referred to the “sunny side” of a mountain and is represented as white.
This duality of sun and shade do not make the mountain two different things. It is still one mountain. So the duality of light and dark are an illusion, they are only apparent. They are not real or essential.
This sets up a whole series of dualities. There are light and darkness, positive and negative, objective and subjective, mental and physical, male and female, life and death, heat and cold, soft and hard, and many more.
The first lesson is that you can’t have light without darkness, male without female, negative without positive. Duality is part of the very structure of reality. Think of what that means.
We spend so much of our lives trying to fight against the way things are. We are trying to do the impossible, and wasting so much time and energy doing it. Death, negative, and cold are a part of the way things are. We need to accept reality, not fight against it.
But the Taijitu teach us an even deeper lesson. Despite the duality of appearances, all things are ultimately one. This deep unity is felt when we take a walk in nature, relax, and tune into the birds chirping and the breeze blowing. We feel our oneness with all the living things.
This sense of oneness is also discovered in deep meditation. A number of mediators talk about a state nonduality. It is this union with nature that the religiously instructed mistakenly think is God. Such is understandable, it is the lexicon they were taught.
The Harmony of Dualities
Not only do dualities need each other to exist, they actually contain the seed of each other. In the Taijitu, you will see a white dot in the black half of the symbol, and a black dot on the white side. This is because dualities contain an element of their opposite. A male will have female aspects, and a female will have male aspects.
There is no pure polarity without its opposite. And in each polarity is the seed of its opposite.
The Take Away
So what does the Taijitu teach us about living life? First, it teaches that nothing is all good or all bad. We get a new job, but our expectations are unrealistic. It is not going to be a perfect job. Every positive has a negative balancing it.
So second, the Taijitu teaches us to accept reality as it is. It is a mixture of positive and negative, ups and downs. Accepting what we can’t change is the first step to inner peace.
Another thing the Taijitu teaches us is the importance of balance. All of reality is a balance of dualities. Darkness follows daylight, death follows life. It is the way of nature.
The fourth thing the Taijitu teaches us is that everything is in contact flux and flow. Reality is in constant movement, it has its own rhythm, its own cycle. Patterns are all around us.
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