Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’


You know the saying about the world being gray and not just black and white? The meaning being that life and situations are not that clear cut, with differing circumstances adding to the complexity of issues.

Well, how does a student of Chinese astrology, who is first introduced to the symbol of the Yin Yang discern that theory from the Chinese one that holds all forces of the universe are in fact black and white?

The concept of the Yin Yang forms the basis of all of Chinese astrology, philosophy, health and medicine. Some 3,000 years ago—perhaps longer—the ancient Chinese came up with the philosophy that the world can be explained through the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin, the black part representing the moon, encompasses darkness, coldness, receptivity, passiveness, femininity, softness, shadows. Yang, the white part representing the sun, encompasses the opposite of everything Yin: brightness, heat, activity, aggressiveness, masculinity, hardness, light.

Even before they believed that the world was round, they theorized that life evolved in cycles and could be represented by a circle made up of the qualities of Yin and of Yang. Of great significance was the concept of a “balance” of this Yin and Yang. This symbol was created to show a balance between black and white. In the top part of the circle where there is mostly white, there is a sliver of black and a black dot inside the white swirl. On the bottom half of the circle where it is mostly black, there is a sliver of white with a white dot inside the black swirl. (By the way, the Yin Yang above is the correct representation of how it should be and any other variation is incorrect i.e. wrong: black part top heavy on the right, black on the left and white on the right, etc.)

You could write an entire book on the theories behind the Yin Yang, but suffice it to say, even though the ancient Chinese believed the world was black and white, they also emphasized the significance of a balance. Therefore, you can never have something that is wholly dark without the existence of light. (You don’t know what darkness is without the contrast of light, you don’t know what hot is without knowing cold… but that is for another post.)

The simplicity of the black and white view of the world is balanced by the theory that nothing can be totally one or the other. There is always a presence—no matter how large or small—of the opposite quality within. Likewise, you can apply this theory to your life. There will be good times and bad, hardships and periods of smooth sailing, happiness and sadness… Is there really no room for gray?

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