What is Yin Yang Theory?

Written by Losany

Feb, 2022

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Yin Yang theory is one of the core ideas of Chinese traditional culture. It and The Five Elements Theory have become a longitude and latitude of Chinese traditional culture. These two sets of knowledge are intertwined into a net, which runs through all the traditional Chinese culture.

If we want to understand and learn Chinese traditional culture, we must first lay a good foundation for these two theories. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to master Chinese traditional culture.

Yin Yang Theory is a philosophical theory in ancient China. Yin Yang Theory holds that the world is a material whole, and the world itself is the result of the unity of opposites of yin and yang. Yin and yang are one thing or two aspects of one thing that are related to each other. Everything can be divided into yin and yang. Those that are moving, outward, rising, warm, and bright belong to yang, while those that are relatively static, inward, descending, cold, and dark belong to yin.

For example, as far as the internal organs of the human body correspond to yin and yang, the heart and lungs belong to yang, and the liver, spleen, and kidney belong to yin.

What are Yin and Yang?

The Chinese believe that there are two great forces in the universe, one is yin, and the other is yang. Such thinking is obviously abstracted from perceptual intuition.

In terms of the space in which people live, there is sky and earth; in terms of a whole day, there is day and night; in terms of a day, there is sunshine at noon, and there is light dew in the morning and sunset at dusk. In terms of human life, there are vigorous youth and dull old age; in terms of human career, there are good times and adversity times, and so on.

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The Chinese generalize such forces as bright, positive, and controlling as yang, and the dark, negative, and subordinate forces as yin. The two forces of yin and yang are opposed to each other and depend on each other. Without yin, there is no yang, and without the function of yin, all things cannot be transformed by yang alone. The reverse is also true.

Yin and yang influence each other, yang is attractive to yin but also repulsive, and yin is also the same to yang. The interaction between the two makes the universe alive. Yang Qi rises, Yin Qi falls, Yang Qi opens, and Yin Qi closes. One rise and one fall, one opening and one closing, constitute the momentum of the universe. The root of all changes comes from the function of these two kinds of Qi.

Yin Yang Theory holds that the world is a material whole, and everything in nature includes two opposite aspects of yin and yang, and the opposite sides are unified with each other. The movement of the unity of opposites of yin and yang is the fundamental reason for the occurrence, development, change, and demise of all things in nature.

Yin and yang can be transformed into each other, and at the same time, the two are interdependent. That is to say, each aspect of yin and yang takes the other aspect as the premise of its own existence. Without yin, yang cannot exist; without yang, yin cannot exist. Just as without heaven, there would be no earth. Yin and yang are interdependent and mutually beneficial.

Yin Yang Theory is dialectical thinking and a tool used to help people understand the laws of nature. This is China’s unique culture, which is why the development of Chinese culture coexists with both explicit and implicit, and it has been continuous for thousands of years.

Yin and yang are the concepts of unity of opposites in the process of the development of things. Yin and yang refer to a pair of things or two aspects of a thing that are related to each other. Anything can be divided by the attributes of yin and yang, but it must be for a pair of things that are related to each other or two aspects of one thing for this division to have practical significance.

Suppose the two things being analyzed are not related to each other or are not two opposite aspects of unity. In that case, yin and yang cannot be used to distinguish their relative properties and their interrelationships.

The yin and yang properties of things are not absolute but relative. On the one hand, this relativity shows that under certain conditions, yin and yang can be transformed into each other. That is, yin can be transformed into yang, and yang can also be transformed into the yin. On the other hand, it is embodied in the infinite divisibility of things.

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The basic contents of the yin-yang theory include six aspects: the integration of yin and yang, the opposites of yin and yang, the mutual rooted and use of yin and yang, the interaction and mutual storage of yin and yang, the growth and decline of yin and yang and the transformation of yin and yang.

1. The integration of yin and yang

The integration of yin and yang means that yin and yang exist in the same thing. Everything in the world has two opposite aspects of yin and yang. Everything is composed of the attributes of the two opposite aspects of yin and yang. Everything is composed of two parts with different properties.

2. The opposites of yin and yang

The opposites of yin and yang mean that yin and yang properties are opposed to each other, such as upper and lower, heaven and earth, movement and stillness, rise and fall, etc.

Among them, the upper belongs to yang, and the lower belongs to yin; the heavens yang, and the earth is yin; movement is yang, and stillness is yin; Rising is Yang and falling is yin. The nature of up and down, heaven and earth, movement and stillness, rising and falling are completely opposite.

3. The mutual rooted and used of yin and yang

The mutual rooted and used of yin and yang means that the opposite sides of yin and yang are interdependent, and neither can exist independently of the other. If the upper is yang, the lower is yin, without the upper, there is no lower, and without lower, there is no upper; If heat is yang, cold is yin. Without cold, there is no heat. Without heat, there is no cold.

Therefore, yang depends on yin, yin depends on yang, and each party takes the existence of the opposite party as the condition for its own existence.

4. The interaction and mutual storage of yin and yang

The interaction and mutual storage of yin and yang can be understood from two aspects: Yin Yang interaction and mutual storage.

Yin-yang interaction refers to the interaction of yin and yang and the interaction of mutual induction and interaction during the movement. Yin Yang interaction is the root of the existence and change of all things in the universe.

The mutual storage of yin and yang means that any one of the opposite yin and yang sides contains the other side. That is, there is yang in yin, and yin in yang. Everything in the universe contains two elements with different attributes, yin and yang. Things that belong to yang have elements that belong to yang, and things that belong to yin also have elements that belong to yang.

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5. The growth and decline of yin and yang

The growth and decline of yin and yang means that the oppositional constraints and mutual use of yin and yang are not static but are always in the process of growth and decline, in which Yin and Yang achieve a dynamic balance. This growth and decline change is absolute, while the dynamic balance is relative.

For example, during the day, when the yin is prosperous, the physiological function of the human body is also dominated by excitement. When the yin is prosperous at night, the body’s physiological function is correspondingly dominated by inhibition. From midnight to noon, the yang Qi gradually increases, and the physiological function of the human body gradually changes from inhibition to excitation. That is, yin declines and yang grows, and from noon to midnight, yang Qi gradually declines, and the physiological function of the human body gradually changes from excitation to inhibition. Yang declines, and yin grows.

6. The transformation of yin and yang

The transformation of yin and yang means that the two sides of yin and yang can transform into each other under certain conditions. When they reach the extreme, things will turn against each other.

For example, due to the extremely heavy heat toxin, some acute febrile diseases consume a lot of energy and damage the body. In the case of continuous high fever, they can suddenly have symptoms such as hypothermia, chilly limbs, and a faint desire to pulse, which is the manifestation of Yang Syndrome into Yin Syndrome.

It can be said that the growth and decline of yin and yang is a process of quantitative change, while the transformation of yin and yang is a process of qualitative change. The growth and decline of yin and yang is the prerequisite for the transformation of yin and yang, and the transformation of yin and yang is the result of the growth and decline of yin and yang.

The integration of yin and Yang, the restriction of opposites of yin and yang, and the mutual root and use of yin and Yang are the basic attributes of the form of existence of things. In comparison, the interaction and mutual storage of yin and yang, the growth and decline of yin and yang, and the transformation of yin and yang are the basic attributes of the development and change of things.


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