The Principle of Yin and Yang

Yin Yang

The “great principle” of Yin and Yang is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and in the Oriental healthcare system. The great principle of Yin and Yang was developed more than three thousand years ago by great sages and scholars.

Yin and Yang are the two opposing components of one integrated whole. These two opposing forces are totally interdependent, interacting constantly so as to maintain the normality and integrity of the whole. Each in turn tends to dominate over the other, but no total dominance is permanent. No matter how dominating one side appears, eventually the other will take its turn as the dominant force. This interplay of opposing forces establishes the basis of all existence and all change.

The Law of Yin and Yang describes the innately dynamic, cyclical, bipolar, pulsing, rhythmic nature of everything in the universe. It is a very simple concept to grasp, although many people find it foreign and difficult at first. To some degree it may be understood intellectually, but fundamentally it must be grasped intuitively. The universe expands and contracts. Light and sound move in waves that are pulsing. The earth turns on its axis resulting in a multitude of rhythmic manifestations here on earth. Human sleeping/ waking cycles, seasonal changes and the millions of microscopic cycles that support these daily and seasonal changes are the result of the larger (macroscopic) cycles in our solar system, galaxy and super-galactic systems.

Within our bodies our hearts beat, our lungs inhale and exhale, our glands secrete hormones, and our bowels and bladders excrete waste rhythmically. Our eyes each dominate for several minutes at a time, rhythmically. Indeed, virtually every human function follows rhythmic patterns. These rhythms are described and explained by the Law of Yin and Yang.

What are these forces called Yin and Yang? Yin is defined as that part of a cycle or process in which energy is being accumulated, assimilated and stored for later use. Yang is defined as that part of a cycle or process in which energy is being expended in order to create a manifest action. Thus Yin is often associated with rest, receptivity and quietude, while Yang is associated with action, creativity and movement. But Yin should not be thought of as the absence of Yang. Nor should it be automatically associated with weakness. Yin is, in fact, the very substance of life, and it is absolutely essential to all functioning. Yang on the other hand is the functional, active aspect of any process and is also essential to life. Yin and Yang are relative concepts, and they always exist together. They are different aspects of the same thing or process, two sides of the same coin.

The relationship of Yin and Yang is never static. Though the two forces are actually acting in harmony with one another, they are also always competing with one another for dominance. First one dominates, then the other in its appropriate time. Under normal circumstances, the interaction of the two forces will remain within well-defined limits. Yin provides sustenance for the Yang and the Yang protects the Yin.

Neither Yin nor Yang will normally go to such an extreme that its opposing force cannot recover. However, if for some reason Yin or Yang exceeds the limits normally inherent in the system, the self-regulatory mechanism breaks down and crisis ensues, perhaps leading to the breakdown of the system. In human physiology, such a breakdown is synonymous with illness or even death.

Health is dependent upon the maintenance of the correct balance of Yin and Yang forces in the body and psyche. Neither Yin nor Yang should increase or decrease beyond normal limits. Through the regular consumption of Chinese tonic herbs, it is believed possible to help the bodymind maintain its self-regulatory capacity, assuring optimum functioning and “glowing health.” This is the very basis of Chinese tonic herbalism.

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