Yin and Yang

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Yin and Yang

The foundations of the understanding of T'ai Chi Ch'uan — the 'Supreme Ultimate' or 'Great Ultimate', or (as it is now called in China) the 'Great Extreme' or the 'Great Ridgepole' — are the very simple principles of Yin and Yang, which express the monism and dualism, the singular and plural, the unity and opposition of everything in nature, within our own lives and within our spirits.

We are all one with the Supreme Spirit, yet, at the same time, we still remain our own individual self, so through a very natural principle an automatic duality is created. This duality also applies to everything within the universe, for everything has two sides, a positive and a negative, a back and a front, a top and a bottom. At the same time everything is one within itself, and has its own Yin and Yang relationship. The being one is known as monism; the natural diversity which has been created by the universe gives everything a balance of two as well: this is dualism, Yin and Yang. Because of this simple arrangement, the combination of the two ideas, dual-monism, covers the whole as well as the singular.

Nothing could be more simple than monism within everything, yet the complexity of dualism can often be beyond the imaginations of the mind. By taking things step by step, you will slowly appreciate and understand the various aspects of every single object, and then and only then will the dualist view of everything be made known to you.

Before the universe came into existence there was the void, and from it came the macro-cosmic energy known as Ching Sheng Li. At the very beginning of time, this force divided into two parts under the strict control of the Supreme Spirit, and this duality came to be known as the Yin and Yang. It was after this division that the energy created substance, and so heaven and earth eventually became reality.

The Yin aspect represents the body, soul, femininity, earth, moon, night, darkness, cold, water, contraction and centripetal motion, and has the tendency to flow downwards. Yang, on the other hand, has characteristics that are completely opposite: mind, spirit, masculinity, sun, day, fire, heat, expansion, centrifugal motion and an upward direction of flow. One very important thing to notice is that nothing is entirely Yin or entirely Yang, for where there is the one there will always be a small part of the other.

Never make the mistake of thinking that everything can be classed as totally Yin or Yang, as this would be wrong. Nothing is absolute. These are general tendencies, and they represent differences between all phenomena that exist within the universe. That is why the ancient Chinese Taoists represented the balance of the two through the flow of energy within ourselves as:

This shows very clearly that within the one there is always a certain amount of the other.

The monad or monism which is associated with Yin concentrates on the one and the unity of all things, within the universe and within ourselves. The duad or dualism is connected with Yang and it automatically recognizes the diversity and duality within all things. For example, a coin could be thought of as Yin, but because a true coin has two sides — a head and a tail — it is also Yang in contrast. There is always a harmony of one with two, of singular with plural, of monism with dualism.

Dual-monism comprehends the separateness and yet the unity of all things. Since we know that nothing is entirely Yin or Yang, but a combination of both, when the two are combined entirely together we have the complete vision, the total perception, the combined harmony and the full understanding. In the recognition of this harmony we can appreciate the contrasts of Yin and Yang, and the changes that take place within nature.

All things move to infinity, but are still infinitesimal. Yet being infinitesimal they pertain to the infinite. Whilst they may be separate they are still one, yet in their separation they are completely harmonized.

In the Taoist arts both monism and dualism are symbolized by triangles, the one being an inversion of the other. The universe is symbolized by a circle, and this is seen as embracing the Yin and Yang within all things:

This symbol stands for everything within and outside the cosmos — heaven and earth, nature and humanity, and all phenomena both known and yet undiscovered. All are one — this is the Tao.

The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan by Chee Soo - Chapter 3 Yin and Yang page 25

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The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2003 reproduced with permission