The Yellow Emperor reportedly said, “Heaven was created by the concentration of Yang, the force of Light; earth, was created by the concentration of Yin, the forces of Darkness. Yang stands for peace and serenity, but stands for destruction and brings about disintegration. Yin stands for confusion and turmoil, but stands for conservation and brings shape to things.”
The forces of yin and yang are complementary and contrasting principles with each holding what the other lacks, bringing about wholeness and balance to the world. Many in the Western world see Yin/Yang in the connotation of good versus evil, or the struggle of opposites. When really, Yin/Yang represents the harmony of contrasting principles and the dependence on each other to exist. Good relies upon evil in order to be good. And evil relies upon good in order to be evil. One cannot be without the other. Understanding this principle of balance I reconsidered my ideas as they relate to the correlation of evil/Satan, and good/God. I thought about the Book of Job and how Satan is portrayed as an agent of God. And I thought about how the Hebrews considered Satan as “Ha-satan”, the force of adversary. It changed my perspective on biblical verses which mention Satan, the adversary, and the devil. I no longer see Satan/the devil as a “being”, but the inclination within our inner self to desire decadence over our sense of what we consider moral. I think the concept of yetzer ra in Judaism, and of Mara in Buddhism most closely parallels my thoughts on “the adversary”. But that is opinion for another post.
In the matter of keeping my faith, the principles of Yin/Yang have been a significant factor acting as a detractor for the arguments of nonbelievers that only the rational and logical mind can prevail in knowing what is true and real, and through scientific discoveries we will soon understand beyond all reasonable doubt that the supernatural is not anything other than a fiction of the mind.
I regard everything in life as seemingly the result of Yin/Yang. There is no right without the left. There is no light without the dark. There is no good without the bad, no joy without grief, no hope without despair, no love without hate, no truth without deception, no life without death and so forth. If this is true then there is no logic without the illogical, no rational without the irrational, and no understanding without that which cannot be understood.
The principal of Yin/Yang causes me to consider faith and the role of doubt in maintaining it. There cannot be faith without doubt because doubt is what makes it become faith. There would be little reason to have faith if doubt did not cause the uncertainty that faith requires to exist.
Today I saw something that I considered to be a lovely visual of how I understand Yin/Yang. As I was walking in the woods behind my home I spotted above the ground a beautiful yellow butterfly lightly flapping its wings. I noted that it seemed to be perched upon a stick. As I grew closer I saw the stick was not a stick at all. And I thought how is it that one of the most beautiful and delicate creations in nature is perched upon a pile of stinking poop, fluttering its wings gently as if in joyful dance. It would seem more in balance for such a beautiful butterfly to be resting upon an equally beautiful flower. Being a southerner I know that butterflies love cow patties. But in this moment, I realized that beyond the natural explanation that butterflies absorb nutrients from animal waste, is the visual perfection of Yin/Yang, a contrast in perfect balance.