Faith and Doubt / Insight

No Yin Without Yang

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.”

Yin and yang blue

Yin and yang blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


20 thoughts on “No Yin Without Yang

  1. Funny you mention butterflies on poop.

    Yesterday after pushing through some foliage I noticed three beautiful, hibernating, red, black and white butterflies had attached themselves to my jumper.

    Hang on a minute!
    What did I just say about myself?

    (BTW, when you do a post with an imbedded picture the text displays on my screen in such incredibly tiny font I’d need a microscope to read it unless I copy/paste it into a word processor. Has anyone else mentioned that?)

    • Ha, ha! I once had a fly lay what appeared to be tiny maggots on my knee!
      Is it just this one post that had tiny print or all of them? I use the Zemantics photos provided by word press for the photos inside the post but I wasn’t aware that they make my print small. I may have to make sure my print is larger from here on.

      • I suspect that changing the font wouldn’t help. It looks to me that the font size is coming from a style-sheet and the problem is that some of the style sheet parameters are failing to load.

        This is likely to be a problem at my end. I am stuck with a ridiculously slow internet connection and have trouble loading lots of web pages.

        It’s just that I only see that particular problem 1. on your blog and 2. when you imbed a picture.

        I don’t follow any other blogs that use the ‘Sight’ theme and think that may be related.

        But unless you hear other people complaining I see no reason to address it. I follow you by email and can read the text there. For your earlier posts I can copy/paste into a WP file and read it that way.

        I only raised it on the off chance that more people than I were seeing this problem.

  2. “In the absence of that which is not, that which is, is not.” From Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. A quote that had a profound impact on me and helped me to appreciate contrast, and continues to be of help as things become increasingly… contradictory, in my experience.

    It seems again our contemplations are running along similar trajectories. My post today on forgiveness talks a lot about appreciating contrast. I even made a similar analogy in a recent conversation with a friend, except using trees instead of butterflies.

  3. Hey props to the South (Alabama here)!

    The Jewish conceptions of satan, especially the hasidic or othereise mystical, are indeed damn interesting. I personally think Wester Satan is an artefact from the Greek (after all we gave him a freaking trident). Its all nice that the Jews just outright admit the problem of evil and stare it in the face rather than such nonsense acrobatics to do with it in Western Christianity.

    On ying and yang though I actually disagree with you that evil is needed for god or that such dualities are necessitated in reality. For instance, we could have simply more or leas good. I think the Tao teh Ching is incorrectly interpretted to mean that such oppositea actually exist (imho), but rather it was using the demonstration of such dualities to show that these are contrived notions, and that reality is really just a spectrum or simply a matter of our definition. Either way it’s a good read for us Westerners I think.

    • For instance, we could have simply more or leas good.

      Doesn’t work.

      After a while your perception of what’s good and what’s evil will shift to bring it back into balance.

      Same with all the other dualisms that make up the phenomenological universe. Light/darkness, happiness/sadness, wealth/poverty, pleasure/pain …

      I learned that many years ago from a Master who came to Australia from the East.

      • I sense a little a priori there though in that we need stick with a definition that will inevitably make it so, and with said shift. If we have constructs that are not defined by dualistic principles (which we do), and we are at liberty to imagine a fanciful universe of our liking (i admit i’m doing this), I see no resume to presume it inconceivable. Unlikely is fine enough, but philosophically “impossible” is a bold statement.

      • If we have constructs that are not defined by dualistic principles (which we do),

        Do tell.

        Seems to me that constructs are conditioned (by definition) and are ergo dualistic.
        You can’t build Oneness.

      • An iphone, or most of the objects in the room either of us is in for that matter. I don’t see that as building “Oneness” though, nor any need for such. They are what they are: helpful labels.

      • Huh?

        Are you seriously suggesting an iPhone is non-dualistic?
        Nothing is separate or distinguishable from your iPhone?
        Your iPhone cannot be negated in part or whole?
        It is either indivisible or every part of it contains the whole?

        Wow, I knew Apple fans were devoted but this takes it to a whole new level.

        Do you know what I’m talking about when I say non-dual?

      • I’m sorry cabrogal, but talks where “the” answer is already so deeply pocketed by one party to the point of snarkyness bore me. I’m out, but I shall still tip my hat to you on the way.

    • I live in Tennessee. Your thoughts are interesting and something for me to think about. I believe the philosophy addresses temporary imbalances through yang or yin deficiencies, etc, but that it will always fall back into balance, but I haven’t thought about it in the way that you have. (To be honest I haven’t put much effort into reading yin/yang for awhile. It was just that butterfly that made me decide to post on it as I understand it and relate it to my changing perspectives.) But I always enjoy thinking about something from another point of view.

      • You might enjoy the book. It also is one of those can just be entirely frustrating and make you want to throw it down calling BS. It is really short though, and are they are some really beautiful and cheap versions available.

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  6. The idea that everything is a balance is bang on with my understandings of how things work. It’s clear as day early on in the Old Testament where the kingdoms were yo-yoing from being humble and “close to God” to being arrogant and away from God. I also find that it goes to show that forgiveness was already in place long before Jesus, which makes believing in Jesus for God’s forgiveness rather unnecessary.

    And of course, as I always seem to reference when talking about this subject, Newton’s law of motion that states “every action has an equal or opposite reaction”. It’s the yin and the yang scientifically proven.

    I am actually not all too concerned with the strong polarities of opinions that people seem to hold in so many realms these days. The balance seems due to swing in favour of those who are more moderate in their understandings.

    • I hadn’t thought about Newton. Great point!
      I think you make a valid point about forgiveness being shown long before Jesus. There are so many brutalities found in the OT that instances where God forgives transgressions are left out of the discussion.
      I don’t personally give much time to extremists whether they are religious or not. They always seem to regurgitate the same tired discussion with little hope of original or new thought. I am looking more for a dialogue of possibility.

  7. Southern Baptist here, more recently turned spiritualistic.
    I have always used the theory of the yin and the yang. This article was very refreshing to read and I never quite thought about it in a religious sense. Also I will agree that you cannot define goodness without having something to contrast it with. Otherwise you have a single concept. Dare I pose the question that this theory applies to The Good Lord Himself? My mom always told me when I was a little girl never to question such things about God. That it was a sin! Lol… I give God full credit for giving me wisdom and curiosity.

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