Thursday, October 12, 2006

Yin and Yang, Male and Female

In the Eastern tradition it is called yin and yang, in the western, generally, it is called male and female. But the ancients apparently put a great deal of emphasis on it. In all the ancient sacred scriptures I have read, the books begin immediately with a description of a sudden change from unity into duality. In the I Ching, the first two hexagrams discuss this, Hexagram one discusses yang, and hexagram two discusses yin. In the Wilhelm Baynes version there is very, very interesting commentary on these first two great hexagrams, which are the bases for all the hexagrams that follow. All that follow have a combination of yin and yang lines. They are mixed. It is the way in which these two great powers interact with each other that determines the positiveness or negativeness of the situation. The two great powers are equal but opposite, yet in their equality it is necessary in their interaction to understand their proper relationship to one another. Their equality does not mean they can act in the same way and have the same result. This is not possible due to the nature of their character.

But there is one thing that must be brought to bear here. In the western world we tend to see things objectively, independently outside of ourselves. We catagorize and quantitize, and call this this and that that. In the Eastern world this is not the case so much, especially before strong western influence came to bear in the East. The East sees things not so much as independent and outside of self, but bearing within from the inner world and not separate but a part of the overall whole. Therefore, yang is yang only in its relationship to something else, and so is yin. Therefore it is not perceptually correct to say, this is yang and that is yin. They are only correspondingly and relationshipfully so. An object we would consider independent therefore is only yang in reference to an object we would in its independence call yin. It is not inherently yin or yang. That is dualistic perception and we must get beyond that. In reality yin and yang are only concepts created by the mind to catagorize a relationship with someting else.

Much dialague can be carried on about this, and will be shortly. In this case, as opposed to previously, I will stick on this subject for several days rather than jump around. It is the building block in many ways to all that goes on in the future.

In the Western world, we have a similar concept, although the concept is in its origin, also Eastern, at least middle eastern, and it has been clouded over to a great deal in the West. In the beginning of the classic book of the Bible, duality is brought into focus by recognizing that "In the beginning, the Logos, God, created the heaven (yang) and the earth (yin). Just to make sure this division is understood it is brought into view again and again within story after story. After God creates the heaven and the earth, he separates the light from the darkness. But to be extra sure we get it, God separates his new creation of mankind from an androgynous being into male and female. Then it gets even more interesting, as we humans have a hard time getting it. So the story is told of Cain and Abel. One being evil, the other good. The story is told over and over again, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his twelve brothers. Got it yet? Good. We will deal with this more. In the Tao Teh Ching we have a slight variation on the same story. The first chapter talks of unity, the second of division. Then in the next seven chapters Lao tzu gives some hints as to harmonizing yin and yang, and in the eigth he comes right out and asks us if we can do it. Here an intersting thing arises, along with the division comes a description of the division of hun and po, soul and spirit. Here he is discussing how a fully integrated individual harmonizes soul and spirit so that they know no separation and as such become of divine being. Traces of this are found in the polynesian tradition too which we will get into later. But unity of soul and spirit are very important, and we will be discussing this.


Michelle said...

Hi Gene,

Synchronicity....I happened to be working with trigram circles earlier this evening, and looked up qian (other readers: this is the pinyin name for the trigram of all yang lines which represents heaven and masculine energies) in the Chinese dictionary. According to the dictionary, the only word this character is used in is qiankun, and kun is the pinyin word for the trigram of all yin lines representing feminine energies and earth.

Together, the characters qiankun mean "the universe." The hidden or implied meaning does seem to be that the universe cannot exist without these pairs of opposites. And yet, as you say, we are asked to integrate and harmonize them.

I am looking forward to your further writings on this subject.

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