Friday, March 26, 2010

The Yin-Yang Symbol

The central symbol of Taoism is the yin-yang. In Western thought, we see good and evil, black and white, male and female as opposites. In the yin-yang, there are no sharp dichotomies. Rather, there is a sense of balance, flow and interrelationship.

The yin-yang teaches us that life is complex. While we may want to see things in clear, simple terms of black/white or good/evil, the truth is that both of these sets of "opposites" are present in us and, often, at the same time.

In the yin-yang there is a "both and" rather than an "either/or." I find this a helpful way of understanding reality and humanity. For example, there is a tendency in our highly polarized political process to demonize those who are on the "opposite" side. Each political party views the other as totally in the wrong. Yet, the reality is that each side has some good and bad, some truth and delusion.

Spiritually, the yin-yang can help us understand the complexity of our spiritual life. The spiritual realm is not separate from the physical world and vice versa. Spiritual and material are intertwined and interrelated. For a full and whole life we need both spiritual and material. Balance and flow are the nature of reality.

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