The yin yang meaning and symbol date back to ancient China. The symbol represents the belief that everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary.
The Basic Philosophy of Yin Yang
According to yin yang philosophy, the universe and everything in it are both constant and cyclical. In this infinite cycle, one force dominates and is then replaced by the opposing force. Examples illustrating the yin yang philosophy include:
- Life and death
- Heaven and earth
- Night and day
- Dark and light
- Health and sickness
- Poverty and wealth
- Cycle of the seasons from spring to winter
- Cold and hot
- Positive and negative
The Yin Yang Symbol
The symbol of the yin yang, also known as the Tai Chi or Taiqi symbol, consists of a circle equally divided into black and white sections by a reverse S-like shape. Within the black section is a small circle of white. Within the white section is a small circle of black. Each of the individual aspects of the yin yang symbol has a significant meaning as does the entire yin yang.
The Outer Circle
The outer circle of the yin yang sign represents everything in the universe as well as the universe itself. It encompasses the duality of everything that exists.
The Black Section
The black area represents yin with the following characteristics:
- Female: This energy is the opposite of masculine (yang) energy.
- Passive: Yin energy is restive and receptive.
- Intuitive: The inner sense of understanding life and its nuances resides in yin energy.
- Creative: The yin energy builds up and bursts forth with creativity that motivates yang energy into action.
- Moon: The phases of the moon and movement of the moon affect the yin energies on Earth.
- Dark: The darkness represents the all the expression of yin energy.
- Cold: The lack of light in darkness brings cold. Coldness becomes a respite from heat in light.
- Submission: Yin energy provides a balance against aggressive yang energy.
- Contracting: The ever expanding energy of yang is reined in when balanced with yin's contracting force.
- Downward seeking: The yin cycling part of chic energy always seeks a downward movement.
- Downward movement: Yin energy moves downward in preparation and building up of energy transforming into the rising yang energy. This is the perpetual cycle of chi.
- Night: The absence of day brings the bold and darkness of night; a time of rest.
- Soft: Yin energy is soft, making it flexible and capable of bending and giving.
- Stillness: With the downward movement yin energy becomes quiet and still.
- Still water: Yin energy rests in lakes, ponds, deep waters and only in ebbing tides.
The White Section
The white area represents the yang with the following characteristics:
- Male: Yang is the male energy of chi energy and the opposite of yin (female) energy. Together they complete a balance of chi energy.
- Active: Yang energy is powerful and energetic. It is the energy of creation.
- Active water: Yang energy drives currents in rivers, streams, oceans and the rising tides.
- Logical: Yang energy resonates with the logical mind that tempers the creative mind.
- Enlightenment: Yang energy motivates and inspires to understand and reach enlightenment.
- Bright: A property of the light is its brightness that illuminates the dark.
- Sun: The movement of the sun affects the yang energy on Earth.
- Light: The light follows the dark as night gives over to day.
- Creation: Yang energy is movement and burst forth with aggressive energy.
- Dominance: The yang energy dominates in its strength and massive force.
- Upward movement: A product of the downward movement of yin energy, yang energy blasts upwards.
- Strong: The opposite of yin weakness, yang energy lifts away from yin energy towards fullness.
- Hot: The friction of movement generates heat.
- Expanding: As yang energy bursts free of yin energy, it grows in its upward movement, forever expanding.
- Hard: Where yin is soft and flexible, yang energy is hard and unbending.
- Movement: Yang energy moves upwards and expands.
- Mountains: The mountains rise up from the earth just as yang energy.
The Black and White Sections Together
Together the black and white teardrops represent the interaction of the energies found in all things. They illustrate the cyclical nature of yin and yang and all that it represents as one energy transforms into the other.
The Small Black and White Circles
Located in the areas of their opposite colors, the small circles show that nothing is absolute. In each of the opposing forces there is a small part of the other. In all yin there is yang and in all yang there is yin. This holds true for everything in the universe, for example in every female there is a little male and in every male there is a little female. In every good, there is a little evil and vice versa. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist.
The S-like Shapes of the Two Areas
Instead of a harsh straight line dividing the two halves, the line is a soft S-like shape with flowing curves. Both sides yield to one another and push into each other illustrating the dependence upon each other. As yin swells in size and height, the yang begins to emerge. As yang continues to swell in size and height, yin emerges once again showing that each sustains the other in their never-ending cycle.
Yin Yang Meaning: Harmony and Balance
According to Taoist principles, the forces of everything in the universe are in constant motion. As the movement continues, each of the forces of energy gradually changes into the other, yin to yang and yang to yin. This is the cycle of all energy.
Yin Yang Symbol of Life
The meaning of the yin yang symbol encompasses how, when combined as one, these two opposite energies create harmony and balance within the universe. Theses energies exist in all living matter and are the basis of life since nothing can exist by itself. The yin yang symbol is an excellent interpretation of life and how each action, characteristic, and aspect has an opposite that is its equal. One cannot exist without the other. This requires a positive and a negative to complete the whole.
Two Opposites Make One Whole
When these opposite energies work in unison the way nature dictates, there is a perfect balance. The yin yang symbol of equal halves, one dark and one light, but also opposing forces come together to create and generate energy - life. Yin creates the form and grows it while the yang generates action energy and expands it. This is the bringing together of two halves to make a complete whole.
Importance of Yin Yang in Feng Shui
Yin yang (chi energy) is the driving force of feng shui philosophy. Every aspect of feng shui is focused on maintaining and in all cases re-establishing the balance of yin yang in the home and the surrounding environment. If the chi energy is out of balance in a home or work environment, the occupants can suffer illness, financial loss, career obstacles and relationship problems. Feng shui principles address each of these areas and more through the proper application of remedies designed to restore the harmonious balance between yin and yang energies.
Real Life Examples of Yin Yang at Work
You can witness the perfection of yin and yang in nature. There is birth (spring), growth (summer), aging (fall), and death (winter). The cycle then begins anew with spring. This is nature's cycle of existence in balance and harmony.
Other examples of yin yang:
- Day and night: The turning of the Earth generates the pattern of the rising sun and the setting sun. This generates day and night.
- Rain: This is the water cycle of Earth. Rain is generated from heat, moisture and the upward movement of droplets becoming heavy and then fall in a downward movement.
Feng shui uses the principles of yin yang energy to ensure the chi energy moving in and throughout your home finds a harmonious environment and your home maintains a balance between yin and yang energies. For example:
- Stairs: A staircase in the center of your home will lead to financial losses and destruction of a marriage, but a staircase that is built along an outside wall won't interfere with the flow of chi energy within your home. A staircase in the center of your home creates a hole or funnel that sucks the chi energy out of your home and away from sectors it's needed.
- Obstructed doors: An obstructed front door entrance will prevent chi energy from entering your home. Such an obstruction can result in loss in all areas of your life. A front door that is uncluttered and attractive/inviting will usher in beneficial chi energy.
- Kitchen location: A kitchen located in the front of a home that is seen immediately upon entry or is directly across from the front door will kill chi energy entering your home. A kitchen in the back your home won't kill the chi energy as it enters your home.
Actionable cures for unbalanced yin and yang situations apply to human created issues as well as natural ones. Using feng shui principles, you can avoid creating issues that will then require remedies or cures.
Art Depictions of Yin and Yang Balance
This concept is beautifully illustrated in examples of yin yang art created in many types of art forms. Yin yang art includes subjects such as:
- Tiger and dragon yin yang: This pair represents yin and yang and the duality in life.
- Yin yang suns: Depicting the yin yang symbol as suns reinforces that both are specific energies of life.
- Yin yang dragons: These are dragons and appear to be the same, but one is yin energy and the other is yang. Together they become one in balance and harmony.
- Nature yin yang: This large wall decal in traditional black and white teardrops features a tree within the yin yang symbol.
- Rainbow yin yangs by artist Jeffery Mislove demonstrates the duality of yin and yang energies.
Understanding the Duality of Yin Yang
The meaning of yin yang is illustrated through the duality of nature. When uninterrupted, these natural occurrences signify the perfection of chi energy completed by its two halves, female (yin) and male (yang). This creates balance and harmony in all forms of life.