Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yin and Yang

OK, this post was originally going to be about sex, Taoism, and abstinence, but I apparently need to address a misconception. One that's almost as bad, and much more common, than Tao/Dao = Way.

That misconception is what Yin and Yang are. ...Or, rather, that they actually are anything. I remember reading articles that claimed that Taoism is sexist because Yin is both female and evil.

...Except Yin isn't. What Yin is is the opposite and equal of Yang. That's it. Look at it this way: Yin is male and evil and Yang is female and good. Or, perhaps, Yin is female and good and Yang is male and evil. Let's try another one: Yin is up and Yang is down, or Yin is down and Yang is up.

Again, Yin is not female. It's the equal and opposite of Yang, and Yang is the equal and opposite of Yin. Whatever force Yin is used to represent, Yang is the opposite and equal force. If Yin is used to represent female, then Yang represents male. If, on the other hand, Yin is used to represent male, then Yan represents female.

So where did this misconception come from? It seems to me that it comes from an ease of use issue. Early Taoists started using Yin to represent female, and so it became a habit to make it easier for people to understand. This happened with the other concepts people mistake Yin and Yang for being.

Yin and Yang are the equal and opposite of each other, nothing more, nothing less.

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