Yin-Yang: a Taoist Symbol

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Yin-Yang: A Taoist Symbol
It's everywhere. The classic yin-yang symbol, seen more and more these days, is a circular symbol, half-black and half-white, with a small dot of white on the black side, and a small black dot on the white side (see example in Appendix A). It is recognized by most people. This symbol is also called the Tai Chi Tu. The term "yin-yang" is drifting into popular speech, usually along such lines as, "Well, everything has its yin and yang side." Many believe that this symbol represents balance, peace or harmony. Others believe that it means there is a little bad in the good, and a little good in the bad, which would ultimately mean that there is no absolute good or evil. What does the yin-yang symbol mean to Taoism? Methodology Statement

The methodology for answering the question "what does the yin-yang symbol mean to Taoism" is researching academic articles, books, and websites for the Taoist meanings found in the yin-yang symbol. Origins of yin-yang

The terms yin and yang originally referred to the dark and sunlit sides of a mountain, respectively. The shadowy and sunny sides of the mountain combine to make a unified whole. They are not separate and do not struggle with one another. Furthermore, the very perception of both a dark and light side of the mountain is made possible by a powerful source of constant energy. (Feuerstein).

While the contrast theory is integral to early Taoist theory, yin-yang theory, though compatible, was not a central part of the early philosophy. Classical thinkers barely mentioned the originator of yin-yang cosmology, Zou Yan. The Laozi uses the terms yin and yang only once in passing in only two of the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi. Yin-yang was most prominent in the Yi Jing (I Ching, or Book of Changes). The association of yin and yang with Taoist ideas actually stems from the most influential early commentator of the Daode Jing, Wang Bi, who wrote after the fall of the Han dynasty. He treated the Yi Jing and the Daode Jing as a single system. (Chan 1995). Origins of yin-yang became associated with Taoism, a religion widespread in China several hundred years before Christ's incarnation on earth. In Taoism, the Tao, loosely translated as "the Way" or "the Path", is the origin of all things and the ultimate reality. As is true in many Eastern religions, this concept is not to be grasped intellectually since it describes a reality beyond the intellect. Therefore, according to Taoist teachings, the truth of the Tao can only be understood indirectly or through a process of enlightened living. Happiness is gained by living in the flow of the Tao, which is the flow of the universe. This belief has no personal God. Where do the yin and yang come in? "Through the dynamics of yin and yang, the female and male cosmic principles, the Tao creates all phenomena. Whereas the Tao is perfectly harmonious, the cosmos is in a state of constant disequilibrium" (Feuerstein, 146). "It represents the balance of opposites in the universe. When they are equally present, all is calm. When one is outweighed by the other, there is confusion and disarray" (Taoism). One source explains that it was derived from astronomical observations which recorded the shadow of the sun throughout a full year (Where). The two swirling shapes inside the symbol give the impression of change - the only constant factor in the universe. One tradition states that yin (the dark side) represents the breath that formed the earth. Yang (the light side) symbolizes the breath that formed the heavens. The most traditional view, found in most sources, is that yin represents aspects of the feminine: being soft, cool, calm, introspective, and healing... and yang the masculine: being hard, hot, energetic, moving, and sometimes aggressive. Another view has the yin representing night and yang' day (Where). However, since nothing in nature is purely black or purely white, the symbol includes a small black spot in...
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