The yin / yang symbol is ancient. It first appeared
in Chinese historical documents nearly three thousand
years ago. The diagram which most people are familiar
with as the yin / yang symbol is also known as the Tai
The original meaning and characteristics of these
two basic qualities come from: 1) the dark (yin) shady
side of a mountain, 2) the light (yang) sunlit side
of a mountain. In place of the mountain it is considered
that a person is standing and facing away from the sun.
Therefore the front of the body is relatively yin and
the back of the body is relatively yang.
"The One Begets the Two". Chinese philosophers have
over a period of several hundred years differentiated
the chi of the Universe into two forces, yin and yang.
The quality of yang was more rarefied, immaterial and
more vast, it therefore floated upwards to form the
Heavens. Yin was more condensed and material, it sank
down and created Earth. As a theory yin / yang is a
view of the Universe based upon centuries of experience
and observation by the Chinese people.
It should be noted that it is only a theory. However,
it is an all encompassing, yet flexible, theory and
at the same time a simple tool that, once learnt, can
be used to explain any number of phenomena. Its qualities
are not exclusive, but complementary and relative. Life
is not black and white, but a scale of colours ranging
from one end of the spectrum to the other and always
The Yin / Yang Symbol
1. The circle symbolizes the wholeness and infinity
of chi. There is no beginning nor ending, and pervades
through everything. This outer circle is the cosmos
that contains the yang (light) and the yin (dark).
2. The dividing line between the two sectors is a curved
one. This denotes movement and a constant flowing of
yin into yang and yang into yin. It signifies the eternal
motion of the combined elements.
3. Within the largest portion (when it has peaked and
grown as big as it possibly can) of each colour there
is a dot of the opposing colour. This can be considered
as a small seed. Therefore we see that there is a small
black dot (seed) in the white section and a small white
dot (seed) in the black section. Everything contains
the seed of its opposite within it. This is symbolic
that all things contain both yin and yang.
4. The two colours are in equal proportion, equally
balanced. When there is more of one aspect, then there
is less of the other.
The relationship of Yin to Yang
Although yin and yang may appear to be opposites, they
only exist by virtue of each other. Things are yin or
yang only in relation to other things. i.e. dark and
light; night and day; earth and heaven; front and back;
down and up; cold and hot. It must be understood that
one thing can be yin to another and yang in relation
to a third, i.e. earth is yin in relation to heaven;
heaven is yang in relation to earth; earth is yin in
relation to the sun (which is hotter) earth is yang
in relation to the moon (which is cooler) Or: tepid
is yin in relation to hot; fiery hot is yang in relation
to hot; icy is yin in relation to cold; moderately cold
is yang in relation to cold.