Learning from eastern wisdom

Yin and yang and you


(This mini-essay is part of a regular series by Noriko Takigami of the Secretariat of the Research Institute for Creating New Paradigms based on Eastern and Western Wisdom, sharing personal observations from her ongoing study of the Analects of Confucius.)

Ying and yang are important concepts in Eastern philosophy. Everything consists of yin and yang.

The Japanese language has the terms "youki na hito" (yang-type person) and "inki na hito" (yin-type person). (Yin and yang are anglicized pronunciations of the original Chinese, while in Japan they are pronounced in and yo.) In Eastern thought, the meaning of yin relates to energy flowing inward, like "fulfilled," "enriched" or "enlightened." "Yang" has meanings related to energy flowing outward, like "growth" or "expansion." This is not about good or bad, but rather the flow of power or energy.

As I mentioned, everything consists of yin and yang. That also applies to people. I think the important thing is to be tuned in to where you are at the moment, whether it is yin or yang. And whichever state you are in, think about how act in order to live in a fulfilled state.

There is a proverb in Japanese that goes "In kiwamareba you ni tenji, yo kiwamareba in ni tenzu" (After reaching the maximum state of yin the cycle reverses, and after reaching the maximum state of yang, the cycle reverses again). After something goes to one extreme, it reverses. In other words, you will not stay for long in the yin or the yang. When you are in the yin, polish or develop yourself internally to have days of fulfillment, and then when you enter the yang, you can enjoy the yang.

Also, it is important to find a balance between the yin and the yang. As we go back and forth between yin and yang, we shouldn't get stuck on something in front of us, but live our lives with a long-term perspective.