Yin Yang Symbol



Modified: 31 May 2023

yin yang symbol

The Yin Yang symbol and its origin date back to the Yin dynasty and the Western Zhou dynasty. The main belief surrounding the ancient symbol focuses on how everything in the universe exists in harmony. Chinese culture cultivated a complex meaning behind the relation of Yin and Yang. It’s commonly believed that the Yin and the Yang are opposites complementing each other to create a harmonious balance. Something whole created out of two halves.

With such a long background, the true meaning behind the Yin Yang symbol comes out as vague. Different practices and religions use the ancient symbol as part of their teachings. Then, people who found balance with the principle of the Yin and Yang would have the ancient symbol tattooed on their bodies. The Yin Yang symbol played such a significant role in their lives for them to make it part of their lives permanently. Now, why does a simple black-and-white symbol mean that much to people? Why are some people so invested in finding balance in their lives with the Yin Yang symbol? We’re just as intrigued as you. To quench our curiosity, we compiled information we gathered about the ancient symbol.

Table of Contents

Discover the Philosophy Surrounding the Yin Yang Symbol

yin yang symbol, balance
Image from Pixabay

The Yin Yang conveys the attraction of two contrasting forces that go well together. Everything in the universe that seem to contradict each other brings balance and prosperity. The Yin Yang symbol also plays an important part in Chinese culture and philosophy. The earliest inscriptions of Yin (阴) and Yang (阳) emerged on the remains of oracle bones. Back then, Yin and Yang described the sun’s movement and the different weather conditions. Yin symbolized the sun’s absence during the night, while Yang indicates the sun’s presence during the daytime. Because of this, peasants relied on the ancient symbols for their daily routines.

At first, people used the two characters separately. When Yin-Yang School opened during the 3rd Century BCE, the Yin Yang meaning we’re familiar with came from ancient philosopher Zou Yan (or Zhou Yan). He represented and possibly founded the Yin-Yang School during the 3rd century BCE. Ancient Chinese scholars who attended the school eventually called it the School of Naturalists. Their teachings included the Yin-Yang theory wherein life repeatedly revolved through the five phases (Wuxing 五行).

The meanings of Yin and Yang eventually changed throughout the centuries. We compiled a list of some of the most common terms associated with the Yin and Yang Symbol. Here’s how it turned out:

  • Moon-Sun
  • Tiger-Dragon
  • Feminine-Masculine or Male-Female
  • Black-White
  • North-South
  • Even-Odd
  • Poor-Rich
  • Cold-Warm
  • Water-Fire
  • Soft-Hard
  • Valleys-Mountains
  • Old-Young
  • Dark-Light
  • Spirit-Form

Modernizing the Yin Yang Meaning

yin yang art, yin yang symbol
Image from Adobe Stock

The Yin Yang Symbol pops up in a lot of modern artwork nowadays. Different artists find inspiration with the ancient symbol’s profound meaning. Now, I guess you’re wondering how artists incorporate the principle into their work. Not all of the recent artworks in exhibits are in black and white. But, you have to remember that Yin Yang works alongside the elements as well. The concept of the pairing of elements under the ancient symbol fascinates almost every artist nowadays. You can witness this in Salvador Dali’s Alchimie des Philosophes. The balance remains distinct in the middle of flashy bright colors. A sort of calmness amidst the chaotic array of colors.

With the recent fame of reading natal charts, some astrologers use the Yin Yang principle to study the alignment of the stars. Western astrology focuses on the person’s exact moment of birth. On the other hand, Chinese astrology bases its readings on the duration of the lunar calendar. Despite the contrast of the two studies, astrologists combine the opposite makes of Western and Chinese astrology before concluding their zodiac readings. This helps them give a more elaborate outlook on their clients.

Other people apply Yin and Yang to how they perceive events that unfolded throughout the years. You can notice it when successful people like celebrities do their best to stay humble amidst fame. Remembering to pay it forward creates a sense of balance. Unfortunately, this explains why we can never achieve World Peace. To achieve peace and understanding, you have to give way to chaos and danger.

Find and Maintain the Yin-Yang Balance

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Nothing in this world comes out entirely Yin nor Yang. Everything exists with a balanced blend of both. Yin and Yang depend on each other like night and day. Even if some places on earth have shorter days and longer nights, the concept remains the same. However, instances of the excess of Yin or Yang occur now and then. When it does, the flow of the concept simply lets it transition back into balance. You can’t achieve success without experiencing your fair share of failures. You also won’t fall in love with “The One” without going through a few heartbreaks. Yin Yang reminds us nothing is truly perfect.

Chaos And Order Vs. Light And Darkness

snow and sea yin yang
Image from Pixabay

The world falling into the balance of Yin and Yang applies to the rise of the Trump Administration. People from other countries, especially the youth, looked up to Barack Obama‘s landslide win as President of the United States back in 2009. Obama became the first black leader of the famed Land of the Free. Unfortunately, the high praises instantly changed when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton as America’s 45th president. Disappointment flooded from foreign countries and American citizens alike. The reign of patriarchy overpowered people’s desire for equality and diversity.  A more promising candidate lost the presidency because she’s a woman. Good doesn’t always win over the bad. People put the United States on such a high pedestal that we forget their countries flaws over feminism and racism.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced people not to take everything for granted. Businesses transitioned to a work-from-home setting to keep their companies afloat. Experts advised children and the elderly to stay indoors to keep themselves from being infected by the virus. Amid the chaos, the earth’s atmosphere became cleaner. With everyone stuck at home, air pollution cleared. The earth puts itself first after providing for humans for centuries. The Yin Yang balance applies to the spread of the Coronavirus. It may sound cruel because of the millions of lives lost but the Yin-Yang concept at play is fairly obvious.

How is the Ancient Symbol Represented Today?

Most people hope to achieve goals deemed impossible. This saying comes to play with most boomer generation than Millenials. Back then, boomers went through various economic declines. Because of this, not a lot of them got to finish college and become rich businessmen or renowned doctors. They always encouraged their children to strive for bigger dreams like becoming a lawyer or becoming a CEO. These extravagant dreams made Millenials tired of working hard to be the best of the best.

Nowadays, young adults just want to find a job they like that helps them pay bills and keep a roof on their heads. Refusing to accept the Yin-Yang balance yielded terrible results. Most boomers dedicated their lives to being the best. Now, their children and grandchildren prefer to just live a stable life. Working to get a lavish lifestyle stopped being their goal.

Incorporating Balance to Your Life with Tai Chi

Chinese man doing tai chi
Image from Adobe Stock

You might encounter the Yin Yang principle if you plan to practice Tai Chi (太极). The symbol they use looks almost the same as the Yin Yang symbol with the black-and-white circle divided in half. Practicing Tai Chi means giving in to a more balanced lifestyle. You get to learn martial art forms while practicing meditation. With this, you get the chance to boost your physical and mental health.

Yin-Yang (阴阳) and Tai Chi (太极) don’t just look the same. You can incorporate Yin-Yang into your life with Tai Chi. Elderly people who practice the forms at parks do so for a reason. They find peace in the benefits of enhancing their balance, posture, and strength. By constantly practicing Tai Chi, you can learn to avoid conflicts and give yourself a much-needed peace of mind. Tai Chi practitioners encourage people to join by showcasing their improved strength, flexibility, and posture. In some cases, the practice helped people who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, vertigo, osteoarthritis, and other pulmonary ailments.