Yin Yang is perhaps the most known and documented concept used withing Taoism.
Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. We encounter examples of Yin and Yang everyday. As examples: night ( Yin) and day ( Yang ), female ( Yin) and male ( Yang ). Over thousands of years, quite a bit has been sorted and grouped under various Yin Yang classification systems.
The symbol for Yin Yang is called Taijitu. Most people just call it the yin yang symbol in the west. The taijitu symbol has been found in more than one culture and over the years has come to represent Taoism.
Basic concepts defining the nature of Yin Yang
Neither Yin nor Yang is absolute
Nothing is completely Yin or completely Yang. Each aspect contains the beginning point for the other aspect. For example, day becomes night and then night becomes day. Yin and Yang are interdependent upon each other so that the definition of one requires the definition for the the other to be complete.
Additional principles that define Yin and Yang qualities exist.
The concepts listed here are merely a staring point to illustrate the nature of Yin and Yang. Usually, as a practice, Taoism does a good job of not codifying life. Ironically, this wasn’t true about Yin Yang, since over history many Taoist’s have tried to codify what is Yin and what is Yang. Typically Taoist texts will list a few examples of Yin and Yang and then meander off to the next topic. As an example go back to the Taoist passage quoted above from the Tao Te Ching. You will discover a few additional aspects to Yin and Yang, but the reading isn’t a complete definition either. The author of this passenger fully expects you as the reader to go out to explore the ideas on your own.
Yin Yang can be subdivided into additional Yin and Yang aspects.
For example, a Yang aspect of heat : can be further subdivided into a Yin warm or Yang burning.
The balance of Yin Yang can be skewed due to outside influences
Four possible imbalances exist :
The summation of Yin and Yang form a whole
One effect of this is as one aspect increases the other decreases to maintain the overall balance of the whole.
Yin Yang is not static
The nature of Yin and Yang flows and changes with time. A simple example is thinking about how the day gradually flows into the night. However, the length of day and night are changing. As the earth ages, its spin is slowing causing the length of day and night to get longer. Day and night are not static entities. Sometime changes in the relationship between Yin and Yang can de dramatic where one aspect can just transform into the other. As an example : Some species of fish have females that transform quickly into males when the population of males isn’t enough.