Question 3 – Discuss the religious concept of Yang and Yin. Comment on the importance of this concept for understanding Chinese religion.
An essential part of understanding religion in China is to understand their concept of Yin and Yang. Understanding the Yin and Yang philosophy allows you to have a fuller and better understanding of the Eastern Culture.
This symbol below (Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work. The outer circle represents “everything”, while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two different energies known as “Yin” (black) and “Yang” (White).
The idea is that these two energies are responsible for everything that happens. In Western culture people tend to think that the use of a black and white symbolism defines a clear right and wrong standing. You have often heard the saying “It’s Black or White, you either did it or you didn’t.” That understanding isn’t the true meaning of the Eastern religion. In actuality Yin and Yang are not completely black or white, just as situations in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other. The shape of the yin and yang sections of the symbol gives you a sense of the continual movement of the two energies, causing everything to happen. Fundamentally, Yang is associated with the masculine and Yin with the feminine, but their respective meaning goes far beyond gender.
Yin is considered to be night, earth, autumn, harvest, dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting and weak. Everything that is mysterious is Yin and the symbol to represent Yin is the tiger. Yang on the other hand is considered to be day, bright, sky, spring, active, upward, hot, expanding and strong. The symbol used for Yang is the dragon. Yin and Yang are not opposing forces but in fact are complimentary opposites. They interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. There is no “good” or “evil” between them. Both are neutral, needed by the universe to interact with each other in a balanced way. If you have too much of one or the other it would result in disaster. For example to much rain results in a flood while to much sun can result in a drought. Yin and Yang require a balance of each other so that you have enough rain to grow a garden but also makes sure there is enough sun so it can grow and be harvested.
The Eastern philosophy of the yin yang states that the universe is composed of opposites, and that things move from yin to yang and vice-versa. The views of natural philosophers such as Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles relates in distinctive ways from the Yin and Yang Philosophy. Heraclitus believed that all things are in a stage of change. Parmenides believed that change could never occur. ...
The Chinese philosophy is that there is a true balance in the universe that we all must abide by. This applies to life and nature and the entire planet. We can’t continually take from the earth without giving back as there is no balance and the earth would be left as a carcass. You need to have a balance of men and women in the world for the species to survive. If there were too many of one or the other we would not be able to reproduce and our species would become extinct. The Yin and Yang philosophy makes logical sense in any society as there is always an opposite effect in any scenario.