Life is not a smooth one-way road; it is a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. It has numerous twists and turns- a zigzag trail of finding meaning in the mundane. The ancient Chinese philosophy behind the “Yin-Yang” is the cosmic duality that rules the world. Have you ever wondered what the colors signify in the symbol? It is fairly accurate to assume that black and white indicate the good and bad. What then, is the meaning of the tiny dot of the opposite color that breaks the harmony? The universe is full of dualities, but they exist in perfect harmony despite their contrasting nature.
The earliest mention of the yin-yang philosophy is found in the “Zhouyi,” or “Book of Changes”. It was written in the 9th century BCE by King Wen. The symbol is also called the Tai Chi. It is a circle divided into a black half and a white half by a curved line. A dot of each color is present at the center of the other half. The main idea being, no side is completely “pure” and each will have traces of the other in it. The curvy line is symbolic of there being no rigid boundary between the two opposites. The Tai Chi symbol embodies both sides of life: change and harmony.
“Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow,
Come to-day, and come to-morrow,
I do love you both together!
I love to mark sad faces in fair weather;
And hear a merry laugh amid the thunder;
Fair and foul I love together.”
Keats captures the paradox of life perfectly in his “A Song Of Opposites”. Shelley remarks on how our sincerest laughter is fraught with some pain and how the sweetest songs often talk about the saddest thoughts. It is the duality of nature that is intertwined with human life. There is the promise of dawn and the solitude of dusk, the mirth of spring and sorrow of winter. There is also the potential of newborn and the fulfillment of death.
Oftentimes when something bad happens, we lose all hope and curse our stars. We fail to see the silver lining because of the rain and that leads to despair. It is important to pause and ponder on the particular incident. Did everything that happened made life infinitely worse? Is there no take-away from the whole situation?
Even when something good happens, say acing an exam, we forget to console to those who failed. There is a flip side to everything in life. As the saying goes, if you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table not a taller fence.
Embrace the lesson of Tai Chi and yin-yang and have faith in the balance of the universe. It’ll make life much easier!