Yin Yang

Yin Yang is about balance.

In many ethical systems, the right path is the one that does not stray far from the middle. Aristotle preached that virtue was striking a balance between the vices of excess and of defect. A similar concept was presented by Plato, who was influenced by Pythagorean (570 -495 BC) ideas.

The concept of  balance is also an important aspect of  Confucianism since the philosophy of Yin Yang appeared about the same time as Confucius (551 – 479 BC), who wrote of a harmonious life that avoids excesses and deficiencies where wisdom was learned from both the old and the young, the high and the low.

Since Lao Tzu (the founder of Taoism and the concept of Yin and Yang) and Confucius lived about the same time, they may have met and shared thoughts.

The Doctrine of the Mean was a basis for civil service examinations in China from 1312 to 1905.

Confucius

The concept of Yin and Yang applies to many issues of life. In Taoism heaven is masculine and earth is feminine suggesting the dependence of the entire creation upon the Creator.

A whole series of possible interactions between the Yin and Yang in life is contained in the Chinese Book of Changes, the i Ching.

Discover Learning from China’s History

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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2 Responses to Yin Yang

  1. Siva says:

    Lloyd, with all due respect, I beg to differ. Taoism as a branch of Buddhism? Yin and Yang as an important aspect of Confucianism? These all sound so foreign to me. Please check this wiki entry here. I don’t always trust wiki but it does provide some quick and useful answer at times.

    • Thank you for finding that mistake. You are right. I’ll correct that.

      When I was doing research for that post, I must have found some information on the Internet about Yin Yang that was wrong.

      In fact, I just finished a post, which seems to be from a more reliable source, that will appear next month that says Taoism was in China for several hundred years before Buddhism arrived and Taoism helped spread Buddhism because of similarities between the two.

      The concept of Yin and Yang does come from Taoism and Taoism and Confucianism are almost polar opposties that somehow found a way to work together in China.

      However, as I discovered when writing this new post on the subject, all of these philosophies/religions sort of get blended in China. Then Lao Tzu was a contemporary of Confucius and the two may have shared ideas.

      Most Chinese tend to not get too involved 100% with one religion, concept or ideology but seem to borrow from all of them to make sure they are covered for whatever comes after death.

      During the Han Dynasty, it appears that the bureaucrats would practice Confucianism at work and switch to Taoism after work. I’ve also read that Confucianism was more of an urban/city lifestyle and Taoism was practiced more by the peasants in rural China.

      I’m still learning about Taoism.

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