Lesson 74- Yin and Yang
Well, now that I have reviewed my observations about Christmas, New Years and potential and actual existence, we are ready to move on to new observations. However, as I listened to my last tape, I realized that I proposed a question that I never answered. I asked what do the circular and linear views of reality have to do with the principle of recurrence and the principle of change and progress and what do they have to do with the celebration of Christmas and New Years? The answer is that the circular view is a symbol for recurrence because circular patterns keep repeating themselves over and over again and the linear view is a symbol for change and progress because it is always extending itself by adding one more inch.
Christmas, is a symbol for the circular view because every December 25th it repeats itself and New Years is a symbol for the linear view because, following each yearly revolution of the earth, it is a time for new resolutions through which we try to make the world a better place by eliminating person defects from our lives. Thus, like a turning wheel, which is circular, every time the earth completes its yearly cycle, the new year begins with the custom of everyone making vows to make the world a better place by improving themselves, which is linear.
When we add to this the fact that as Christian we believe that Jesus is the Light of Wisdom that has come into the world and that December 25th marks the beginning of the light of the sun coming back into the world as the days grow gradually longer, then it really does symbolize the Judeo/Christian Linear Utopian Concept of History.
If, as Christian, we really understood the significance of these two holidays and made resolutions aimed at making the world as it ought to be rather than those aimed at minor personal habits, then each revolution of the earth would take the world one step closer to the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
How about resolving that in this year we will all improve our efforts to rid the world of pornography, child prostitution in Asia, the drug culture in our own country, the elimination of abortion, the improvement of the environment through the support of groups who are working towards these and other worthy enterprises that make the world a better place.
Probably one of the most important resolution that we all should make is to attempt to bring peace on earth by trying to understand people who are different from ourselves in order that we can better know where we disagree and where we agree. We might discover that they have insights that will benefit our own belief system.
The Churchs position is that, although it alone possesses the fullness of truth, there are other religions and philosophies that contain elements of truth and wherever that occurs, we should be open to them. This is the position that it took when, during the Renaissance, Greek philosophies reentered Europe through our contact with the Arabs following the Crusades. As a result, philosophers like Aristotle introduced concepts like potential and actual existence to Christian philosophers like St. Thomas Aquinas and our faith was enriched by it. As a result, the Church developed a sophisticated philosophy of Natural Law to support its foundation that was based on faith, scriptures, and traditions. Thus, according to the Church, we can know God through faith and reason and therefore we should not be afraid of knowledge because truth is one and in the final analysis there should always be a compatibility between faith and reason.
With this in mind, let me now turn to an ancient Chinese philosophy that was developed by Lao Tsu thousand of years before the birth of Christ. It is of special interest to us because of its connection to the concepts of potential and actual existence which I have just finished discussing.
According to our observations concerning potential and actual existence, things move from potential to actual existence through the relationships that are formed. For example, water moves from potential to actual existence when two atoms of hydrogen form a relationship with one atom of oxygen. When females of any species form a relationship with the males they move new members of their species from potential existence to actual existence. If I form a relationship with positive aspects of my environment, I actualize my positive potential. If I form a relationship with negative aspects, I actualize my negative potential. Thus, I am potentially a successful teacher, when I form relationships that lead me in that direction, or a drug addict, when I form relationships that move in that direction. It all depends on the nature of the relationships that I form. Thus, it is important that we understand the nature of relationships because whatever laws or principles that govern them also govern the movement from potential to actual existence.
Two thousand years before the birth of Christ, the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu, turned his mind towards understanding the nature of relationships. He said that everything that ever came into existence came about through the interaction between two principle: the Yin, or female principle, and the Yang, or male principle. In other words, all relationship represented some type of intercourse and intercourse always involved a relationship between the female and the male.
I am sure that most of you have seen this theory symbolically expressed in the Yin and Yang symbol. It is a circle divided by an S curve in which one side is black with a small circle of white and the opposite side is white with a small black circle in it. According to Lao Tsu the black side represents the female principle of Yin, which contains a little Yang represented by the small white circle in it and the white side represents the male principle of Yang that contains a little Yin represented by the small black circle in it. Thus, it represents what we already know to be true on the biological level. Every female has some male hormones and every male has some female hormones.
However, Yin and Yang goes way beyond biological sexual relationships because they are principles of interaction of which biological sex is just one example. According to Lao Tsu, the Yin, or Female Principle, is anything that receives and the Yang, or Male Principle, is anything that gives. Thus, in all relationships there is a giver and a receiver and it is through their interaction that a third effect results.
You might recognize that this is just another example of a dialectical relationship that I defined previously as occurring whenever two things interact to create a third. You might also see that Yin and Yang, which interact to create a third result, resembles the Hegelian Dialectic in which a Thesis interacts with an Antithesis to create a Synthesis. Furthermore, as a Christian, you might also see that this, like all dialectical relationship, it is another Trinity in which two things interact to create a third.
Once one understands that basic theory of Yin and Yang there are many insights and conclusions that one can make that give us greater insight into our own religion and philosophy. Let me list some:
First, since everything that comes into being, or moves from the potential to the actual, is the result of the interaction between the Yin, or Female Principle, the Yang, or Male Principles, the universe is giving birth to itself through sexual interaction.
Second, Yin and Yang are principles of interaction of which biological sex is only one example. According to Lao Tsu, everything that receives is Yin or Female and everything that gives is Yang or Male. The nature of Yin and Yang is most obvious on the biological level, where the female is Yin because she has been designed anatomically to receive and the male is Yang because he has been designed to give. However, according to Lao Tsu, biological sex is only one example of these principles because we can observe the same type of interaction in many other areas. For example, when I write on a paper, the paper, which is receiving, is Yin and the pen, which is giving, is Yang. When I talk and you listen, then I am Yang and you are Yin.
However, it doesnt end there because the Yin/Yang circle turns and when it does that which was Yin becomes Yang and that which was Yang become Yin. For example, if I look at the pen, which was Yang when writing on the paper, from the perspective of my hand, then it becomes Yin because it is receiving its motion from my hand. However, if I look at my hand from the point of view of the muscles which are moving it, then my muscles become Yang and my hand become Yin. But if I then look at my muscles from the point of view of my brain that is directing the muscles, then my muscles become Yin and my brain becomes Yang. But if I look at my brain from the point of view that you are dictating the letter that I am writing, then you become Yang and my brain becomes Yin. The same is true about talking. When I talk and you listen, then I am Yang, the giver, and you are Yin the receiver. However, if you talk and I listen then our roles are reversed. Thus, in some paradoxical way, every Yin, when looked at from a different point of view, becomes a Yang and every Yang becomes a Yin.
This philosophy, by the way, is the basis for many of the martial arts where its students are taught that you never meet force with force. Force because it is a form of aggression is Yang in nature and, according to this philosophy, you never meet Yang with another Yang. Thus, if you are rushing towards me you are Yang, the giver, and I should become Yin, the receiver. Therefore, as you reach me, I grab you and pull you towards me to indicate my receptivity. Then as your momentum, aided by my pulling, carries you towards me, I suddenly turn, drive my right forearm up under your right armpit and toss you over my shoulder. Now I have become Yang, the giver, and you have become Yin, the receiver.
Thus, Yang to Yang doesnt work and Yin to Yin doesnt work because the nature of all productive relationships is Yin to Yang. Its very similar to the poles on a magnet where the positive to the positive and the negative to the negative pole repels whereas the positive to the negative pole attracts. We might even extend this to biological sex where a male to a male or a female to a female produces nothing while a female to a male results in a child.
Fourth, in order for Yin and Yang to become a progressive experience, the Yang or Male Principle must be dominant to the Yin or Female Principle. Now before all the females out there become enraged because I have said that males must be dominant to females, let me explain. In order to understand what I have said, you have to remember that Yin and Yang are principles not just sexes. Therefore, the Male Principle, or giver must always possess something that the Female Principle, or receiver, lacks if the relationship is going to be progressive. For example, in nature, the females of many species have an instinct to seek out a dominant male because their survival and the survival of their offsprings depend on his ability to control a territory and also to provide strong genetic qualities that will be passed on to their children. Thus, before mating time, the males begin to compete to display their dominance over other males. Those that win these battles attract the females and win reproductive rights. In this way Nature, which is a reflection of the laws of God, assures that the survival of the species will be assured by having the most fit father the next generation. In nature, only a foolish female would make the mistake of mating with a subdominant male and, in most cases, she will pay the price by lessening the chances of her or her children surviving.
Fifth, on the human biological level, Yin and Yang are cemented in flesh and rarely can they be changed. Thus, biologically, a female is always a female and a male is always a male. Thus, on this level, we share in the same instincts that animals have. Our females are also drawn to males who are dominant to themselves and the more dominant the female, the more the dominant the male must be who attracts them.
Thus, most, if not all females, are looking for males who are taller, stronger than themselves or who display some dominant qualities over other males. How else can we explain why our females are drawn to some rock stars who are ugliness personified? In fact, fame in any area becomes a magnet for females who swoon, scream and break into tears as Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley croon or gyrate on the stage. And, of course, we all know how many females throw themselves at sport stars. Even on the high school level, the star athletes have a leg up when it comes to attracting young females who dream of dating the star football or basketball player.
Later, when they mature and understand that most athletes dont make it to pros where they make good money, they begin to be attracted by the guys who have good jobs and can provide a descent living for themselves and their children. Thus, some of the least popular guys in high school end up marrying some of the most attractive girls later in life and that is because, although biological strength and size might be the qualities necessary to survive in nature, a good job and faithful spouse is more important in society. Survival of the fittest doesnt necessarily mean the strongest. What is most fit depends on the conditions necessary for survival. According to Jesus, in the final analysis, only the meek shall be fit to inherit the earth. Perhaps that is because as our weapons become more fearsome and devastating, war and force will be too dangerous for both side and we will finally be forced to resolve our differences through negotiation.
This is not an argument for the right of males to rule females because, as I have mentioned, Yin and Yang are principles of interaction of which biological sex is just one example. The necessity for the male principle to be dominant to the female principle becomes obvious when we look at it the male giver interacting with the female receiver. It is obvious that if the receiver is to benefit from a relationship with the giver, the giver must bring more to the table than the receiver.
Thus, because biological sex is just one of many examples of Yin and Yang, it is possible for the role between men and women on the biological to change when the relationship moves to different levels.
Sixth, on the sociological and psychological levels, Yin and Yang changes with the interaction. For example, when I speak and you listen, I am Yang and you are Yin. However, when you speak and I listen, then you are Yang and I am Yin. Thus, on these levels biological males and females can adopt the role opposite to their biological identity. However, the same rules apply. Whoever assumes the Yang position must be dominant in some quality to the one who assumes the Yin position if the relationship is going to be progressive.
In any given situation, it is possible for a biological male or female to be psychologically or sociologically the opposite of their biological gender. Thus a biological female school principal can be Yang to a biologically male teacher who, because of his position, is Yin. Yet, biologically, she still remains, in principle, Yin to her husband. For example, throughout my teaching career, most of my principals have been black females. I have never had any problem with them having the dominant position because I am not involved in a biological relationship with them. So long as they are competent in their job, I have no problem with the fact that they are female.
The same is true on the home-front. Although my wife on the biological level was attracted to dominant male qualities in me and therefore expected me to be the leader in our relationship, there are times when I must be willing to allow her to take the lead in areas where she is clearly dominant to me. Being a secretary, she is a great organizer and without her my financial records would be a mess. Every year at income tax time, she knows exactly where our records are and she has everything ready for our accountant. Problems arise when biological males, fearing that they will lose their dominance by making concessions to those who are under them, refuse to assume the Yin position when faced with a wife or a child who happens to know more about a certain topic than they do.
Thus, Yin and Yang pay no attention to sex or age, only to the rules of dominance. Whoever is dominant in a given situation is Yang and all those who are subdominant should assume the Yin position. Thus, a child who knows more about a topic than the parents is Yang and they should be Yin. Thus, the old adage that children should be seen, not heard neglects the fact that sometimes even a child might know more about a given topic than the adults. Todays children are computer whizzes and I gladly accept their guidance when I am trying to operate a 21st century device with a early 20th century mind.
Seventh, the secret of progress and growth is knowing when to be Yin and when to be Yang. When someone knows more about a topic that you do, assume the Yin or listening position; when you know more about a topic than the other person, assume the Yang or speaking position. In this way, both persons go away enriched by the interaction.
Eighth, any Yin that interacts with a subdominant Yang will have a regressive outcome. Thus, as a teacher, I must be more dominant in my subject area than my students if they are to progress. If I know less about the subject than they do, or if I only know as much as they do, our relationship will be non-progressive and may even be regressive if I am passing on to them misinformation rather than information. Thus, if we want to progress, the rule is that we must interact with things that are higher than ourselves. That means that the higher the quality of our friends, our entertainment, our relationships, the more we will progress by bring positive potential into existence and, by the same token, the lower the quality, the more we, and the world in general, will regress by bringing negative potentials into existence.
Ninth, if Lao Tsu is correct, everything comes into being through intercourse between the Female and Male Principle. However, there are many types of intercourse. There is biological, social, intellectual, economic etc... Whenever two things interact, they are having intercourse and it always produces a third result by moving a potential into actuality.
Tenth, all good intercourse involves passion in which the passion of one stimulates the passion of the other. Thus, a passionate teacher stimulates the passion of his students and the passion of his students stimulates the passion of the teacher. Thus, it is our openness to receive that indicates our passion. As a teacher and speaker and I can tell you that nothing turns you on as much as the interest of your listeners and nothing turns you off as much as their disinterest. The same thing is true for the speaker. When the speaker lacks passion for his topic, the listeners tend to be disinterested. Thus, if either of them lacks passion, it weakens the passion in the other.
Eleventh, religiously speaking, the greatest Yang principle or Male Principle in the universe would have to be God, since, according to the churches, He is the only being who lacks nothing and therefore can assume only the Yang position of giving. In fact in the Mass there is a line which says that we offer Him praise not because he needs it but because we have a need to give it.
Twelfth, Now I am going to shock you because according to the Bible, God wants to have intercourse with the human race. In the Old Testament, Hosea, a rich man, is told by God to marry a prostitute. He lifts her out of the gutter, takes her home, and treats her with great love and respect. However, every time he turns his back, she goes back to the gutter and cheats on him by having intercourse with that which is lower. Yet, he keeps taking her back. Eventually, it is revealed that Hosea is a symbol for God and the prostitute is a symbol for the human race, which, instead of having intercourse with Him the Highest Good in the universe, sleeps around with things that are lower and subdominant. As a result, they move from the potential to the actual things that are negative and lower rather than positive and higher.
Eventually God grows tire of the whoring ways of the human race and He goes looking for a virgin. Not just a physical virgin but a spiritual virgin who has not had intercourse with sin. Both her body and her soul are pure and without stain. Through the angel Gabriel, He proposes spiritual intercourse with her and asks her whether she is willing to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit of Truth and give birth to His Son, the Wisdom that created the universe.
Now if God is the Ultimate Yang, or giver, then Mary is the Ultimate Yin because of her openness and receptivity. On the biological level, the female show her receptivity by opening her body. On the spiritual level, the female or Yin principle shows its receptivity by opening its heart and mind.
Eve, with her husband Adam, closed down our connection with God through the sin of Pride, which, because it is not open to receive anything, is a Yang attitude. And Yang to Yang doesnt work. Mary, with her Son Jesus, opened up the connection through the virtue of humility that, because it is open to receive everything, is a Yin attitude. Where Eve ate the apple because she wanted to be equal to God, Mary sought only to be His servant. Thus the Ultimate Yin position on the spiritual level is called humility, which, in the Bible, Mary expresses in her prayer, called the Magnificat, which she composed after she had accepted the angels invitation. In Luke 1: 46-53 Mary says,
"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden (servant).
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the
imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their
thrones, and exalted those who are lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty."
The Church says that Mary is the model for all Christians because, we, like her, should allow ourselves to be impregnated with the Holy Spirit of Truth and we too will give birth to Wisdom.
We should not be surprise or offended at the idea that God wants to have intercourse with us. The Bible is full of imagery that suggests this. For example, in the New Testament, Jesus is called the Bridegroom, the Church the Bride, and His Kingdom the Wedding Feast, all of which suggest spiritual sexual intercourse between God and humans.
If progress depends upon the Yin Principle interacting with a dominant Yang in order to reproduce higher results, then what is higher than God, the Ultimate Yang. When we open ourselves spiritually to him through humility, He will reproduce through us those higher qualities that only He possesses.
Finally, I would like to put the finishing touch on the observation by playing a song based on a book in the Bible called The Song of Song. It is probably the most erotic book because it describes God as a lover overflowing with passion for His beloved. The song is entitled Come My Love.
Come My Love... Hear the voice of my beloved gently call at close of day Come my love, O come and meet me Rise, O rise and come away/ Winters dark will soon be over and the rains are nearly done Flowers bloom and trees are budding Time for singing has begun I have waited through the shadows for my Lord to call for me Now the morning breaks eternal In His light His face I see.. Now the morning breaks eternal, and at last His face I see. When you see the beech tree budding you will know the summers near When you hear the words Ive spoken You will know my comings near Keep on listening my beloved for My comings very near