Yin and Yang For the Rest of Us

April 23rd, 2014




To a mind separated from the Self, the infinite oneness of who we are can only be understood through the separation of opposites.

This separation is the origin of our illusion.

The great achievement of the Yin/Yang model lies in its ability to describe this illusion while hinting at the truth beyond.[1]







Since ancient times we humans have tried to understand and describe the world in a way that makes sense to us and can be shared with others. The twin, complementary opposites of yin and yang is one attempt at modeling reality for this purpose.


Even the virtual reality modeled inside a computer uses a binary code – which in turn reflects the mindset of the humans who made the computers…


Yin and yang is usually misunderstood however by these assumptions:


  • That it is a bland list of static opposites (light/dark, hot/cold, masculine/feminine, positive/negative and so on)
  • That, while of historical or cultural interest, yin and yang’s quaint, old notions have little relevance to modern life.


On the contrary, yin and yang describes an ever-changing dynamic that is highly relevant to our lives both at the personal and collective level.


The dynamic of yin and yang are demonstrated through what are called the Seven Universal Principals first summarized by the ancient Taoists. The list describes different qualities of yin and yang applied to the natural world – which of course includes human beings.


We will now take a look at these ancient ideas from the perspective of our life today.



The Seven Universal Principles of Yin & Yang


Everything is a differentiation of One Infinity

Everything changes

There is nothing identical

What has a beginning has an end

What has a front has a back

The bigger the front, the bigger the back

All opposites are complementary




Everything is a differentiation of One Infinity



“We are all made of stars”[2]


(artist unknown)

(artist unknown)



While yin and yang describe duality, they arise out of unity. Unity (at any level) is joy. It creates a longing that we express in a number of ways:


  • Unity through belonging: in family, community and family-like structures (religions, institutions, corporations, the military and so on)
  • Unity through love: ”My sweet-heart.” “My own flesh and blood.”
  • Unity through trans-personal experience:”I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”[3]


So strong is this innate sense of unity and oneness that the experience of separation – loss of a loved one; exclusion from a group; feeling lost in ourselves – causes us emotional and even physical pain. Such pain can lead some to create another pain to avoid it and we head into illness via self destructive patterns:


  • Addictions – food, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling and so on.
  • Obsessive and Compulsive behavior – anorexia, bulimia, cutting/self mutilation, repeated cosmetic surgery, over-training, over-work.


In order to heal, at any level, we must be made whole again. One of the best ways I have found is through conscious touch. This focuses on creating unified fields from segregated and blocked energy in the body-mind. It is one of the most simple and profound methods I have yet discovered.


At its core is the application of this first universal principle – that who we are and where we come from is oneness. This is why, I believe, touch has such a calming effect. It reminds us of something that we have always known.






Everything changes


‘The only constant is change.’ goes the saying. There is also the saying: ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ So which is it?


In the body we have a mechanism that uses both of these to keep us healthy. It is called homeostasis. A homeostatic mechanism regulates vital functions like blood sugar and blood pressure, breathing and physical activity. While these are constantly changing dependent on what we are doing homeostasis is forever trying to even things out.


Without homeostasis at work we would run till we drop because there would be no lactic acid – an anaerobic (non oxygen based) form of energy.  Lactic acid forces us to slow down (the acid burns) and repay our oxygen debt.


Without the satiety center in our brain telling us we have had enough food we would eat till we explode. Everything changes because every change requires another change to regulate it.[4].




There is nothing identical



‘Same, same but different.’



While we may experience many similar situations each is unique. This is important to remember when we fall into judgment of ourselves or others. When a symptom returns or a relationship ‘fails’[5] it is easy to assume it is the same experience of the original problem or dysfunction.


We humans are easily spoilt however and are quick to forget how far we have come since the last occurrence. Even a reminder of past hurts has us declaring that nothing has changed – which we now know is impossible because, well, everything changes.


Like the uniqueness of our thumbprint or even the shape of whole galaxies our journey of personal development is spiral. We may peel our way back around to the bruise from an old wound in our personal onion but it will be at a different level with a unique lesson and opportunity. Understanding this means we do not have to suffer twice.




What has a beginning has an end


I once asked a Buddhist monk: “Why do we die? What is the real cause of death?”

His reply: “Birth.”


This is not as flippant as it may sound. In this material world, form arises (is born), maintains for a while, and then dies or disintegrates.


Knowing this can help us navigate endings in our life. An understanding that everything ends helps us to avoid taking events personally when they do.


While ‘hello’ is usually more pleasant than ‘goodbye’ they are a pair. We would be more nourished by the attitude of ‘Don’t be sad it’s over. Be glad it happened.’


To realize that all beginnings will have an ending helps us to be present and appreciate each moment instead of letting our mind scheme and strategize into the future or sentimentalize and grieve the past.




What has a front has a back    



“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”


This line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet says a lot about the workings of our unconscious mind. In trying to become conscious it often exposes the very thing we are trying to hide.


Many times in the clinic I have listened to a client needlessly defend a person in their life or even an idea about themselves. As the front they present gets stronger so does the back that fights for attention.


We can subliminally register this dissonant clash to our senses when we are being lied to. Even if our conscious mind ignores it, later we may realize: “I knew that was going to happen.”



“Bad TV that insults me freely”[6]


‘What has a front has a back’ can teach us to be more reflective and perceptive when we are presented with viewpoints that try to bully us into going along with them. There is usually a back vying for attention behind all that earnest up-frontness. Advertising (to name just one example) uses this all the time.








The bigger the front the bigger the back



This is why huge lies can work where smaller ones will be called into question. When the back they are hiding is so breathtakingly huge and awful in scope we simply block it out from our consciousness. Big lies depend upon it in fact…


This law can also be experienced within ourselves. Ironically, it usually takes more energy to repress, deny or avoid something than confronting it and doing something about it. Once we have invested so much in the front, the back has become correspondingly big and scary too.


Such denial can even kill us.


Here is an example all (or most) of us experience every day without noticing it:


If we do not eat we will eventually starve and die. When we do eat however, a process called oxidation occurs as part of our digestion and assimilation. This results in the release of free radicals in the body which speed up aging and hasten our demise. Nature will not be denied.




All opposites are complementary



This is often a difficult principle to grasp when we are suffering. It can be hard to see how something that causes us to suffer can also heal us and make us stronger.


  • Weakness helps us find our strength
  • Darkness helps us stand up for our light
  • Love withdrawn by another can take us on a journey to find the love in ourselves
  • Love of Self then in turn attracts the love of others


The central principle of yin and yang is that, in this world, we mostly learn about something through the opposite experience at least as much as the one we wish for. Here are a few examples:


  • Identifying with a desired quality will attract the opposite qualities to us: “I’m a light worker. I’m a spiritual person” will soon attract (or reveal) all the darkness and materialism we can handle.
  • “I have to be a good girl/boy.” will soon find us looking for loopholes to slip through and be ‘bad’.
  • “I am a God-fearing Christian” will attract a morbid fascination with ‘devlish’ behavior.
  • If we travel far enough in an Easterly direction we will at some point find ourselves somewhere to the West of where we began.





Everything is everything…man!



Technohead. All rights reserved.

Technohead. All rights reserved.



Without the complementary, yin/yang opposites of these seven principles the only truthful statement we might be able make about our experience of the world is ‘Everything is everything’. While it may be true it might also prove difficult to make sense of it to ourselves or communicate it to others.[7]


The seven principles are like different rays of color branching out from a single prism. They are really just nuanced distinctions of a single truth contained in all of them. The infinite oneness of who we are can only be defined in a split, dualistic way by a mind separated from the Self. This separation is the origin of our illusion.


The union with the Self then must come from dis-illusioning ourselves of yin and yang’s quaint, old notions.


– but that is a paradox (and a blog) for another time.



Till the prism of another Monday splits the light seven ways to Sunday,




[1] Alright, alright that is my own ‘quote’ – but somebody had to say it.

[2] ‘We are all made of stars’. Moby. 2002.

[3] ‘I am the walrus’. Lennon-McCartney. 1967. Parlophone records.

[4] For a discussion on coping with change you might try clicking here 

[5] Whatever that means. The concept of failure is a misunderstanding by our moral mind. Righteously read all about it (or even listen) here:

[6] ’Cry for love’. (Pop/Jones) 1986 A&M records.

[7] At least in an average state of consciousness.



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com



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