YIN AND YANG II

At the heart of the Daoist revolution is the embrace of yin. Yin is what lies beyond the ever-receding horizon of our understanding, our yanging. It is that which unavoidably contextualizes all we think and experience in Mystery. It is that which is always left out, no matter how grand our pronouncements about Reality. It is the not-God beyond God.

What is left out, Zhuangzi tells us, is the most important thing of all. This is the discovery of Daoism. It is only the most important thing because it is left out. It has no other value. Were it to have some other value, it would be yang. It is not something yet to be discovered—Dao, God, I AM, Brahman, true self, true purpose—but the emptiness of Mystery.

Yin is Mystery. And Mystery has no content.

The Laozi is often represented as the first extant locus of this radical philosophical pivot toward yin. This may or may not be the case, but Zhuangzi’s understanding may have been more radical still. This is a matter of interpretation; but the glorious first chapter of the Laozi seems to invite taking Non-Being as ultimate Yin in contrast to the Yang of Being. If this is the case, then this yin has been properly yanged. Yin (at this level) is the opposite of nothing—not even yang.

The embrace and prioritization of yin is not motivated by a belief that it is “higher”, “better”, or “more real”. It is because we are by nature all about yang. We tend to forget our embedding in yin. And this makes for psychological dissonance. And this diminishes our enjoyment of life.

And that, to my thinking, is Zhuangzian Daoism’s highest value, however parochial and prosaic that may seem.

5 thoughts on “YIN AND YANG II”

  1. This is fantastic and maybe the best take on yin and yang I’ve seen. The usual view of yin/yang works well and carries a lot of useful truths, but this deeper explanation is very moving. I was going to say that it is like taking a giant step back to widen the view but it is more like finding out what happens when you try to take that ultimate step back. You still can’t see what is doing the seeing, the yin. Thanks for this.

  2. “Yin is what lies beyond the ever-receding horizon of our understanding, our yanging. It is that which unavoidably contextualizes all we think and experience in Mystery. It is that which is always left out, no matter how grand our pronouncements about Reality. It is the not-God beyond God.”

    Is Yin the mystery of death? What you describe here reminds me of death. We are yanging along while the mystery of death is ever looming over, under, around, and beside us?

  3. Yes. I was thinking in that direction, but I think you’re right. Death is that which makes Mystery matter, psychologically speaking. Without it not-sense-making would only be an interesting epistemological problem.

    So, death is yin and life is yang. On some level. Maybe many levels. But how’s the Dylan song go? “He’s who’s not busy living is busy dying.” More than that: We’re always doing both, it seems.

    I might spend some time on this side of yin/yang.

    Anyway, thanks. If you have some insights here, I’d like to hear them. S

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *