I often represent yin and yang as verbs. In their practical expressions this is what they are—activities. (It’s also fun to create a bunch of neologisms, especially when they require the mind to think in new ways.)

Yin is an activity? Yang is doing, being, self-asserting—it is the essence of activity. How then can yin, its opposite, also be an activity? It is something we choose to do. We are what we do—we are a doing. We are unavoidably doers in every instance. If I decide to do nothing, then that it what I do. Though the goal of spontaneity is unmediated doing, it is doing nonetheless.

This is wuwei—not-doing. Wuwei is an activity informed of yin. Wuwei is a healthy balance of yin and yang.

In pedagogical midwifery, teaching has a goal and is an activity. It yangs. But it also yins. It is the yin of the method that makes it an expression of wuwei. Yin is the vacuous space that calls forth yang.

This parallels Zhuangzi’s unique take on qi (ch’i). You want to accumulate more qi? “Just be empty, nothing more.” “Qi is an emptiness, a waiting for the presence of beings.” (4:9) This qi is yin. Like water, its power resides in its yielding.

Yet qi is often represented as yang—an accumulation of a something, with a subsequent endowment of power. It may be (if it exists at all). But like the yanging of water, this happens only incidental to its yinning.

As inveterate yangers, we turn every call to yin into still more yanging. Even Dao becomes ultimate Yang.

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