yin and yang: knowing what is and doing

Yin and yang are the complementary opposites that, in the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, apply to all areas of our life.

That they apply to the physical is often recognised. However, they also apply to our intellect, the mental world, as well.

Our culture, with its emphasis on taking action and making a difference, has a bias to the yang part of the yin and yang philosophy. Unfortunately this can lead to thoughtlessness and foolish actions. Creative action is essential, without it our cultures and human life on our planet will not survive. But this doesn’t mean just doing anything. We need to have some idea of what our situation is.

These are the two aspects of our mental life, knowing what is (yin) and acting (yang).
[Carl Jung called the yin ‘perception’ and the yang ‘judgement’. The details are in his Psychological Types. The brilliant application of this to a description of personality is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.]

Reflect on the preferences you have in your intellectual life.

  • Do you have a preference for one of these sides of your thinking?
  • Are you happy just finding out what is going on? Or do you care more about making a difference with what you know?
  • Are you impatient about finding out or doing?
  • Which do you think plays a larger role in your life?
  • Where is it that you are content to just find out?
  • Where is it that you want to innovate and make a difference?

If you emphasise action and want to experience the yin aspect then Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain may be very helpful. If you prefer the just finding out what is and want to experience the yang aspect you may find it helpful to read business books about entrepreneurs – John C Lyons and Edward de Bono’s Marketing Without Money is excellent.

Do you have a guiding philosophy that explains what the world is like? (I mean ideas that explain your world and life to you, not necessarily a formal philosophy with a name that was perhaps learnt from others).
In what ways, or to who, have you made a difference (and we probably all have in one way or another)?

This is the world of our intellect viewed through the lens of yin and yang.

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