When thinking about how to become powerful, whole and complete, it is important to consider how connected we are to all ‘life giving’aspects of ourselves. One way to explore this is by looking at the ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang – where opposite forces are interconnected, balancing each other out to form a perfect, constantly flowing circle. Interestingly, the Yang dominant side contains the seed of Yin, and the Yin dominant side contains the seed of Yang.
“Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil…the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe.” Confucius
Yin is generally understood to be the softer, more feminine side of ourselves. Yin is the moon, she is the night, she goes within. She is fluid, she slows down. And she is the earth.
Yang is generally known as the more assertive, more masculine side of ourselves. Yang is the Sun, he is day and he is expressive. He is high energy, fast moving. And he is sky. Yet, in the balance of the Yin Yang concept, both of these sides are shaped in such a way that they accomodate and support each other to create life. Imagine if we could adopt this same balance within ourselves, and with each other.
Historically, we have associated ‘power’ with Yang-like energy. We’ve labelled Yang as ‘good’ for being expansive, active, dominating and assertive. And we have labelled Yin as ‘less than’ with its submissive, passive and ‘too receptive' ways. Along the way, we have somehow identified ourselves as belonging to one side - defining ourselves as being more Yin or Yang. This then creates the “yin versus yang” battle - a stand-off between expansion and contraction, domination and submission, action and passivity. Both sides struggle to understand and accept each other. A struggle that creates huge resistance, rising anger and increased resentment - giving rise to wars, protests, riots, anti-political movements and terrorist acts. People group together with a common feeling of silently living in a ‘disempowered’ state (dominated by the tyranny of the Yang) for too long. And so, Yin sets about to dominate. The desire for total domination of one side over the other results in anger and violence, and this struggle happens around us as much as within us.
There are brief moments of reconciliation – usually after great tragedies when both ‘sides’ realise that the resulting friction between Yin and Yang has created too much heat. Heat = Anger = Violent Action and where there is violence, there is great destruction of life. Only when this destruction of life has become clearly evident, and brought forth disastrous consequences for many, do both sides see the error of their ways and learn to accommodate each other.
This period of “enlightenment” however, does not last long. Inevitably, we stumble blindly towards polarisation - yin versus yang – and with life destroying results. Power comes from finding the balance of Yin and Yang. It comes from the fusion of Yin and Yang as one body, one heart, one mind and one spirit - where Yin supports and sustains Yang, and Yang supports and sustains Yin. When our hearts beat for all, we have resolved polarity – realising that both Yin and Yang are required for creating and sustaining life.
“But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you.”
There is a time for going within. For slowing down. For being calm, allowing yourself to soften and for being in the receptive mode. And then there’s time for taking on the world and expressing yourself with a fire in your belly. But it’s not about dominating one over the other. Force is not true power. Violence is not strength. True power is anything that adds to life, that creates life and that sustains life. True power is both Yin and Yang – working together, respecting each other.
True power gives life, and true power gives love. And where there is love, there is life.
Peace be with you,