Yin or Yang?


Ebb and Flow

“If the first Eastern teachers had known how disembodied we were in the West, they would have taught meditation, yoga and everything else in an entirely different way,” the teacher began.

A look of confusion spread to Patti’s face. “I don't get what you mean.”

The teacher pursed her lips, and gently nodded her head as she contemplated the issue while carefully studying her student’s open and inquisitive face. Moments crept by.

“Are you familiar with the notion of yin and yang?” she asked.

Patti nodded. “More or less.”

“Let’s consider these for a moment. Yin is the receptive, the passive, the feminine aspect of reality. Yang is the active, the initiative, the male component. Nothing comes to fruition without the interplay of both. I’m guessing that’s the part you understand. Right?”

She nodded again.

“Good. Let me use an analogy to make it clearer. If we wanted to create a pot from clay, we would need the yin of the clay and the yang of the hands or other tools for any form to emerge. Take away either of the forces, or allow them to be inadequate, and there can be no result. We require both initiative and receptivity in comparable measure for anything to come into creation.”

The teacher stopped and with raised eyebrows awaited confirmation from the student that she should proceed. Patti’s acknowledgement came quickly.

“Good again. So here is what I meant with my first thought. The Western world is so deeply defined by the active, by yang, that the expression of yin through Eastern wisdom and practice is experienced as a retreat rather than its own fertile space, a complement to the active state. Unfortunately Western students then aspire to escape. And the practices become less productive because they are not seen as a part of the whole.”

Again the master stopped to observe Patti. It was clear from the confusion clouding her eyes that another teaching tool would be needed. Quiet grew to surround them as the teacher considered the problem.

“Patti, let me put this in personal terms. When you come to meditation practice here at the Center, what do you seek?”

The student’s eyes moved about as if in searching. After a few moments she replied. “Truthfully, I think it’s an escape.”

The teacher’s eyes sparkled. “Excellent. And what would be the remedy?”

Again Patti sunk into contemplation. Suddenly a smile grew on her face. “We must take our practice into our daily lives, isn’t it? We have to bring the yin into the yang to get results.” Her smile grew greater still.

Her teacher offered a slight nod of validation. “Now that is your practice.”

Seeing True™

Action is insufficient without receptivity. And stillness without initiative cannot succeed.

The dance of awareness is one of ebb and flow, of receptivity and initiative.

 Seeing True™ in Action 

If the active and receptive aspects of our lives are needed in complementary proportion, how would you appraise them in your own life? How much time do you spend in an active state? How much in receptivity? In what ways does the one inform the other?

And now to the proverbial punch line: what ought you do as a result of your answers?