In Chinese philosophy, the concept of Yin-Yang (simplified Chinese: 阴阳; traditional Chinese: 陰陽; pinyin: yīnyáng), which is often called “yin and yang,” in the cultures of Western Civilization — literally meaning “shadow and light” — is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they inter-relate to one other. The concept lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine,1 and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t’ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung) and of I Ching. Many natural dualities (e.g., dark & light, female & male, low & high, cold & hot, water & fire, etc., etc.,) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept.
Yin and yang are actually complementary — not opposing — forces, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (e.g., shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in Western cultures.
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