The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Yin and Yang

The terms yin and yang, which come from ancient Chinese philosophy, are consciously understood by few westerners.

While growing up, we may have subconsciously gleaned a vague awareness of these terms, as often we do with idioms, slang or regional turns of phrases.  We may have come to associate ‘yin’ with some sort of a Pulling force, an attraction or passive receptivity, and in contrast, ‘yang’ with a Pushing force, a fierce or passionate exertion of energy.

Perhaps we heard somewhere along the line that yin and yang, respectively, were associated with the Female and Male, and falsely assumed that the descriptors of yin and yang should describe actual women and men.

By uncritically combining these ideas we acquired the attitudes that, in general, attractiveness and passivity is expected of women and competitive aggressiveness is cultivated in men.

Anyone exhibiting opposite gender-related traits, or demonstrating behaviors related to the opposite gender, risks evoking consternation, if not repugnance.  Easily disturbed are those whose minds have been set by a culturally-inherited misunderstanding of a simple pair of Chinese words.

Explore more in the Aside: Gender Roles.

Religious icons persist that illustrate the Male/yang in heavenly light.  The Female/yin remains in the darkness of underground, Eve being the first sinner.  Do you see why green color-codes for Female (Mother Earth) and blue color-codes for Male (Father Sky)?

That a naive understanding of yin and yang could subconsciously lead to both sexist and racist ideations, would be an hilarious suggestion, were it not for all the evidence pointing to that effect.  Right here in 21st century America, pervasive and persistent, pre-programmed prejudices lead to punitive practices and improper policies concerning persons of the so-called “weaker sex” and/or persons with darker skin tones.

As absurd as it is to think that the color of one’s skin tone indicates his/her worthiness of dignity and opportunities, it is likewise absurd to think that receptivity is exclusive to women and expressiveness is exclusive to men.  In fact, none of the descriptors in either column (a few paragraphs above) are exclusive to the genders associated with them.

Resist the idea that women ought to exemplify the characteristics of only yin, and men only those of yang.  Quadernity explains how the pair of causal Subjects, the archetypal Female and Male, Pull and Push in all of us.

The Female is our embodiment and the Male is our enmindedness.  Inseparably unified, the entwined couple’s interactivity is the Uni-verse, the one sound, the primal OM in which all notes are played and enjoyed.

Niels Bohr offers this pertinent paradox:

A simple truth is a truth where the opposite is not true.  A deep truth is a truth where the opposite is also true.

In this chapter, we will explore how the teachings of yin and yang remain true, even though their meanings are falsely interpreted.

Yin and Yang and Quadernity’s PTPR

Below is an array of four Pragmatic Schematics (PS).  The uppermost PS is a Venn Diagram; in it we see four possibilities for arranging two opposite sets.  The bottom PS includes Quadernity’s PTPR; Pull * Transition * Push * Rest occupy the four stations.  The middle two schematics reveal the perplexity one encounters when trying to make sense of BOTH yin and yang, or (horrors!) BOTH Female and Male.

Actions of Yin & Yang, Stillness of Rest & Transition

Out beyond the two circles of the PS is everything that is in NEITHER of the circles.  As a context, this outside-space transcends and includes the inside-space formed by the two sets and their relationship.

For there to be dynamic activity, there must be stillness from which action emerges and into which it subsides.

Summarized in the biblical phrase from the American King James Version:

All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Everything, via yin, comes from the homogeneous, undifferentiated quiescence denoted by the word Rest.  Every solute, having fallen from solution, is returned, via yang, to the Rest state, wherein its temporary differentiation gets resolved.

Newton’s Third Law of Action states:

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Yin necessitates Yang.  A Pull necessitates a Push.  For a Pull always to be accompanied by a Push, there must be a Transition between them.  Transition occurs during a momentary equilibrium between opposite movements/forces, like the fulcrum of a seesaw.

An inhalation necessitates an exhalation.  Between an inhalation (breath flows in and down) and an exhalation (breath flows up and out), there is a point of stillness where the direction of air flow reverses.  This Transition is so fleeting that it is difficult to isolate in normal breathing.

In the short video that follows, extra pendulum balls extend the stillness of Transition, making it more detectable than if there were only two balls.

To start the pendulum balls swinging, one must raise an end ball to a point; this Rest point from which the ball is dropped determines for the ball on the other end where its momentum will cease, its Rest point.  The Rests are the arc’s alpha and omega.

The Transition is the center point through which a transfer is accomplished.  In the case of the pendulum balls, the transfer is one of momentum, passing from one end ball to the other.

  • Transition is an equilibrium between opposite actions.  In the momentary Transition, the Female transfers/Pushes something to Male who receives/Pulls it.
  • Rest is quiescence.  During Rest, NEITHER the Female nor the Male are active or moving.

According to scientists, dynamical systems organize themselves to remain far from equilibrium*.

*The scientists’ terminology is a bit wonky, if you ask me.  They employ the word equilibrium as I have used the word quiescence.  These words are not exactly synonymous.

Equilibrium indicates that two forces have become equalized.  We know from Quadernity that when the Female and Male are in equilibrium, whatever is transferred (OUTput becomes INput) is singled-out.  Nothing is singled-out during the Rest; instead, everything is mingled-in.

What is being avoided by dynamical systems is non-existence, death, dormancy, termination of power/differential/gradient, in other words, the mingled-in state of Rest.  Dynamical systems avoid quiescence, not equilibrium!  Were it not for the equilibrium between, or equal stature of the Female and Male causal Subjects, no dynamical system could exist, much less persist.

Quadernity’s PTPR illustrates a universal pattern, one that we recognize at the human scale in our breaths and in nerve transmission.

  • Between the inhalation/Pull and the exhalation/Push inside of a single breath, there is a Transition in which gases are exchanged.  (We do not exhale the same thing we inhale; we inhale to receive oxygen and we exhale to eliminate carbon dioxide.)  Before and after each breath, there is a Rest.  In the Rest, there is NEITHER an inhalation/Pull nor an exhalation/Push.  Yet, beyond the individual breaths something links them together, forming a sequence.  Breathing transcends the individual breaths while stringing them together.
  • In the inside-space of nerve transmission, a cell body Transitions between the Pull of dendrites and the Push of the axon terminals.  In the outside-space, surrounding and between individual neurons, the nerve signal Rests.  Beyond the individual neurons, chemical molecules facilitate signal transmission from one nerve to the next.

On our familiar scale, we can recognize another specific example.  Metabolism comprises dual, inverse processes, the catabolic process breaks down complexity into simplicity, and the inverse anabolic process builds up complexity from simplicity.  Metabolism must pre-exist the atomization of various life forms, whose lives depend on metabolism.

Imagine what would happen if a simple bar magnet (such as seen below) is approached at either end with the north pole of another magnet.  Pretend you hold the second magnet in your hand.  As you bring it toward the sketched magnet on the pretend-table below, the north pole of your magnet would be pulled toward its south pole and pushed away from its north pole, just as the arrows indicate.

The bar magnet is overlaid upon a PS below.  As shown, the magnet’s south pole Pulls from the outside-space (beyond the physicality of the magnet) and its north pole Pushes back into that outside-space.

Magnetism transcends and includes bipolar magnets, just as breathing transcends and includes the inhalations and exhalations of individual breaths.

Magnetism, in the magnet’s outside-space, links the south pole of one magnet to the north pole of another.  An infinite number of magnets can be connected, one after another, just as breathing stitches one more breath to the string of breaths preceding it, then one more, and one more…

Endlessly magnets may be aligned, connecting the north pole of one to the south pole of another.  Also, magnets may be divided into smaller magnets, each having their own south and north poles.  There is no point along the length of a bar magnet that, if split there, would not reveal the presence of both north and south poles!

Never can the magnets be connected north to north or south to south.  Never will an exhalation immediately follow another exhalation, nor will an inhalation immediately follow another inhalation.  Never will dendrites connect to each other, nor will axon terminals connect to each other.  Alternation is essential.

The binary structure is essential.  The Female and Male are essential.  Inside and outside spaces are essential, as is the boundary that both divides and connects them.

What is labeled BOTH in the Venn Diagram (upper row below) is labeled Transition in the PS (lower row below):

The Transition between the split magnet, or between the combined magnets, as shown a few paragraphs above, is also where the following pairs of opposites occur together — as BOTH, rather than as EITHER-OR:

  • south and north poles
  • inhalation and exhalation
  • dendrites and axon terminals
  • Pull and Push
  • yin and yang
  • Female and Male

We know from studying Quadernity that the Female and Male relate to each other in two ways: the ‘Private Nighttime Relationship’ (upper quadrants) and the ‘Public Daytime Relationship’ (lower quadrants).

In the chalkboard model of Quadernity, the Female Subject Pulls and the Male Object is Pushed in the ‘Private Nighttime Relationship’ (upper quadrants).  This agrees with the ancient Chinese terms, yin and yang.  It is just the opposite in the lower quadrants; in the ‘Public Daytime Relationship’ the Male Subject Pulls and the Female Object is Pushed.

System’s Transition vs. the Female and Male Transitions

In the chalkboard model below, locate the terms Rest and Transition on the vertical white line.  Rest is in the Metaphysical Domain (upper quadrants, outside-space) and Transition is the the Physical Domain (lower quadrants, inside-space).

The persistence of dynamical entity/systems (E/S) implies the presence of two Subjects (archetypally acting as equal opposites: Female and Male) interacting across dual domains.

Before the Female Pulls, She is at Rest.  After the Male Pushes, He Resets to Rest.  While NEITHER Female nor Male is Pulling, Transitioning or Pushing, there are no singled-out differences.  Everything/Nothing is without differences or gradients; there is no action potential, hence, a quiescent Rest.

The coupled-system’s dynamics originate with a Female Pull (yin), endure a Transition, and terminate with a Male Push (yang).  And, within the coupled-system, the Female and Male originate their own actions with a Pull, follow through with a Transition and finish up with a Push.  Notice the fractal nature between the whole and the parts.

In the lower-quadrant/physical domain, the Female Object is Pushed and the Male Subject Pulls.  This lower-quadrant relationship is equivalent to the Transition of the coupled system, which is shown in the central space of the Pragmatic Schematic, shown below.

This momentary equilibrium between the Female Push and Male Pull occurs within a bounded inside-space, between the lower quadrants of the chalkboard model.

Rather than the fleeting exchange that occurs between two magnets, or in the system’s Transition, the individual Transitions of the Female and Male are more like extended processes.

Quadernity calls the Female‘s Transition OUTforming and the Male‘s Transition INforming.

Both the Female and Male process one thing (INput) to produce another thing (OUTput):

  • Female example: between the reception/Pull of sperm and the birth/Push of a baby, the process of gestation/development/putting-together occurs.
  • Male example: between the extraction/Pull of a valuable resource (examples: meaning from a communication or nutrients from food) and the discarding/Push of excess/waste, the process of sorting/differentiation/taking-apart occurs.

The individual Female and Male Transitions are on the diagonals of the chalkboard model and in the outer crescents of the PS.  The models show the exact same thing while giving two different ways to look at it.  The former ranks the dimensions, upper and lower.  The latter emphasizes the inside and outside spaces.

  • In the chalkboard model the Female Subject Transitions between Pulling INput from the metaphysical domain (upper quadrants) and Pushing OUTput into the physical domain (lower quadrants). The Male Subject Transitions between Pulling INput from the physical domain (lower quadrants) and Pushing OUTput into the metaphysical domain (upper quadrants).
  • In the PS, the Female Subject Transitions linearly between Pulling INput from the metaphysical domain (outside-space) and Pushing OUTput into the physical domain (inside space).  The Male Subject Transitions between Pulling INput from the physical domain (inside-space) and Pushing OUTput into the metaphysical domain (outside-space).

Persistence of Entity-Systems

The Female and Male partners oscillate between potential and productive states; one partner Transitions into productivity while the other Rests in its potentiality, and vice versa.  The Transition of the Male carries the Female across the threshold of Her Rest; in return the Transition of the Female carries the Male across the threshold of His Rest.  In this way neither fall into Absolute Rest, the quiescent ground state.

In the graphic below, the activity within the quadrants is laid out across a PS so we can follow along from left to right.  The full cycle of an E/S originates in the metaphysical domain, where the Female Pulls (yin).  The cycle is completed by the Male Push (yang), which ends up back in the metaphysical domain.

Alfred North Whitehead says in Process and Reality,

Though mentality is non-spatial, mentality is always a reaction from, and integration with, physical experience, which is spatial.

Says the Tao te Ching:

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.  They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

In the context of magnets, one would not expect the south pole’s Pull to be yin/Female and the north pole’s Push to be yang/Male; however, with the aid of Quadernity, we understand how the magnet is just another example of a dynamical system comprising both Female and Male PTPR.  In the magnet’s central Transition the Female Push hands off to the Male Pull.

The “ten-thousand things” that combine yin and yang are, in the parlance of Quadernity, entity-systems (E/S), the simplest of which is graphically portrayed below.  Displayed in the upper row is the Absolute, described by ancient creation stories, which we will explore more fully in the unit: A New Light on Creation.


Chapter 42 of the Tao te Ching begins like this:

The Tao begets One.

The Tao is the Rest, within which the One dynamic occurs.

One begets two.

Next, this One divides into two.  The Female and Male, as cooperative functionaries, mirror the One.  Each of them Pull * Transition * Push * Rest.

The fractal nature holds across infinite scales as the universe divides itself into smaller and smaller versions of itself, all while remaining One in itself.  Yin and yang, the Female Pull and the Male Push, transcend the inside-space dynamic.  Together, they are the firmament that divides the waters above (the Tao, the ultimate Rest) from the waters below (the dynamic action of the penultimate pair, the Female and Male.

Two begets three.

In the first cycle, the Female‘s OUTput becomes the Male‘s INput.  Between the two, there is now a third thing.

Three begets the ten thousand things*.

*At the time this was written, the number, ten thousand, was equivalent to today’s “gazillion”.  It was a number meant to encompass everything you could think of.  The word myriad also means ten-thousand, which is a stand in for infinitely many.

The Male makes of His INput some other OUTput, which becomes the Female‘s INput for the second round.  The first cycle has folded back on itself, forming a feedback loop that persists.  In each of ten thousand (countless) rounds, OUTput/INput forms in both the physical realm (Female OUTforms Corporeality) and in the metaphysical realm (Male INforms Consciousness).  The ten thousand things are the Objects generated by the Female and Male for each other.  The Female‘s OUTformation re-Minds the Male and the Male‘s INformation re-Members the Female.

Chalkboard Slides 21.001In the images below of Adam and Eve, we see Eve always with one arm up-stretched and Adam with one hand touching the ground below.  The symbology shows that they are Subjects of different domains.  The Female is Subject of the metaphysical domain (upper quadrants) and the Male is Subject of the physical domain (lower quadrants).

Eve is receptive to mystical creature, usually depicted as a serpent or a cherub.  Adam is receptive to Eve.  Occasionally, but not always, She offers Him fruit.

In the two pictures below, notice Adam scratches His head or holds His chin.  This symbology indicates He wants to make meaning of what He is receiving from Eve.

The Female brings to the physical realm below some Corporeal Matter.  The Male delivers to the metaphysical realm beyond a Conscious Pattern.

Compare these two images:

From the Upanishads:

Thou indeed art the undifferentiated first cause, the highest Prakriti.  Oh, Divine Mother!  Thou art that supreme science of power, inconceivably immense.

In the image on the left above, Eve offers something to Adam, who does nothing beyond receiving from Eve.  After all, how could a Pattern in Consciousness be illustrated?  (In an upcoming chapter of this unit, we will learn how the cosmic black hole is an example of the Male Pulling from the Physical plane and Pushing bits of data against the never to be seen, meta-physical surface of its inside-space.  Even so, this cannot be illustrated, first-hand, only imagined.)

In the painting to the right above, Prakriti offers Purusha Her lotus buds.  Purusha shows Her how His flowers have fully bloomed.  The most ancient culture of India has so artfully symbolized the understanding that the Male completes the cycle that the Female initiates, something that quantum physicists have only come to grok within my lifetime.

From The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory, the New Physics of Information by Tom Siegfried:

You simply cannot say, or even calculate, where an electron is in an atom or where it will be.  You can only give the odds of its being here or there.  And it is not here or there until you look for it and make a measurement of its position.  Only then do you get an answer, and all the other possibilities just disappear.  This is a difficult point to grasp, but it needs to be clear.  It’s not just a lack of knowing the electron’s “real” position.  The electron does not have a real position until somebody (or something) measures it.

Take-Home Points

Mixing metaphors is dangerous when we fail to recognize that different rules apply for the physical and metaphysical relationships within each dynamical system or entity.

When Newton declared, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” he was talking about physical forces with visible effects.  These, of course, occur in the lower quadrants, where the Female Pushes and the Male Pulls.

Yin and yang include the concepts of Pull and Push, but with their gender aspects, they are applicable only to the alpha and omega of a dynamical circuit.  This is fine when we understand the reference, but if we try to apply upper-quadrant rules to lower-quadrant phenomena, we mess things up.

This should be a warning also for those who want to make physics (assumptions about OUTformed, singled-out/measured objects and the causal forces that empower or affect them) apply to Consciousness (which is INformed, metaphysical, atemporal, non-local/acausal, mingled-in/integral and immeasurable).

In order to clearly contemplate and communicate, we must learn to say upfront whether we are speaking about

  • physical or metaphysical relationships,
  • the relative or the Absolute, or
  • a specific instance or a generality.

To speak about generalities, or universal patterns, it behooves us to use words that do not carry the baggage of preconceptions or have limited contextual applications, which were the problems of yin and yang.

This chapter introduced the idea of inside and outside spaces.  The following chapters in this unit will incorporate and build on this idea.

Upcoming in this unit, the terms Spin and Span will be introduced for the purpose of discussing the universality of binary movements beyond simple linearity, which has been adequately described by our pals, Pull and Push. 😉