Our western culture finds itself in an extreme state of imbalance. We are buying too many things we don’t really need, eat too much unhealthy food and allowing our mind to be captured by a cacophony of so many voices that we can barely be alone in total silence for more than a few minutes.
We have become sidetracked. There is much we can learn from ancient eastern culture to regain our bearings. According to the ancient Daoist principle the universe is constantly striving toward a balance between the polarity of yin and yang.
We can understand the principle of yin and yang best by looking at the yin and yang symbol.
Within the dark yin is also yang and in the lightened yang is also yin. Day turns to night and night turns to day. The entire universe is based on this polarity which is constantly in flow and in movement. Without the polarity of the male and female there would be no life. Like this universal principle the body will always try to restore balance between these energies and set the stage for the next growth cycle.
Illness, imbalance or destruction proceeds where there is too much yin or too much yang. The advertising world is indoctrinating us 24-7 on what we need to buy or do to live a happy life. In most cases we don’t even notice how subtle these influences are. These mostly “external needs” can never be met. We live a hollow life of what we perceive to be unfulfilled personal needs and wants. Our western culture feeds on us comparing ourselves with Joe next door who has “a big house and can afford to buy a sports car.”
A couple of years ago I visited Malawi, a small south eastern African country and one of the world’s poorest countries with a gross national income per capita of 870 dollars (or personal income per person annually) compared to 27,000 in the United States. I have never seen so many happy and smiling people around me than in Malawi. It is a subjective view, but still set me thinking why people in the wealthy countries look a lot more glum. This is not to be misunderstood that you need to be poor to be happy. I presume however, that the people in the mainly agrarian culture of Malawi know that they are dependent on each other and feel a much greater sense of being part of a caring family and community.
In the Book of Wisdom, the I Ging, one of the central themes is finding the right moment to withdraw into yin or to become pro-active by going into yang. The Daoist and other wise women and men teach us that we need to let go of attachment and that this is one of the main reasons for misery and unhappiness. Unhappy and sad moments in our lives are just as transient as the happy moments. Thus the happy person is the one who has found peace in himself or herself that everything is impermanent, in a constant cycle like the seasons going through birth, growth, death and rebirth. Sadly much of organised Christian in the West focuses too much on the crucifixion and pain aspect. It is my personal view that the deeper meaning of the Christ is that we constantly go through cycles of birth, crucifixion and resurrection. After walking painfully over the path of hot coals lies growth and light.