Friday, January 27, 2012

Assertiveness and Receptivity II

Scott Bradley


Let us understand Yin and Yang as metaphorical constructs which have no reality whatsoever; they are concepts by which the mind attempts to understand the nature of its experience.

I have suggested that ego is essentially Yang and that its remedy in Yin. And I have thus found myself in the uncomfortable position of apparently advocating only this one-sided approach to life.

Ego may be Yang, but we must also remember that human life is a great deal more than ego. To begin with, we understand that ego is no thing at all; it is a mental construct without true existence. It is something we have, with the emergence of self-consciousness, added on to life. And life? What is life? I cannot venture to say; only I would say that it is a ground infinitely more fundamental than ego, and the only ground in which we can pretend to proceed.

Life arises. Or is it 'arisen'? Is it Yang? Or is it Yin? It is both. And because it is both, it is neither. Unity is not the union of Yin and Yang, but the absence of any and every distinction. And it is this Unity, or at least an approximation thereof, which is the goal of the remedial use of Yin in response to the ego-assertive dominance of Yang.

The Taoist vision, as I understand it, is for us to be the life we are. It is to let life live through us. This is the ground-source of what is meant by 'going with the flow'. This attitude has its expression in the world, but the flow arises here where "I" step aside and let life flow where and as it will. And this stepping aside is Yin, surrender into the gift of life. It is Yin as remedy for Yang in the service of life which is both and neither.

Life is assertive; it lives. Life is receptive; it is given. Life as expressed through the 'genuinely human', the ideal of the sage living in harmony with life, is both Yin and Yang, assertive and receptive, yet it knows nothing of either. It is an expression of Unity.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you have yin and yang as opposite things in themselves that are in a battle to overcome one another even though you set out to say this was not the case.

    You did not write it so openly but I'm exposing what I see is the underlying movement.

    Yin and Yang intermingle and mix, they never act as pure things and can never reach a point of one excluding or overcoming the other.

    We can say an ego in some cases can seem predominately yang but not that it is yang. What we'd see from further looking is the play of both yin and yang. Yining and Yanging.

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