The Macrobiotic Principles of Opposites

Yin and Yang?

The 2 poles, yin (expansion) and yang (contraction), are complementary and antagonistic. Yin and yin repulse one another, as do yang and yang, but yin and yang attract one another. One can get an actual picture of these relations by playing with two magnets. Macrobiotic is a cosmogony in which these forces structure and animate the world. The study of macrobiotics consists therefore in identifying these forces and their interaction. In human life, yin and yang can be identified on a multitude of levels, but mostly, as far as we are concerned, in the nervous system division between parasympathetic nervous system – yang- and sympathetic nervous system – yin. The balance between the two is paramount to the maintenance of good health.

Yin Foods, Yang Foods

There are four factors that determine whether a food is yin or yang:
• How the food grows (including speed and direction).
• Where the food was grown (in northern or southern climates).
• The sodium-potassium content.
• And the effect the food has on the body (hot or cold effects).

In terms of mineral elements, Yin represents foods rich in potassium, while Yang foods are high in sodium. In general, yin foods are considered "cool," larger, have less salt, have potassium, and/or grow above soil. Yang foods are "warm" or "hot," smaller, have more sodium, and/or grow below the soil. In addition to eating yin or yang foods, to maintain balance followers of the philosophy believe you must also eat "cool" foods when it is hot, and "hot" foods when it is cold. In addition to yin and yang, there are five elements, which must also be balanced. Each element is associated with a particular food quality and the ideal meal includes all five.

"Yang is the tendency to gather. Yin is the tendency to disperse."

To embrace the meaning of the symbol is to understand that it repre sents the vibratory nature of all manifest phenomena, created by the interaction of opposing yet complementary forces the positive and neg ative, the aggressive and receptive, the masculine and feminine-all existing to encourage balance in the unfolding of life.

The circle, enclosing what appears to be two dolphins playing, rep resents the cosmic oneness within which these forces operate-the unity of life. What is interesting and significant is that the white dolphin has a black eye and the black dolphin has a white eye; the symbology being that if white is soft and black is hard, there is neither a total softness nor a total hardness – each has within itself a perception or an inlet to its opposite.

This presence of opposite aspects also suggests the constant movement of yin and yang, one into the other, stimulated by the physical laws of attraction and repulsion. This move ment is what guarantees that change, growth, and evolution will occur as part of the life process.

Human beings are inextricably part of the whole of nature and as such are themselves an expression of the interplay of forces, of Yin and Yang. Our bodies, our breath, the way we work, play, and think all originate from and manifest the interaction of these two forces. Accepting this, the principles of Yin/Yang theory encourage a wholistic view of life and suggest it can be lived as a work of art.

By understanding the applications of Yin / Yang theory to all aspects of life, a person can achieve the balance so essential to a sense of well being. Life's activities are never isolated from each other; by con­templating the interaction of Yin/Yang forces within us, we can learn to express ourselves, take care of our bodies, and nourish ourselves in a balanced way.

To guide us in applying Yin/Yang theory to the dynamics of our lives, the "Seven Universal Principles" evolved:

1. There is infinite variety in the world, but there is only one Source.

God, as the Source, is energy whose nature is a balanced interplay of creation and withdrawal; this energy expresses itself as the variety of manifestation in the universe. Knowing this, we see ourselves as part of the self-expressive, creative energy of God, and know we are guided toward our own self-expression by this force.

2. Everything changes. Everything is in continuous flow and change.

Knowing this we understand that we are part of a process. We understand that our activities are not an end in themselves. We're encouraged to embrace change as an opportunity for growth, understanding, and for ful filling our destiny.

3. Everything interrelates with everything else.

Everything is part of an enormous cosmic system that thrives on co operation and a balance of forces. Knowing this keeps us conscious of the whole and encourages us to act for the benefit of the whole. From this follows the recognition that when we put negative energy into the process, we ulti mately affect our own progress. This also encourages us to be willing to look into something seemingly disastrous and see the good behind it, knowing that it is only temporary.

4. No two things are identical. Each of us has something unique to offer.

This knowledge encourages us not to be afraid to have a different idea, to remember that variety is necessary for the whole colour of the garden. We can only fulfil our own true nature. With this in mind, however, we must also remember that we are still a part of God's infi nite life form.

5. What has a front has a back. This relates to our concept of cause and effect.

What you set in motion is going to unfold as your life. This knowledge should encourage us to have a positive outlook in all our endeavours so that what we manifest from our thoughts and activities will enhance our well-being.

6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

The more powerful the beginning, the more powerful the ending. This relates to the power behind our dynamic choices and should guide us to put the greatest energy to those tasks that we know will create the greatest good.

7. What has a beginning has an end. Anything that we set in motion will have an outcome.

We reap experiences commensurate with the seeds that we plant, and we cannot avoid that outcome. This knowledge encourages us to set our activities in motion with clarity of thought and purpose. This knowledge also lets us accept graciously that all things) events, and even our bodies will pass.

The Yin / Yang theory and the seven universal principles make up the foundation of oriental medicine and its approach to health and healing, just as the scientific principles and the laws of physics are the basis Western modern medicine. Throughout this book, the oriental approach is the basis for understanding body processes for diagnosing illnesses for selecting balancing foods to eat, and for approaching a state of we being.

Since in this theory of ebb and flow, life is seen as a process. single answer is correct for everyone, nor for the same person at different times. The pursuit of health thus becomes a path of living in balance with ourselves and all of nature.

by Kim Le, Ph.d
from Yin & Yang, from the Simple Path to Health

Microbiotics Guide