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September 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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dean yang

Most people in the west these days are familiar with the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang, but penetrating beyond the words to a deeper understanding of this philosophy can be difficult for westerners. In this article I will try to give a concise and clear introduction to the way of Wuji, or 'no extremities' in which the Tao (literally translated as 'the way') is found by balancing yin and yang.

Yin and yang are the primal opposites and the first distinction or differentiation in the Tao, which is the ultimate source of all things. Yin is described as female, contractive and receptive, whereas Yang is masculine, expansive and active. Wuji is that state in which yin and yang are equal and therefore cancel each other out, allowing a person to exist within the emptiness and clarity of the Tao.

For a westerner it can be very difficult to even think about how you would do this. It is one thing to understand what is yin and yang in an abstract philosophical sense, but how does this actually relate to our material lives?

I have found that the best thing to do is to look at the general concept rather than getting hung up on the terminology. In order to attain balance you don't need to label avery single aspect of your life as either yin or yang; you can just use a bit of common sense. The most important concept is that of balance, and not the intricacies of yin and yang. It is also constructive to look at the term wuji itself - no extremes - essentially this means moderation. Taking away all the culturally specific terms the way of wuji is simply to live ones life in a balanced and moderate manner. A good maxim for Wuji is 'everything in moderation', meaning that nothing is denied, but nothing is taken to excess.

It is also interesting to realise that there is a striking parallel with the western philosophical tradition. The term 'reason' originates from the same linguistic root as 'ratio', and refers to the balancing of one thing against another. The word, and the philosophy of reason, come from ancient Greece, where it was considered to be as much a way of living as a method of enquiry into particular things. The way of Wuji is therefore at least in part the art of living in a reasonable manner. The ancient Greeks also had a saying: all things are vices if taken to the extreme, even virtue. This fits very well with the Chinese concept of Wuji; becoming a hermit and living on a mountain, for example, may well be a path to enlightenment, buy it is not the way of Wuji.

Rainie Yang n Dean Fujioka (Dai Wo Zou)

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