September 19

The Yin and Yang of it All

Posted by William Berry | Filed under Blog | 9 Comments

Painting by Alexi Berry

Painting by Alexi Berry

There is a Seinfeld episode where Jerry discovers he is “Even Steven”. (I can relate nearly everything in life to a Seinfeld or Family Guy episode). Basically whatever happens to Jerry balances out moments later. He loses twenty dollars out of a window, and then finds twenty dollars in his pants pocket.

This balance is the essence of Taoism, and its representation in the Yin and Yang symbol. It is also a functioning factor in my life. I believe in balance. I believe in striving for balance in my life. I believe it is healthy for others to do the same.

Of course is often difficult to attain and maintain balance. I’ve worked out three times in the last month, a far cry from even my recent lazy level of twice a week. I’ve barely read anything other than text books. I have been busier professionally than I have ever been, and the things I rely on to provide balance in my life have suffered. (Just prior to writing this I worked out. This morning I read several short passages from a Taoist book). The goal is to catch the slipping and get back to what works.

The Yin and Yang sign is a personal favorite. It represents how seemingly contradictory forces are necessary for the whole. Dark and light, good and evil, mountains and valleys, they all rely on the other to exist. There are no mountains without valleys. We would not know the feeling of joy if we felt it all of the time. Opposing forces are necessary. In addition to the representation of the opposing forces making a whole, there is a little spot of each in the others mass. This represents that even in the positive there is some negative, and in the negative some positive. The Yin and Yang is a beautiful symbol representing all of this.

I decided to write this blog because lately I have felt like Even Steven. I’m making a little more money, and there is a new financial need (student loans are coming due as my forbearance has expired). I’m teaching more but putting less hours in at the office, and that paycheck suffers. Whatever positive occurs, there is always a little negative along for the ride, and vice versa.

What becomes important, besides simply keeping the balance by exercising, reading, and so forth, is to keep in mind things will work out. I have learned for the most part to have faith in my process, to believe that things happen for a reason, and to allow the Tao to move through me. Although I often have a minimal (at least to me) negative reaction to things that don’t go my way, I usually quickly realize things are the way they are supposed to be, and that ultimately they will work out. I have faith that in the end I’ll be Even Steven.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 19th, 2009 at 8:11 PM and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “The Yin and Yang of it All”

  1. Ursula? on September 20th, 2009 at 2:12 AM

    …there is no positivity or negativity: the grasshopper judges it to be so.

    …no, but really–great post. i’m just being a pain!

  2. William Berry on September 20th, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    You are absolutely right, there is no positive or negative, only terms we use for communication. You remind me of how I often felt further from enlightenment after reading a book. I distinctly remember after finishing Allan Watts “The Way of Zen”, feeling that, because of the new knowledge (and symbols) I gained, that I was further from enlightenment! But we often need the finger pointing at the moon to experience the moon.
    As Always, Thank You for the comment Ursula.

  3. Onidia on September 20th, 2009 at 11:34 PM

    This blog is very interesting for me because I took Religious Studies twice. I got a D the first time I took it and an A the second one. Religion is a very hard subject and I think that it is really easy for you.

  4. The Rambling Taoist on September 21st, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    The ultimate “even steven” is that each who is born will die and each who dies will be born. I’m not stating this as nihilist sentiment — it’s more the nature of our existence. All things balance out in the end.

  5. William Berry on September 21st, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    Thank you for your comment. I actually write a lot about death, and how it can make life much more meaningful. There will actually be another post to that theme forthcoming, once my daughter completes the art work.
    On another note, with a name like “the Rambling Taoist” I must assume you are into Eastern Philosophy. I hope you will continue to check back and will visit my new site zen everyman once it is up in the next couple of months.
    Thank you again.

  6. William Berry on September 21st, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    Well, I wouldn’t say its easy for me, but I’ve read a bit, predominately on Eastern religions.
    As always thank you for your comment.

  7. June, Thoughts for the…. - Blog - William Berry, MS, CAP on June 5th, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    [...] low, there are no mountains without valleys, for their to be good their must be evil. This is the Yin and Yang of life. We must embrace all of it, and understand it is part of the duality of our existence. People today [...]

  8. Dave Zeiger on March 21st, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Thanks for a great post. And compliments to Alexi on a painting full of subtleties!

    If you haven’t run across them, may I recommend “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff, and “The Tao is Silent” by Raymond Smullyan. These two, more than most, whisper to me of the Tao.

  9. William Berry on March 21st, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Thanks!
    I have read both of those. The Tao is Silent is was one of my favorites for a long time.

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