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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Yin and Yang of it all

Tess, our golden retriever, Abby our yellow lab

Tess and Abby, our two beautiful living yin-yang interpreters of the traditional ancient Taoist symbol (called the taigi) of life and existence.

Yin-yan, in Eastern thought, are two complementary forces that make up all aspects and phenomena of life. Yin is a symbol of earth, femaleness, darkness, passivity, and absorption. It is present in even numbers, in valleys and streams, and is represented by the tiger, the colour orange. Let Tess be ying.

Yang is conceived of as heaven, maleness, light, activity, and penetration. It is present in odd numbers, in mountains, and is represented by the dragon, the color azure. That would be Abby.

The two are both said to proceed from the Great Ultimate (taiji), their interplay on one another (as one increases the other decreases) being a description of the actual process of the universe and all that is in it. In harmony, the two are depicted as the light and dark halves of a circle.

The black and white halves of the Yin-Yang symbol are similar to the two sides of a coin. They are different, and distinct, yet one could not exist without the other. It is what the two sides have in common - what makes them "the same."

This idea is illustrated in Shih-tou's poem:

The Identity Of Relative And Absolute

Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative,
like two arrows meeting in mid-air.

Well, I hope we have all learned something today... and this all started when I noticed how our dogs sometimes sleep.

About Tess and Abby... Tess has just turned 7 and Abby, half-past 6. They are both therapy dogs bringing comfort, ease and calming to victims of floods, fires, shootings and other disasters, natural and otherwise. They regularly go to hospitals, nursing homes and hospice houses and, like all the superheros, try to be where they are needed. They are the greatest.

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