Sages and philosophers say that having balance and harmony is one pervading aspiration, if not imperative, in life. And such a path is embodied in one of the world’s most famous symbols: the yin and yang.
Yin-yang is a central tenet in Lao Tzu’s Daoism, the philosophy that there is a right way to live life, which involves finding and following the “Dao” or path to our life and also the universe.
The Dao or “The Way” is often compared to a river flow, moving and directing all things. We are like boats on its path; to be happy is to let the Dao carry us onward.
Daoism is simply considered a call “to go with the flow” of the universe. In short, it is finding balance and harmony in life.
Yin-yang is a guide to Dao. It is the idea that there is a duality to everything. Yin is associated with darkness, femininity, mystery, passivity, the night sky, or the old. Yang is associated with light, energy, activity, clarity, the sun, or youth.
Difference yet unity
But this duality is not to be understood as some kind of conflict between the yin and the yang. Rather, it posits that there is a great harmony to be found in the contrast between things. In other words, yin-yang represents difference yet unity in life—or, picking up from my Latin background in the seminary, “e pluribus unum” or “unity in diversity.”
Yin-yang finds its concordance in Aristotle’s “virtus in medio stat” or “virtue stands in the middle.” According to him, virtue (as contrasted to vice), being the Golden Mean, is a balance between two excesses: too much and too little.
Thus, for Aristotle, courage lies between cowardice and recklessness; modesty between humility and pride; honesty between secrecy and loquacity; self-control between impulsiveness and indecisiveness; and generosity between miserliness and extravagance.
How then can we find balance in life? Two important points come to the fore.
Firstly, the idea of balance should not be understood as “being able to do it all, have it all, and handle it all with a smile on our face.
”While it is plausible to point out that it’s fairly impossible to have or do “everything of anything,” in like manner, balance is not simply having or doing “anything of everything.”
Secondly, balance isn’t actually something you have to find, but something you create, something that is within you.
Indian yogi Sadhguru wrote: “There is no such thing as work-life balance. It is ALL (underscoring mine) life. The balance has to be within you.”
Hence, creating balance is a choice. No matter what life throws at you, or what you do or don’t get done, you maintain an inner sense of peace—a calm amid chaos.
In sum, the goal of balance is harmony.
Bob Acebedo writes a column in the weekly OpinYon (https://opinyon.net) —Ed.