Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

The Illusion of Conflict

I love the taiji (yin yang) symbol. So much so that when I saw these bowls at the pet store, I couldn’t resist getting a pair for my dog. I smile every time I fill them with food and water. Although the significance of this symbol is likely lost on Rosie, it is a daily reminder to me of the perfect harmony of nature.

You are probably familiar with the design in which two curving shapes create a perfect circle. The two curving shapes represent yin (darker) and yang (lighter). Yin and yang are sometimes thought of as opposites, each with various associations–yin with the receptive, mysterious, feminine, earth; yang with the creative, manifest, masculine, heaven.

Rather than opposites, however, the symbol reveals the complementary wholeness of the circle as the two shapes eternally flow one into the other. This is emphasized by the small dots (represented by pawprints in the bowl), a light dot in the darker shape and a dark dot in the lighter shape, showing that the essence of each is contained in the other.

The Tao Te Ching teaches that the complementary movement of the Tao and the “ten thousand things” (the universe) is one of manifesting into creation and returning to mystery.

Nature reflects this in the seasons. The first day of summer is the longest day of the year. As summer progresses, however, the days get shorter, heralding the coming winter. I’m always uplifted on the first day of winter, knowing that as we enter the period of cold, rainy months, each day is getting longer, promising that summer will come again.

Joy and sadness cycle in their turn, yet each is part of the whole process of opening the heart.

Even our breath reflects this, as each inhale and exhale flow in rhythmic exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

When faced with an apparent conflict, this symbol helps me shift from a stuck adversarial perspective. It teaches me to look for the movement of complementary ideas, each reflecting some common value. Instead of using force against force, yielding allows the cycle to turn, creating openings for other ideas naturally to emerge. Harmonious resolution is then possible, and if not achieved, then at least my inner harmony is maintained.

I witnessed this recently when two parents were arguing about whether their water-averse child should take swimming lessons. One parent said that the child should not be forced to swim if she was afraid of the water. The other parent said that lessons were important to help the child become comfortable in the water. They were stuck in what they perceived to be opposite, immovable positions.

What I saw was that both parents were in total agreement on the key points. They both loved their child, both wanted their child to be comfortable in the water, and neither believed that forcing the child into the water was the way to achieve this. When they finally recognized their common ground, they quickly agreed to provide opportunities for the child to be around water with a skilled teacher who could (hopefully) gradually and gently help the child learn to enjoy the water. There never really was a conflict.

And really, there never is.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang. They achieve harmony by combining these forces. ~Tao Te Ching

8 thoughts on “The Illusion of Conflict”

  1. I agree completely. Learning runes taught me the balance in all forces. However, I think my machine at work is an exception…

  2. I have always loved the yin/yang symbol. I'm not sure that yin is dark and yang is light, though: I thought it was the other way around. Not that it matters, really. 🙂

  3. DJan, glad we share a love of this symbol. About which is which, I agree that it doesn't matter, but let's both check it out. I believe that yin is dark because it is associated with the feminine, mystery, night, moon, earth, etc. Yang is the heaven, sun, male, creative, day, and so forth. In martial arts, yin is the yielding, gathering, redirecting energy, while yang is the manifesting, forward intention, expanding energy.

    I'd appreciate it if you would see what you can find. If you find something different from what I said, please do let me know. I'm always open to new information! And I'm happy to be corrected if you find that I have it reversed. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I love to watch nature in action and view the harmonious relationship that is therein. Most of all I can see this in the man and woman relationship. I love how my dear husband and I harmoniously work together as one in almost all aspects of our life. This was a great read. Loved it! 😊

  5. LeAnn, glad you enjoyed it. You and your husband a a model of this natural movement of complementary energies. What advice would you give to newly married couples who want to have a marriage as harmonious as yours?

  6. Love the patterns of dark and light, also as they come together as daylight fades away to night. Did not mean to be poetic here, it just happened. Am also thinking of this in terms of the upcoming election, a very historical event in any case, but there are many patterns of dark and light as the chaos of this time brings with it the needed changes as we evolve as a society of the human family and seek balance once again.

  7. Love that–poetry just happened! And yes, the US election is hard to ignore right now. I just saw a video graphic, based on voting patterns, of how over the years Congress has become more polarized. In years past, the two parties had much more area of overlap and exchange of compromise and support. Now the two sides are visibly separated and far removed from each other. I love the way you applied this post to the political situation. You've given me a new way to look at it. Thank you!

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