A few months ago I was in a very relaxed mental state when I started contemplating the relationship between my inner and outer life. I became aware that I am very happy with the balance that I have found between my spiritual and material life. I asked myself if there is a way in which I can make it clear to other what this balance is that I have found. I then had a visual insight into the meaning of the yin-yang symbol, which I would like to share with you now.
I’ll use the relationship between our personal and professional lives to explain my understanding of the yin-yang symbol. There is a natural relationship between the personal and professional aspects of our life: through our experiences in personal life we grow and shape ourselves, and we use whatever we have gained from those experiences in our professional life. Sometimes we do this consciously and sometimes unconsciously, for example when we make decisions at work or talking to our colleagues. In the same way, we also use what we have gained from our professional life in our personal life.
As you know the yin-yang symbol is composed of two colours, usually black and white. Let’s say that our personal life is represented by the colour white and our professional life by the colour black. The balance that most of us have is as follows: we often think about work when at home and we quite regularly think about home when we are at work. One common expression of this is what I call “midnight-worry”; when we are at home, ready to sleep, and all kinds of thoughts and worries of both home and work come rushing in the moment we close our eyes. This ‘disorganised’ state of mind could be visualised something like this:
That figure does not look nice to me. When I look at the picture, I feel disturbed inside. It will make it easier to understand the article if you identify what you are feeling when you see the figure above before you continue to read.
If you feel disturbed like me, you might look for a way to organise the picture so that you do not feel that. One attempt might be to do this:
The meaning of this picture is that the relationship between our personal and professional life is severed. There is a sort of a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’-like touch to this idea: you are one thing here and something completely different there. I believe that that is an unnatural state of being. I feel slight anxiety when I look at this picture, because the two aspects (white and black) seem to oppose each other rather than support each other.
Now observe the yin-yang symbol:
This is where I experience harmony. The beauty of the yin-yang symbol is that the two aspects are not opposing each other, but supporting each other. That support is indicated by the ‘fish eye’ (small black circle in the white area, small white circle in the black area). At the same time, the two aspects retain their individuality, which is expressed by them having their own space.
This is what a harmonious balance between personal and professional life could be like as well. Work can support our personal life, because it has the ability to, amongst other things, give financial stability. Personal life can support our working life, because it can give rest, clarity and inspiration which is needed to do the work well. It’s nearly impossible to do your work well with a disturbed mind, and it’s very hard to be relaxed and happy when you are fighting for your basic needs.
My insight is that the yin-yang symbol gives a clear direction on how to balance the so-called opposites of life. A good understanding of the yin-yang symbol can make it easy to understand how to balance your time in fulfilling spiritual and existential needs; how to be both an individual and a partner in a committed relationship; how to find a right balance between taking a break and doing efforts; etc.
All these ‘opposites’ are there in support of each other, and both aspects can be enjoyed in their own right.