Decoding the Principles of the Universe

Zhang Hongbao’s Tianhua Philosophy

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The Basic Law of Yin and Yang

 Zhang Hongbao


        The Basic Law of Yin and Yang has been developed from the basic structure of Chinese yin and yang theories. The traditional theories of yin and yang illustrate the important rules and salient characteristics such as “the derivation of natural laws from the interactions between yin and yang;” “the inseparability of yin and yang;” “no birth without yin, and no growth without yang;” “yang exists in yin, and yin exists in yang;” “extreme yang gives rise to yin, while extreme yin gives rise to yang,;” “harmony derives from the balance between yin and yang;” “yin and yang are interchangeable;” and “the inter-transformation of yin and yang.” On the foundation of the theories of ancient philosophers and sages, the Basic Law of Yin and Yang put forward the theory of yin/yang material and plural material, paving the way for the clarification of a basic philosophical problem relating to “the theory of existence;” furthermore, on the foundation of the yin/yang features summarized by the predecessors, the Basic Law of Yin and Yang incorporates modern sciences in its exposition of three major characteristics of yin and yang materials and three major distinctions between yin and yang materials, and points out the way of transformation between yin and yang and its application value . At the same time, the Basic Law of Yin and Yang also clarifies the qualitative distinction between the concept of yin and yang on the one hand and the concept of contradiction on the other, between the concept of the inseparability of yin and yang and the concept of unity of opposites in a contradiction, placing the emphasis on the fact that the general trend of development in the interaction between yin and yang is characterized by confrontation and coexistence of differences. Furthermore, the Basic Law of Yin and Yang points out that the fundamental issue in the studies of The Book of Changes and Taoist researches is yin and yang. “The change is the interaction between yin and yang;” “Taoism is about yin and yang.” Whether it is “simple change,” “radical change,” or “ non-change,” they all involve the law of the movement, change, and development of yin and yang. Thus comes the conclusion: the law of the genesis, development, movement, and change of yin and yang is the fundamental law that governs everything in the universe. From this perspective, “the theory of yin and yang” is no longer a “simple, primitive” philosophical proposition; it has become a Way of Universe endowed with a new life -- the Basic Law of Yin and Yang.


The law of unity of opposites proposes that everything can be divided into two contradictory parts; actually, this proposition has long existed in the traditional theory of yin and yang. It is not necessary for us to reiterate the overlapping between the two traditions. Here we will focus on the parts concerning development, perfection, and distinction.


One:  The Theory of Yin and Yang Materials and Plural Materials


The ancient Chinese philosophy regarded yin and yang as two kinds of air (Oi). Tianhua Culture goes further to point out that yin and yang are materials. Things in the universe belong to two major categories of yin and yang, i.e. yin material and yang material. The two major categories are both materials, the only difference being the form of existence. Yang material exists in a patent form; therefore, we call it substantial existence. Yin material exists in a latent form; therefore, we call it virtual existence. “Patent,” “latent,” “substantial,” “virtual,” “yin,” and “yang” are all mutually derivative and interdependent; there is no yin without yang, and no yang without yin. When yin and yang merge in spite of their difference, the result is material of plural nature, abbreviated here as plural material. Plural material is all-inclusive. It is the merge of yin and yang, where yin can be found in yang, and yang can be found in yin. Just as in mathematics, we can not talk about the complex number if we only focus on the real number in disregard of the imaginary number, and only the complex number is a complete concept about numbers.


       Yin and yang materials are inter-connected and counterbalanced; in the same way, plural materials are inter-connected and counterbalanced.


Two:  The Theory of Existence


       For many people, the fundamental issue in philosophy is the interrelationship between human thought and existence, between spirit and material; and the distinction between materialism and idealism is located in the competition for priority between thinking and existence, between spirit and material. Tianhua philosophy has transcended this confining framework in its proposition of a theory of existence that is drastically different from those advocated by these two major camps in philosophy. We believe that the concepts of “spirit and material, or thinking and existence” as defined by today’s philosophical circle belong to the category of “existence” as we define it; however, the way of existence can be further categorized into substantial existence and virtual existence. “Material” or “existence” as defined by today’s philosophical circle should, in fact, be categorized as substantial existence, while “spirit” or “thinking” should be categorized as virtual existence. Yang material has substantial existence, while yin material has virtual existence. Thus, there should not exist the issue of priority between yin material and yang material: they are congenital and co-existent; their coexistence becomes from their differences.


Three:  The Characteristic Distinction between Yin Material and Yang Material


1.            Yang material has substantial existence and thus possesses patent characteristics. It is visible and occupies space; yin material, on the other hand, has virtual existence and thus possesses latent characteristics. It is invisible, even with the assistance of a microscope. It permeates the space but does not occupy space.

2.             The substantial existence of yang material is realized in the form of particles or combination of particles. No matter how much it is dissolved or cut, it remains in the form of particles. The virtual existence of yin material is realized in the form of waves or groups of waves.

3.             The maximum speed limit of the movement of yang material is the speed of light; the minimum speed limit of the movement of yin material is the speed of light. The difference in speed is the important distinction between the two major kinds of materials, yin and yang. 


Four:  Two Basic Ways of Yin/Yang Transition


The transition of yin and yang refers to not only the transition of yin and yang materials but also the transition of yin and yang nature of things. There are two basic ways of yin and yang transition: one is the artificial transition, and the other is the natural transition. The artificial way of transition is to handle yin and yang artificially in order to disrupt the status quo and make yin and yang change toward a favorable direction until a new balance or harmony between yin and yang is reached. The artificial transition of yin and yang is accomplished through such means as struggle, abrupt change, peaceful evolution, gradual change, negotiations, discussions, and extradition. Such types of transitions can be applied to the society to attain political liberty and economic liberation, or to the fields of natural sciences to reform nature, obtain freedom, and achieve successes in production practices, or to the areas of life sciences to develop special functions of the human body, manage yin and yang, and attain spiritual and physical liberty at various levels.

The natural transition means that the transition of yin and yang is accomplished through following the laws of nature and the ways of natural self-adjustment of the universe. In the social arena, it means governing by doing nothing against nature; in the art of strategy, it means awaiting the right time; in the area of nature, it means abiding one’s destiny or relying on nature for your sustenance; in the field of life science, it means having respect for nature and the natural adjustment of ecological balance.

The two ways of transition explicated above may help to indicate that struggle is merely one of the means of promoting transitions between yin and yang. If we uphold struggle as the one way of promoting transitions in the world, adverse effects may ensue in time and space.


Five:   The Distinction between the Mutual Derivability of Yin and Yang and Unity of Opposites


The mutual derivability of yin and yang refers to the relationship of mutual reliance between the two kinds of materials, yin and yang, and between the things that are either yin or yang in nature, to the fact that yin by itself alone cannot survive, and yang by itself alone cannot grow; that there is yin in yang and vice versa. In this respect, the concept of mutual derivability of yin and yang is very similar with the law of unity of opposites, which stipulates that “the two parties of a contradiction coexist in one unity, and the loss of one party will cause the other party to disappear.” The differences between the two concepts are as follows:


  1. The former concept refers to yin and yang while the latter concept refers to contradictions. (1) The concept of yin and yang is a multi-dimensional concept. Things that are visible and tangible belong to the categories of three-dimensional or lower; they are yang by nature; things that are invisible and intangible belong to the categories of four-dimensional or above; they are yin by nature. From the perspective of dimension level, yin is of higher categories than yang. Thus, plural materials or things that are plural by nature consist of materials of different dimensional levels that coexist in unity. Therefore, “contradiction” is the attribute of things that are three-dimensional or lower. That is why, from the perspective of category, “contradiction” is inferior to “yin/yang” in terms of level degree and depth of intension. (2) Things that are comprised of yin and yang are plural by nature. In these things, there is no pure yin or pure yang; there is yin in yang and yang in yin. Both yin and yang materials have spirit. For instance, a human being is visible and tangible and therefore is yang by nature. However, there is yin in yang: the body is yang while the spirit (soul or intelligence) is yin. Without the spirit, a human being will become a walking corpse, not a genuine human being. Contradictions, on the other hand, are all visible and tangible. They are yang, pure yang, by nature; therefore they are spiritless, possessing no essence that reveals the realm of plural materials.
  2. The mutual derivability of yin and yang refers to the confrontation and coexistence of yin and yang. In the process of the movement and development of things, the transition of yin and yang may involve the struggle between yin and yang, but the way of transition is not limited to struggle. Furthermore, no matter how the transition is realized, the normal development depends on a propensity towards harmony between yin and yang. Unity of opposites, on the other hand, emphasizes confrontation and struggle; at the same time, struggle is absolute, and unity, union, or anything else can only be realized through struggle and fight. To attempt to resolve problems through this methodology will inevitably incur another proletarian cultural revolution, make it impossible for the proletariat and bourgeoisie to reconcile with each other, and preclude the occurrence of two systems in one country.


Six:   The Law of Yin and Yang as the Basic Law of the Universe


Having summed up and developed the various general laws on the movement and development of things that have been discovered so far in the history of human epistemology, Tianhua Philosophy has induced these laws into eight grand laws and derived from them a comprehensive worldview and methodology. Based on these eight laws and other worldviews and methodologies, Tianhua Philosophy further concluded that all these laws have something to do with the genesis, movement, development and expiration of yin and yang materials. The law of yin and yang is the basic law of the genesis, movement, and change of everything in the universe. The law of golden mean, the law of exchange between quality and quantity, the law of pulsation and spiral movement, and the law of integrity of humans and nature are all derived from the basic law of yin and yang. Tianhua philosophy’s views on history, morality, ethics, life, mortality, as well as the new theory of the origins of species in life science, the principles and methods of the special medicine, the development of super-function, and the strategies referred to in the studies of entrepreneurship are all stemmed from the basic law of yin and yang. Having identified the basics of the universal law, people will be able to reach the quintessence of things and have a firm grasp of human destiny. The Great Way is actually one of utmost simplicity. And this simple way is the basic law of the universe � the basic law of yin and yang. 


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