Cultural Differences:

Eastern versus Western Philosophy

Yin and Yang

Two Opposites that Form a Whole Only in Combination


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Founder, Ten3 Business e-Coach – Inspiration and Innovation unlimited!






"The Great One produces the two poles, which in turn give rise to the energies of the dark (yin) and the light (yang)." ~ Lü-shin ch'un-ch'iu


Yin and Yang

The yin-yang symbol stands for the universe composed of yin and yang, which form a whole only in combination. The two spots in the symbol indicate that each of the two energies – at the highest stage of its realization – already contains the seed of, and is about to transform into, its polar opposite.

The Power of Balance

Yin and Yang: Properties and Associations













Original Meaning of Yin and Yang



North side of a hill (i.e. away from the sun)

South side of a hill (i.e. facing the sun)

Some Symbols of Yin and Yang











Black color

Red color





Even numbers

Odd numbers



The Tao of Achievement

  • Reflection (Yin): Quiet your mind; take a "helicopter view" of the situation...

  • Action (Yang): Create positive energy; take initiative; turn failures in opportunities... More

The Tao of Employee Empowerment

  • Yin: Listen to your people

  • Yang: Inspire, challenge imagination... More

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Cultural Intelligence

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The Two Polar Energies

Yin and yang represent two fundamental forces that create and harmonize the Universe by their interaction. These two opposite, conflicting forces found in every action. They symbolize the two polar energies that, by their fluctuation and interaction, are responsible for the dynamic universe. The notion means that the reality consists of relationships between opposite and opposite principles.

Origin of the Yin-Yang Concept

The concept yin-yang stems from the Book of Change (I-ching), a Chinese book of wisdom and oracles, dating from the transition period between the Yin and Chou dynasties. The essential philosophy of the Book of Change is based on Confucianism, but there are also Taoist ideas present. It is based on the idea of two polar energies, by whose activities all things are brought about and come into being. Initially, these two energies were simply called the light and the dark, but later were referred to as yin and yang. The interaction of yin and yang produces change, which is to be understood as the movement of the Tao.

Yin and yang are polar manifestations of the Tao – the supreme ultimate. The One is divided through the creative powers of the Tao into two opposite energetics and dualities, which then give birth to "the ten thousand things", their concrete manifestations being Earth and Heaven.

The Yang and Yin operate in the universe primarily through the agency of the five elements: Earth (Saturn), Water (Mercury), Metal (Venus), Wood (Jupiter), and Fire (Mars). These elements under the guidance of the five planets form, with the Sun and Moon, the seven rulers. Each of the elements may also be Yang or Yin, so that combinations of all these could produce broad number possibilities (sic) and astrological alternatives. Each, of course, has its symbol which can be, and often was, incised into jade.

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Different Ways of Looking at the World

The notion yin and yang also means different ways of looking at a world that may be experienced in a variety of different ways. Yin, or 'the shady side' is contrasted with 'the sunny side' yang, and the idea is that everything has at least two aspects to it.


The Manifestation of Continuous Change

From the intermingling of yin and yang arise the five elements - water, fire, wood, metal, and earth - the five phases of transformation, or five energies, that determine the course of natural phenomena. This manifestation of all phenomena is seen as a cyclic process, an endless coming into being and passing away, as everything, upon reaching an extreme stage, transforms into its opposite. The underlying shared characteristic of yin and yang therefore consists in giving rise to this continuous change, which is said to be the movement of the Tao.1

The Symbol of Tao

Yin and yang are symbols of the Tao & Taosim.  They are the dynamic force of the Tao, constantly interacting with one another.

The Tao of Business Success

The Tao helps you achieve much more with much less effort. This effortless skill comes from being in accord with reality. You can't tell the singer from the song. You can't tell the dancer from the dance. When you are in harmony with the Tao, when you go with its current  of energy, your innate intelligence takes over, and the right action happens by itself.

The Tao teaches you the art of living and doing business. It gives you advice that imparts perspective and balance. It applies equally well to the managing of a large organization or the running of a small business, to the governing of a nation or the leading a small team, to your personal development or to the coaching of others... More

Chinese Traditional Medicine

"The energies of yin and yang are of great importance in traditional Chinese medicine. The body is healthy only when yin and yang hold each other in balance. Too much yang causes heightened organic activity; too much yin, an inadequate functioning of the organs."1

The Chinese system of physiotherapy, or therapeutic exercises, is represented primarily in the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, which is a system of exercises performed in close co-ordination with regulated breathing. The exercises are comprised of thirty-seven movement patterns, the composition of which is regulated by the principles of yin and yang.


Yin & Yang in Chinese Cooking

How does the concept of yin and yang relate to food? 

A basic adherence to this philosophy can be found in any Chinese dish, from stir-fried beef with broccoli to sweet and sour pork. There is always a balance in color, flavors, and textures. However, belief in the importance of following the principles of yin and yang in the diet extends further. Certain foods are thought to have yin or cooling properties, while others have warm, yang properties.  The challenge is to consume a diet that contains a healthy balance between the two.  When treating illnesses, an Oriental physician will frequently advise dietary changes in order to restore a healthy balance between the yin and yang in the body.

For example, let's say you're suffering from heartburn, caused by consuming too many spicy (yang) foods.  Instead of antacids, you're likely to take home a prescription for herbal teas to restore the yin forces.   Similarly, coughs or flu are more likely to be treated with dietary changes than antibiotics or cough medicines.

Almost no foodstuff is purely yin or yang - it's more that one characteristic tends to dominate.  This is why there is not complete agreement among experts as to which foods exhibit yin or yang forces.  It also reinforces that it is not so much the individual ingredients, as the the balance and contrast between ingredients in each dish, that is important. Interestingly, cooking methods also have more of a yin or yang property.3





  1. "The Rider Encyclopaedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion", Rider Books

  2. "Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy", Oliver Leaman

  3. "Yin and Yang In Chinese Cooking", Chinese Cuisine

  4. The Tao of Business Success, Vadim Kotelnikov

  5. Harnessing Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Vadim Kotelnikov