The Many Names of Light and Dark

In an ever continuing duality of nature, Yin and Yang finally develops into its large embracing category out of the light and shadow of Heaven and Earth. As the tendencies of form continue to evolve from hard and soft to big and small, to great and humble, The Yi Jing continues to place the oppositions of poles into their qualitative environments. The best way to arrange them was to put them with the natural forces that were ever present in the naturalist reality. Thunder and Wind, Fire and Water, Lake and Mountain, each had their active or passive roles in carrying out the forces of nature. However, there were still forces unaccounted for that were visible to man, and these were the psychological, physical, and supernatural unknowns that he hadn’t quite put together. These were the occurrences of the moon’s phases, its effects on man and woman, Man’s emotions and its effects on others, death and the continuity of life. These grand themes created separate dramas that some how became enmeshed in the history of Chinese Medicine and that of Taoism.

Ancestor worship was prominent ritual for the Ancient Chinese. They dedicated days of relation to Grandfather and Grandmother spirits that looked them over and gave advice when needed. They had actors perform their roles on their part, so that they may be accompanied on great feasts. Eventually, their greatness may have been carried on with next of kin through naming and rites. The Ancestor eventually became the source of all previous knowledge that the family may have had in the past, this was to be used to help out in present situations. One became a host to an Ancestor guest so to be imbued with the historical sense of progress not just for themselves, but for their family, clan, and people.

This historical light of guidance became to be known as Shen.

Opposed to the brightness of Knowing and Understanding, was Gui. The wandering ghost. The Gui is the dark side of the moon. It makes itself known through its unquestionable appearance. What is that thing? It is a headless ghost, meandering, unknown in the world. It is the shadow of the unknown so present in the world.

Shen 神 like Yang is rising, Gui 鬼 is like yin is descending. Shen is like finding the three corners of a puzzle, gui is like searching for the fourth corner.

I like to see the two as knowing and unknowing, a process of memory, a continual creation of moments strung together by life’s choices. Conscious and unconscious, an examination of one’s drives, emotions, and who they are in the greater scheme.

Shen is of heaven, and Gui is of earth. Shen leads us to seek more of Heaven, to complete Ming 命 – Destiny, our Authentic self. Gui is more of the unconscious duality that arises through the natural display of life.

Shen further is comprised two cycles, a vertical and a horizontal one. The horizontal cycle was mentioned before in the previous blog

Yi 意 and Xiang 像

This is the cycle of thought, Yi 意,  where inspiration becomes thought, consideration, ambition, fruition, and then wisdom.

The Shen as it manifests vertically is that through the body’s desires, emotions, feelings, and expressions. This is the cycle of the “Bright” spirits, the Hun 魂 and Po 魄. The Hun, are the cloud spirits, aptly named because they are like nebulous mist that arrises out of the earth. It is the vacillating drives and desires that arise out of the mind to become. The Hun liken with Shao yang and the Blue green dragon, as discussed briefly in the last blog entry. The Hun is the moving drive toward expansion, it is libidinous energy, a driving life force to arise and be carried away with the wind. It is Zhen and Xun. Arousal and dispersion. It is the desiring mind to create, embrace, grow, and inseminate.

The “White” spirits, the Po, is that of a reflective nature. It is likened to the bright moon waning from fullness. It is the White tiger, Dui and Qian, Reflection and Contemplation instilling itself so that another cycle can complete and begin a new. It is Shao yin, as fire immerses itself in water to be released at a later time. The Po spirits are the resulting emotions that one experiences after one’s libido, urges, and actions are already expressed. It is the response one has from the other. It is the resting body’s reply as it processes after activity. It is the body reflecting on itself and its resulting display. As it reflects on itself, and processes its activity it then begins to recreate itself as itself with its new knowledge.

After it begins to excrete the unnecessary, the drive for the future begins again, and the wheels are spun again.




The Four Images



“[When] yin and yang not yet differentiated, the one qi is mixed and indistinct. [Since this] qi contains yin and yang, then it has clear and turbid [portion], the clear then floats and rises, the turbid then sinks and descends, this is their spontaneous nature.

The rising then becomes yang, the descending then becomes yin; yin and yang have separate positions; the two yi divide. [That which resides] in the space between the clear and the turbid, this is called center qi; the center qi is the pivoting axis of the ascent and descent of yin and yang, it is that which is called earth.”- Huang Yuan Hua- 1705BCE


Well known throughout Daoism, the unamable Dao goes through its multiplicity. Out of nothing, a unity of oneness occurs, Wu ji is formed. Out of Wu ji, the great ultimate, Tai ji arises from. Tai Ji, the great embrace is the union and separation of duality, from the passage above in the Si Xian Xin Yuan, The Four Sage’s Heart initiation, the creation of Yin and Yang becomes very clear. A process of differentiation occurs through the spontaneity of nature, where Yin and Yang become qualified into the Clear and the Turbid. The clear has the quality of rising, and the turbid has the quality of descending. This is of their nature.

The Shou gua describes Yin and Yang before it was called yin and yang, as the way of Shadow and Light, and the way of Soft and Firm. Duality takes it shape in the spontaneous arising nature of phenomena. In between the two, is a pivoting axis of rising and falling where Qi is formed. Qi can be seen as the force between the two, a middle ground of communication between the two extremes. Here there is a Trinity of creation, where the One becomes the Two, and then the Three. We then see out of states of transition four images arising from Yin and Yang. Shao yang, Tai Yang, Shao yin, and Tai yin. These are the four positions of Yin and Yang in its arising and descent.

“[In this] pivoting axis’s movement, the clear qi spins to the left, rising and transforming into fire; turbid qi is revolves to the right, descending and transforming into water, [that which] transforms into fire is then hot, [that which] transforms into water is then cold. Wood’s warm qi rises and does not stop, accumulating warmth becoming hot and transforms becoming fire.  Wood’s qi is warm, not fully hot as fire, but as it accumulates it becomes hot and results in fire. Metal’s cool qi descends and does not stop, accumulating cool becoming cold, and transforming into water. Water, fire, metal, wood, these are the names of the four images.”


From this passage we see that Yang at its height is called fire, and Yin in its depth is called water. Fire has the quality of heat, and water has the quality of cold. Growing and arising in between Yin and Yang is Wood, and contracting and condensing in between Yang and Yin is Metal.

The beauty of this explanation is the malleability of understanding. There is a simplicity to the Four “images”. These are natural relatable images that have a strong verisimilitude.

These Four images later on become through explanation and further examination over the centuries as the Four great Animals, The 4 seasons, The five phases, and a prominent part of the I Ching and Chinese Medicine.