Everything in the universe is constantly changing. Activity changes into
rest, day changes into night, warmth into coldness, summer changers into
winter, winter into summer, youth into old age, life into death, death
into rebirth. Recognizing and understanding the two opposite and yet complementary
constantly intertwining forces that bring along constant change helps
us to achieve harmony in our bodies and minds. The principle of yin and
yang is the philosophical foundation of macrobiotics. The way of life
teachings of Lao Tze, Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Jesus Mohammed and other
great teachers and philosophers throughout history were based on the universal
principle of two opposite and yet complementary forces. To understand
this simple principle and then to live its basic laws is the greatest
way to perfect health and long life.
Yin and Yang in East and West
principle of yin and yang is also known as the Unifying Principle because
it states that antagonistic forces complement and unify each other. Like
in the case of man and woman. Though man and woman are opposites in many
ways, they depend on each other for continued existence. Together they
form a unity. In both Eastern and Western religion and thought many expressions
of yin and yang can be found. Yin and yang are the underlying forces that
produce constant change in Chinese Taoism. In Hindu religion Brahman the
absolute becomes Shiva and Parvati, the god and goddess whose cosmic dance
gives rise to all phenomena in the universe. In Japanse Shinto religion,
Amnominakanushi, who stand for infinity, becomes Takami-musabi and kami-musubi,
the gods of centrifugality and centripetality, from whom the phenomenal
In the West the underlying
principle of yin and yang has amongst others been expressed by the Greek
philosopher Empedocles who viewed the universe as an eternal playground
of two opposite and yet complementary forces which he called love and
strife. Heraclitus referring to the eternal process of change as Logos,
taught of the opposite, yet complementary nature of all phenomena. In
Judaism, the principle of complementary, opposite forces is expressed
in the David star, showing the balanced intersection of descending an
ascending triangles. More recently key ideas in the works of Emerson,
Thoreau, Hegel and Walter Russell have expressed the underlying force
of yin and yang.
Yin and yang in macrobiotics
Macrobiotics focuses on the dynamics of yin and yang in daily life. Centrifugal
outward energy which is resulting in expansion is named yin. Diffusion,
dispersion, expansion and separation are yin tendencies. Centripetal inward
energy which is resulting in contraction is called yang. Fusion, organization,
gathering, contraction are yang tendencies.
Ying and yang are the most basic and primary forces. Every change, movement,
formation, interaction, all phenomena can be understood in terms of yin
and yang. Since all things are relative nothing is absolutely yin or yang,
but there is always one predominating force, therefore we can classify
f.e. plants, persons, foods according their relative yin and yang tendencies.
In the world around us the sun, daytime, heat and summer display yang
tendencies, while the moon, night, cold and winter reflect more yin qualities.
In the human body we can see the constant action of both yin and yang
in the expansion and contraction of the heart, the lungs, the stomach
and the intestines. Being active (yang), human beings and animals in general
are more yang than stationary (yin) plants. Colored Chart with yin/ yang
( you have )
Yin and yang in foods
Through our daily food we create our ability to adapt to local climates
and conditions. That is why balance in our food is important. All of us
follow our natural instincts to try to maintain balance. When it is cold
we turn on the heating system, when we become warm we look for refreshment.
The summer brings lighter eating and cooking, in winter we like more heavier
eating. Macrobiotics helps us to become more aware of our intuitive needs
and helps us finding the foods and preparations that can help us to easily
adapt to our environment.
Red meat, poultry, hard cheese and eggs are more yang foods than plants.
They are the result of a concentration of plants eaten by an animal.
Observing plant life, a further division into yin and yang characteristics
can be made. Root vegetables and seeds are more yang-growing into the
soil, compact- than leaves and branches. Above the ground vegetables are
more yang-more dense and less watery- than tree fruits. In general, plants
that grow quickly in warm climates or hot weather, and those that have
high water content, are more yin. Plants that grow in temperate climates
are more hardy, slow growing and smaller and contain less liquid and are
therefore more yang.
The macrobiotic diet is made up of foods which are more balanced. See
the section on the Macrobiotic Diet. When we eat foods out of harmony
with our bodily needs, such as meats, eggs, and hard salty cheeses (all
yang), we create an equal and opposite craving for sugar, strong and stimulating
spices, coffee, alcohol, ice cream, and tropical fruits ( all yin) in
attempt to balance our physical and mental condition. The swings from
one extreme to the other can destroy the foundation of good health and
lead to disease. All physical and mental imbalances can be explained as
being caused by excessive yin, excessive yang or a combination of excessive
yin and yang in food choice, attitude and lifestyle.
The bigger the front, the bigger the
In everything there is a front and a back. Macrobiotic theory suggests
that the bigger the front, the bigger the back will be. The huge global
arms race and its implications for the future survival of human life (front)
has also created a global desire for world peace (back).
Modern society’s tendency to take a symptomatic approach to illness
(front) has created an inspiring revolution in health care called the
holistic approach (back).
Based on texts in The Macrobiotic Way, Michio Kushi, John Denver,
Stepehn Blauer; Avery ISBN 0-89529-524-5