One of the most frequent questions I’m asked at Twitter is the meaning of my avatar. If you’re reading this blog and have no idea what that is, it’s the symbol on the right side of my blog header. Twitter’s 140 character limitation does not allow me to fully explain it. Even when I do it takes about 6 tweets to do so and even then it’s only just the bare basics. By explaining it here I can go into greater detail in what the base symbology is, what it means to me and how and why I designed this customized version. I have not officially studied any Eastern religion or philosophy. The following comes from a base understanding in conjunction with research, observation and meditation.
Essentially it is a triple Yin-Yan. Alternate versions are Ying-Yang, Yin-Yang, and less frequently Ying-Yan. Personally I prefer the smallest version Yin-Yan as it is also the simplest. In numerology, the vowels represent the gender of the word so when you remove them from either Yin-Yan or Ying-Yang you cannot tell which word is being referred to (Yn or Yng). The other versions do not contain this distinction and for me lose the purity of the basic symbology of this ancient Oriental symbol.
When the “i” is added to these letters it becomes feminine and when the “a” is added it becomes masculine. Hence this word and its ensuing symbology represent the ultimate dualities of the feminine and masculine principles. This represents the concept of duality so let’s explore that for a moment. Duality in and of itself appears to be a widely used term. Wikipedia says that Duality may refer to philosophy, logic, psychology, mathematics, science, film, music, and electronics . This implies to me that such broad use would indicate it is foundational so let’s explore its definition.
The definition of duality at dictionary.com is “The quality or character of being twofold; dichotomy” (from The American Heritage Dictionary). The other definition relates to mathematics, “a symmetry within a mathematical system such that a theorem remains valid if certain objects, relations, or operations are interchanged, as the interchange of points and lines in a plane in projective geometry”. The other most commonly recited reference is to quantum mechanics in the “wave-particle duality”.
Now let’s relate this back to Yin-Yan being the ultimate expression of the feminine and masculine principles. Male and female represent the ultimate dichotomy (the division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups) because what appears more mutually exclusive than the female and male bodies? The mathematics application may be more of a stretch for some but for those that study and use energy understand that everybody has within them female and male energies, sort of like the -/+ of electricity which allows it to flow within the body and that these can be exchanged. Thinking is a male oriented energy and emotion is a female oriented energy; the human body contains the capacity for both. It’s the quantum mechanics wave-particle duality that for me gets to the crux of the matter. This was discovered initially with light. One experiment showed that light contained particles such as when someone breaks a beam to open/close a door, trip an alarm, etc. Another experiment demonstrated that light is a wave. What was eventually discovered was that light contained both properties and depending on how you measured it would determine which property would come forth. Therefore light is both wave and particle simultaneously. It is its own dichotomy!!! The same applies to the Yin-Yan principle which is why the two colors are shown slightly intertwined. The black dot on the white side and white dot on the black side represent that one cannot exist without the other as they are just opposites of the same things or as in the wave-particle duality they are their own dichotomy.
This may be hard to see when you only think of the female and male bodies but this symbol represents more than that as it represents the feminine and masculine principles or energies to all things. Without tall there cannot be short. Without dark there cannot be light. Without fat there cannot be skinny. The opposite of one thing must exist in order to even discuss the other. So the dots in the Yin-Yan are there to remind you of this. There is a phrase in the Conversation with God books that states it somewhat eloquently, “In the absence of That Which Is, That Which Is Not, is not.”
Whew!! All of that just to explain my avatar?!? Yes, because it all started with the Yin-Yan plus I so rarely hear anyone talk about it with any real understanding of it. My intention is to assure that you have an understanding of it as close as possible to how I understand it. Many will say it’s Good vs. Evil or Light vs. Dark but it is so much more than that because I have come to see it as a foundational principle in understanding the core of, at the very least, perceived reality. So in actuality, duality only appears mutually exclusive but essentially at the core they are mutually inclusive because true opposites require each other in order to exist. I can only know I’m here because you are there and vice versa. Therefore in order to discuss the concept of space, both here and there must be included in the concept or essentially space, as we know it, cannot exist.
As my awareness continued to expand, so did my grasp of it from which duality moved into triality which by the way is only used in mathematics. The spiritual use of this term is called trinity and again I saw this as a base fundamental for all expressions of life. I’m just going to jump to the end with this; essentially the triality is the duality expressed. Remember that technically I said that true opposites are mutually inclusive. Their extreme purity requires at least the concept of the opposite to be always prevalent. If I’m standing in pitch blackness to the point I cannot see my hand in front of me, I only know that because I have an awareness of “lightness”, even though there is no light currently available. Therefore Life Expressed is an interplay of opposites. Using the symbology of the traditional Yin-Yan, then this would equate to Black, White, and Grey being the combination of the two representing the interplay between these opposite colors.
Once I fully realized this, the traditional Yin-Yan was no longer sufficient as an individual symbol that expressed my understanding of the base elements of perceived reality. My original concept was to just add another “comma” so to speak to the traditional Yin-Yan intertwined “commas”. Many years ago, long before programs like Photo Shop, etc were readily available, I worked with clip art in order to create various symbolic expressions of what I was coming to understand about life, the universe, and everything (an homage to Douglas Adams). I eventually purchased a library of 250,000 images and one day while going through the religious section looking for some symbols, I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for except it had way too much other stuff in it. I broke it apart and started to assemble my triple Yin-Yan but as creative inspiration would have it I couldn’t just stop at the three “commas”. First I had the white and black dots in their respective traditional places but how should I express that in the grey area? Then it hit me. For the dots in the black and white areas I put the traditional Yin-Yan without the dots, just as black/white “commas” but then in the grey area I put the full blown traditional Yin-Yan symbol.
The final symbology was that although white requires black in order to exist, it can deny that existence or even doesn’t have to know about it, but that doesn’t stop the fact that it’s opposite must still exit. The grey area has the full blown Yin-Yan with the dots because it is the interplay of these polar and apparent mutually exclusive opposites but at the same time is the blending of them and therefore must have an awareness of them on some level. So this in essence then better symbolizes Life Expressed and the variances that ensue because of their extreme variations in this interplay which would be expressed as multitudinous versions or expressions of grey while at the same time never forgetting what drives it all forward in the first place; the mutually inclusive polarities.
BE THE MIRACLE!!!
Addendum (3-Dec-2009): While browsing for various Yin-Yan images I happened to stumble upon a triple version and found out it is called Yin-Yang Yuan. The basic explanation I found at Sequoia Ministry which referred to it as the Triality Symbol and represents the Feminine, Masculine, and “basically the Void, the Unseen, or the Nothing-There in which the elements of yin and yang play out their constant drama”. This is in essence what I had said but used the word “interplay” instead of Void. Void seems so mysterious and removed from perceived reality making it almost untouchable or out of immediate grasp. From my observations as an energy intuitive, it is everywhere but you have to be able to sense energy first. So for those who haven’t learned how to do this, then it would end up in the realm of the mysterious and appear to be a void as in unexplicable. Sequoia Ministry also says, it “has been used as a Transgender symbol to indicate three sexes.” See the full Sequoia Ministry explanation here. This is also substantiated when doing a search for Yin-Yang Yuan images, the majority of which refer on some level to transgender.
Wikipedia Commons appears to have this image in non traditional colors from 2006. This image is also used in an article titled “The Yin-Yang-Yuan Triality” by Bob Jacobson published on April 28, 2007 at iThou.org. Bob states that he found it on Google images and a fellow member’s inquiry to its meaning prompted him to investigate it further. He lists the source as Wikipedia Commons and the creator as Paradox saying it was inspired by the creator’s transgender identity of which Bob says is not his take on the meaning of this symbol (This may be the origin of its current popular use as a transgender symbol). Bob then goes on with definitions eventually coming to the same conclusion as Sequoia Ministry using basically the same words indicating that both may are using external references as the source of the meaning and not so much from their own internal wisdom. At the end of his response, Bob states he didn’t know anything about “the pretty picture I put on my profile”. Somehow it spoke to him and from there he sought out its meaning when asked to explain it. To me this indicates that the true nature of the Yin-Yang Yuan is inherently at our core as the foundation of perceived reality.
There is also a site called UNITI (United National Initiative Towards Improvement) which uses it’s own version of this symbol of which they put a variation in the grey area. They give a small explanation of what it means but for me it’s more like when I hear others say what the traditional Yin-Yan means which is correct but from my experience there’s so much more to it. They then have their own customized version as their insignia which you can find here.