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The text of the I Ching is a set of predictions represented by a set of 64 abstract line arrangements called hexagrams (卦 guà). Although just the numbers 1 to 64 could have been used, the ancient Chinese instead used a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines (爻 yáo). Each line is either Yang (an unbroken, or solid line), or Yin (broken, an open line with a gap in the centre). With six such lines stacked from bottom to top there are 26 or 64 possible combinations, and thus 64 hexagrams represented.

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Each hexagram represents a description of a state or process. When a hexagram is cast using one of the traditional processes of divination with I Ching, each of the yin or yang lines will be indicated as either moving (that is, changing), or fixed (that is, unchanging). Moving (also sometimes called "old", or "unstable") lines will change to their opposites, that is "young" lines of the other type -- old yang becoming young yin, and old yin becoming young yang.

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The solid line represents yang, the creative principle. The open line represents yin, the receptive principle. These principles are also represented in a common circular symbol (☯), known as taijitu (太極圖), but more commonly known in the west as the yin-yang (陰陽) diagram, expressing the idea of complementarity of changes: when Yang is at top, Yin is increasing, and the reverse.

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Yin and yang, while common expressions associated with many schools known from classical Chinese culture, are especially associated with the Taoists.

The concepts of Yin and Yang originate in ancient Chinese philosophy and metaphysics, which describes two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. Yin (Chinese: 陰阴; pinyin: yīn; literally "shady place, north slope (hill), south bank (river); cloudy, overcast") is the darker element; it is sad, passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night. Yang (陽阳; yáng; "sunny place, south slope (hill), north bank (river); sunshine") is the brighter element; it is happy, active, light, masculine, upward-seeking and corresponds to the day. Yin is often symbolized by water, while Yang is symbolized by fire.

Yin (feminine, dark, passive force) and Yang (masculine, bright, active force) are descriptions of complementary opposites rather than absolutes. Any Yin/Yang dichotomy can be seen as its opposite when viewed from another perspective. The categorisation is seen as one of convenience. Most forces in nature can be seen as having Yin and Yang states, and the two are usually in movement rather than held in absolute stasis.

If that is not dualism I don't know what is.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 11:50:52 AM EST
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