The Chinese concepts about the processes of the human body, and the health and disease are different from modern, scientific concepts. According to them, religion and healing have been closely associated in most civilizations and it was believed that fire, sun, moon, water, storms, stars and clouds were outward manifestation of gods. The foundation of Chinese medicine is based on careful clinical observations and is presented in the framework of the concept of the basic forces Yin and Yang .
Negative and Positive
These two cosmic forces are the two basic principles around which every thing revolves. It appears that the universe was originally in a state of forceless primordial resting substance. To put it in the famous saying of Lao Tse “All things in the universe grow out of something, which itself grows out of nothing, the universe resolved into negative (yin) and positive (yang) forces.”
The resolution was such that these two forces balanced each other and the harmony existed in the entire universe. When the imbalance of these forces occurs, it leads to natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. and the diseases in the human body. Though in balance, these forces are constantly interacting with each other and hence nothing in the universe is stable or ultimate.
Active and Passive
According to the Chinese philosophy yang means active and striving and yin means passive and yielding. Yin is female, cold and dark and yang is male, warm and bright. Yin is shade and yang is sun. Yang is active and yin is silent. Yin signifies every thing above the surface. As there is no truth without lies, no strength without weakness, no day without night, no virtue without vice and no good without bad, there cannot be yang without yin. They cannot exist without each other. And this one unit of yin and yang together is called the tao. There is always some yin in yang and always some yang in yin. The universe and the human body both follow the same set of principles. The same law of nature and the balance of yin and yang is essential for the existence of the healthy human body.
Yin and yang are the dual expressions of chi and are as important in medicine as in the Chinese theory of the universe; chi is what the Chinese call the motivating force behind all life. All matter is made of yin and yang, including every part of the human body. All nerves are either yin or yang.
Tao is the term given to primordial resting stage or the absolute zero which existed initially. From Tao, the “nothing” (absolute zero) becomes “something” by the primary act of asserting itself, and thus polarizes itself into yang and yin.
Chi as the Vital Force
The yin and yang are the two aspects of the chi energy. According to the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, the principle of yin and yang is the basic principle of the entire universe. Good health is the state of energy balance between these two and its upsetting results in a disease. They form the two opposite poles, negative and positive, and are complementary to each other. There are perpetual vibrations between them. Yang stands for male, sun, heavy, sharp, clean, upward direction, strength, warmth, dispersion, destruction and all that is positive. Yin stands for female, moon, earth, dirty, downward direction, quietude, cold, chronic, peace, harmony, endurance, debility, weakness and all that is negative.
It is further believed that yin is active within and acts as a guardian of yang. Yang is active on the surface and functions as regulator of yin. Yin stores up essence and yang protects it.
Chi is the vital motivating force behind all life and yin and yang are the dual expressions of chi. Chi comes into the body at birth and leaves it at death. During a person’s lifetime it flows in a specific and continuous pattern in the forms of yin and yang inside a system of channels called meridians into the human body. It permeates all living cells and tissues in the body. It is the invisible force responsible for all the movements of life. True chi comes’ from heaven and manifests as a living soul during birth. It is the main working force behind all the events of life and controls the functioning of the main acts of the organs and systems of the body. Whether it is the respiration, digestion or reproduction, it is the manifestation of chi. It permeates all living cells and circulates rhythmically in the body and a constant process of the transformation of air. food and water into the chi takes place throughout one’s life.