Brighten the darkness, or darken the brightness?

By most, the symbol above is known as “yin and yang.” It has a rather vague meaning. It symbolizes the balance with the dark and bright. It is a portrayal of the good and the bad, tranquility and turmoil, none of which can exist without the presence of the other. Everything we perceive is relative to another experience. One cannot feel happy if they have never been sad. Both sides of the spectrum play a crucial role in keeping each other intact. I think that this should be the guide for one’s life. Everything needs to happen in a balance, in unison, nothing should be pursued to the extreme, if one wants to preserve all they have been given. One gives up the opposite by experiencing the extremes and it’s really hard to receive any good from the chosen extreme when the relativity to the other side is destroyed.

From the perspective of Schiller, I see yin and yang as a symbol of reason and feeling in harmony. The dark side represents feelings. They are usually uncharted, have unknown sources and are uncontrollable by the host. They are the dark forces that we don’t understand and thus cannot reason about or control. Sometimes they are good feelings, sometimes they are bad, but in any case, once they are in control, we are like passengers in a roller-coaster. The bright side is the reason, it is clearly visible to us and it is directly controlled by our thoughts. The brightness sheds light on the darkness to help us see.

Even if darkness might be perceived as bad, it is quite the opposite. It is what brings us joy, helps us feel human. It is what makes us alive and genuine, giving us the ability to empathize, socialize and create memories. It makes us take risks, induces curiosity to explore and encounter new experiences. Darkness is what gives meaning to the brightness. Brightness, on the other hand, is what allows us to understand and contemplate. It helps us develop new skills and helps us make sense of the darkness. It helps us spread good into the world.

Neither one can exist without the other. Without the uncertainty of our feelings, our reasoning would be meaningless. Imagine knowing the exact course of your life to the exact detail. What would be the point of struggling and thinking through it when there is no uncertainty and no feeling? Is it worth living without the excitement of experiencing new stuff with others and the joy of achievement? Would you keep playing a game even if you beat it 100% of the time with no challenge whatsoever, or solve a puzzle that you already know how to? Likewise, feelings cannot exist without reason. If that was the case, we would be blind followers of feelings, completely dark, nothing to see or think about. Feelings are what we use our reason for. We reason to help us feel good. If reason and our enlightened minds weren’t there, we would merely be an animated series of chemical reactions enclosed in a human-shaped body. No choice, no escape, only reactions to stimuli.

Even though I tried to describe the two sides (bright and dark, reason and feeling) separately, they are naturally inseparable and they always overlap. If they could be divorced, how would yin and yang exist anyway? Brightness can be perceived due to the contrast to the darkness and vice versa. Embrace them both. You are both.

So which one shall we choose, brighten the darkness or darken the brightness? The answer is neither. Leave them as they are. Listen to them both. Exile the one and the other will follow.

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