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Cosmic Yin Yang (Long Read)

Started by NatsuTerran, February 25, 2012, 02:22:44 AM

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This is a blog/journal post I made just now. It is very philosophical in nature, but I felt like it didn't quite fit in the philosophy forum because it bashes the methods of philosophy and doesn't pose questions for it. Hopefully others might find my thoughts interesting. If you aren't up for a long read on my personal thoughts ranging from politics, spirituality, and philosophy, don't post any "cool story bro's" or TL;DR, just find another thread :)

One of the most important and re-occurring lessons I have learned in life is that anything taken to an extreme is not good. Too much water and you drown, too little and you dehydrate. Too much studying and you get a headache, too little and you fail. There is seemingly nothing that cannot apply to this concept. The idea of balance has been something that I have strived to place value on for quite a while.

   The past couple weeks have been very enlightening, but also containing an unpleasant sense of ambiguity. It started with a video that was optional to watch from a guest speaker in my Psychological Thinking course. The video was over the differences between liberals and conservatives on a more empirical level. Two messages from the speaker in the video jumped out at me. 1. It is important to step outside of the political matrix and view things as they are, and not to write off the opposing parties as ignorant. 2. The different ideals counter-balance each other like Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang do not hate each other.

   This prompted a lot of soul-searching in me as I find it interesting to really get at the heart of what makes different people have different beliefs. One thing I learned is that Liberals are more big-picture, more disorderly in thoughts, and can hold conflicting pieces of information without clinging to one out of bias. Conservatives see things through a magnifying glass, are more structured and "dogmatic" in their thoughts, and are more subjective and intuitive in their thinking, rather than objective. Another thing I feel I should mention is that I believe American conservatives are to the extreme right, and communists are to the extreme left. I don't see Liberalism as being one side of an extreme, although if you've lived in America only you might see it that way. But I see Liberalism as the middle ground between the extremes of anarchy and communism.

   This breakdown really sums up my thoughts of the two parties as perfectly as possible. I have continually tried to identify the key differences between the two groups. In reality, the groups I have constructed in my head are 1. My own personal ingroup, consisting of liberal atheists, and 2. The outgroup that I am intolerant of, consisting of conservative/libertarian religious people. I have been trying to form a sense of acceptance to my outgroup. Not only out of sheer decency, but it gives me piece of mind and keeps me from being depressed about other peoples' differing views.
    Some key constructs and ideas that I have been thinking about are logic vs. intuition, science vs. common sense, mental vs. physical, power vs. happiness.

   I feel like liberals are more logical in that they analyze data as objectively as possible in coming to conclusions. Most people learn to be more liberal through college education, which teaches critical thinking abilities. Liberals seem less likely to me to perform post hoc fallacies, which conservatives fall for a dime a dozen. Conservatives think more intuitively in that they believe that their personal feelings tell the whole story about how things are or must be.

   I could break down the rest but it will get redundant. The last one came to me through ruminating on two popular quotes. They are "Knowledge is power," and "Ignorance is bliss." Are you seeing the bipolarity yet? In my childhood I lived for bliss. I didn't have a care in the world, and could only think about satisfying my own personhood at any given moment. I cared more about video games and having fun than studying or working at something. Now I have turned to just the opposite extreme. In my adulthood I have become obsessed with knowledge, intellectual pursuits, and learning, even at the expense of having fun. It took me a bit of reminiscing to remember that I used to live a completely different lifestyle, and that I would actually prefer to move back to that.

   This brings me to my ultimate point. Yin and yang exist in some way, and they actually do not hate each other. Balance is perhaps the most integral concept I have discovered in terms of ultimate well-being in life.

   Knowledge, critical thinking, logic, book smarts, etc. These are things that show what is actually there and true for reality. It cuts out the subjective biases and "he said, she said" that is so intrinsic to individual humans, and it jumps straight at the heart of reality. Empiricism bears the only truth that existence itself recognizes.

   Intuition, feelings, emotion, Street smarts, etc. These are the things that show what actually matters, not for reality, but for the individual. All of the scientific facts in the world are meaningless if one cannot apply them towards making life more enjoyable. Common sense depicts how we should use what we learn to better our own lives.

   The balance between these two factors should become clear now. Too much logic and you live a life that is devoid of happiness. Sure, you are powerful, but it allows the joy of life to completely pass it by. Too much intuition and you end up pursuing hopeless ideals that aren't grounded in reality. There are logical truths that apply to all of us, and ignoring the scientific method leaves you at odds with any other individual with no means of reaching common ground. It is the essence of warfare.

   As a liberal atheist, I have often shown my bias in favor of critical thinking. I have always claimed that subjective feelings are useless and should be discarded. Objective reality is all that matters. But I was wrong on that. While it is true that our perceptions and experiences are entirely subjective and relative, that does not mean they do not still possess value. It is the realization that I am perfectly happy with my life in terms of how intelligent, well-researched, and knowledgeable I am, but I am not content with the overall happiness in my life in terms of more personal matters. When I was a child I was at just the opposite end of the spectrum. So it is clear to me now that human beings need both halves of their yin yangs filled. There is a certain balance to be struck. But we can't have everything, so the only question remaining is to know when to apply logic and when to follow your heart.

   Today I had a large coincidence occur. A couple things were circulating in my mind that I wanted to remind myself to look at online. I first wanted to look at yin yang necklaces, and to consider ordering one. The second was to look at an old board game I had when I was 6 or 7, but I remember not much about it. When I got to the second task, on the page with the board game dissertation that I found through Google, there was a red and blue yin yang as the avatar next to the page's host's name. How strange that, just as I was coming to terms with the power of balance and yin yangs, that one should appear immediately after.

   Is this occurrence evidence of something supernatural? Was it a sign of some sort? Or was it just a large coincidence? Would it not be more peculiar if I had no large coincidences in my life at all? The fact that we live so long, and the sheer lack of large experiences like this occurring (this is the second one in my life, and the first did not occur after a "revelation.") leads me to believe that this was just the law of large numbers taking place. As a Psychology major, I am well aware that our minds tend to glorify patterns and coincidences when we stumble upon them, but think nothing of all the thousands upon thousands of days we have spent where no coincidences occurred.

   I am an open-minded individual, and the thought did cross my mind. Is God just a cosmic Yin Yang? Is there a supernatural force that humans the world over have encountered in the same way I have, and they simply came to different conclusions about what it was? These are all unanswerable questions. But I would still like to disclose the extent that I went to in my thought processes. I started thinking, "remember what prompted the 'sign' in the first place. Critical thinking shows what is actually true, and intuition shows what merely helps the individual in life." In this case, my intuition prompting me to think some supernatural force caused this in order to give me a sign was the first thing I thought. I then tried to rationalize it through logical thinking. Many, many people logically rationalize away things such as this on every aspect of their lives. They just don't always notice that the same process can be applied to the supernatural. If this was a sign, what was the message? What should I have taken from it? If I asked a Buddhist, I am certain I would get a different answer than if I asked a Christian, or a Hindu. This is the flaw of subjective thinking in my opinion. All that should matter is what the sign means to me. But it means nothing to me. Just a couple sentences ago I asked, "what was the message?" While my mind did leap to the conclusion that it might be a sign of some sort, I never once had a clear message in mind as to what it was supposed to mean for me. Was it a force telling me I am on the right track with my newfound philosophy of balance? Was it the Christian God giving me my one and only sign that I would have to take in order to live eternally? Was it a Desitic God looking out for my own well-being? How smart was this supernatural entity? Was it just a medium to large sized coincidence? If it was truly an omniscient being it would know I have OCD and it would know the thought processes that would occur if such a sign were delivered to me. And ultimately, it should know that this information does not, and could not, change anything about my worldview. I would need more coincidences, and they would need to have a rhyme and reason, not just random pop-ups.
This is how I interpret it, but I realize many others would come to vastly different conclusions about the nature of a single little event. I feel like situations like these are precisely what gave birth to most religions. Now keep in mind that it was my own personal thoughts that led me to look for the board game. I would have never encountered this if I never felt the urge to check. So if my thoughts were being guided by something, that means my thoughts were violated and I do not have free will. If my thoughts were left alone, then the host's thoughts were violated in that he was forced to like using a yin yang as an emblem. Furthermore, it is important to realize that this coincidence could have come in different forms, with varying levels of extraordinary. For example, suppose instead of a yin yang, the host had a quote along the lines of "variety is the spice of life" or "balance is key." A little bit less of a coincidence, but still a coincidence. Or what if, as soon as I was done thinking about all of this yin yang and balance philosophy, my eyes fell onto someone's shoes who just so happened to be wearing "new balance." If I really thought about it, there are a myriad of things that could have prompted a mini "freak-out moment" in terms of questioning things. I have no doubt that a person who thinks more intuitively would jump to conclusions and make up a supernatural being, just to meet it halfway due to this scenario and others like it.
The final point I entertained was the nature of God/gods. As an atheist, I have long abandoned most philosophical ramblings about why God cannot exist, because I tend to be more science-minded now and feel like the "just doesn't make sense" arguments are intuitive arguments for atheism, and not objective arguments. But that is all beside the point. One thing I thought of was how we come to think certain things are impossible about God. The whole "Can God make a burrito so hot that even He could not eat it?" When thinking about Balance as a new concept for God, I ran into something similar. "If too much of anything is not good, can there be too much of Balance?" Mind=Blown.
It is at this point that I realized something. I went back to my original thoughts about logical thinking vs. intuitive thinking. What was the result I came to again? Objective thinking shows what is actually there, and Empiricism bears the only truth that existence itself perceives. It strikes right at the heart of my favoritism for critical thinking. So does this mean God/Yin Yang are not actually there in outer space, waiting on the edge of the universe? I went back to my inquiry. "If too much of anything is no good, can there be too much Balance?"
But think about this for a second. If there is too much balance, how could you possibly call it balance? If God isn't perfectly good, powerful, and knowledgeable, then why call it God? The supernatural entity of coincidences, if there even is one, gives no signs whatsoever as to what we should or should not do. If anything, it gives conflicting messages to all the people on earth. Either that or it's the same spiritual force that all humans the world over interpreted differently. Even more believable to me is that our minds did not evolve to be infallible for problem-solving abilities, and that our intuition and subjective feelings constantly give us false messages. Logical fallacies exist and they are extremely abundant. The very fact that we as humans had to get together and use objective, critical thinking to come up with a list of common mistakes that people make in basic logic tells me that intuitive philosophical ruminations are fairly impractical in terms of showing what is actually there. But that doesn't mean it is meaningless.
Going back to the concept of balance, why would we call it balance if we have too much of it? I believe the answer to that is because balance does not exist objectively in the natural world. It is merely our perception of what it means in our lives. For example, a balanced day for me could consist of 2 hours of studying, 3 hours of games, 2 hours of chatting, the obligatory 2-3 hours of getting ready or tending to biological needs, etc. But is that objective balance, or is it just my own conception of balance? That's when it hit me. There is no such thing as balance just as there is likely no such thing as God. In my example day, it *could* have been more balanced no matter what. I could have added any number of events to that list, but who would want such a stressful day filled to the brim with hundreds of activities every minute? And the hypothetical day *could* have been less balanced no matter what. I could potentially take it to such an extreme as sitting and meditating all day in the same spot. What balance actually is, then, is how we perceive it, and how the individual perceives it to be helpful.

It is not the concept of balance that matters at all, whether we consider it as existing objectively as a supernatural entity or as a concept in our heads. The part that matters is the utility of the concept, and what we do with it. In my case, it helps give me direction in a subjective way in order to remind myself not to overthink things, and to remember to tend to my biological side. Likewise, I think everyone's concept of "God" follows the same rules. It doesn't even matter if it exists or not, and if you really think about the track records of objective thinking vs. intuitive thinking, it likely doesn't, but what matters is that this mental construct helps people in various ways to cope with the rigors of life.


What I found most interesting about your post is why did you equate yin yang with god? The entire original concept of yin yang (and tao prior to it) is that it is intrinsically atheistic and actually opposed in its concept to a monotheistic idea of a god.

What was the game btw?
Retired member.


The coincidence is what made me see a correlation between the concepts. I guess after that, it was me just asking "why" balance is so quintessential, like is there a force that causes this? Even scientifically minded people give in to strange logic at times. I realize the whole "why" question is pretty irrelevant, but it still made me question the nature of balance and if it exists in reality as an entity. That's when I started drawing connections between a personal god and my idea of balance.

The board game was Jurassic Park, the one based on the first movie. I pretty much grew up with that series, and I have the second 2 board games. But when I had the first one I was like 5 or 6 years old and didn't remember a thing about it. The other night I was talking on the phone and reminiscing about nostalgic things such as that. So I got the idea to look up the first board game online to jog my memory. ^__^