From Here to Infinity and Back Again

Door Cor de Vrieze gepubliceerd op Thursday 04 April 15:51

It's quite some time ago that I quit macrobiotics. Nevertheless I still think the following article is a good one. In my opinion the Seven Principles and the Twelve Laws of the Infinite Universe are a great contribution to a better and deeper understanding of the philosophy of Yin and Yang.


by Cor de Vrieze

A Yin and a Yang approach to the Order of the Universe

In the autumn of 1995 macrobiotic consultant Jes Schalkwijk asked the editors of Macro'drome, the magazine of the Dutch Macrobiotic Association,  to publish the Seven Princi­ples and the Twelve Laws of the Infinite Universe in the magazine. In her experience these principles and laws are hardly known in today's Dutch speaking macrobi­o­tic community.

How come, I wondered? ls it because words like differentiation, contradicti­on, antagonism, complementary, etc., common in English and French, are acade­mic terms in Dutch? I set out to translate the seven princi­ples and twelve laws into everyday Dutch language.


Random order

In the process of doing so, I looked more and more into these principles and laws. I discovered that in the course of time changes and additions had been made. I compared the seven principles and the twelve laws which George Ohsawa presented in "Zen Macrobiotics" with those Michio Kushi published in "Natural Healing through Macrobiotics".

A new element in Michio Kushi's book is the appearance of the tenth law: "Large Yin attracts small Yin. Large Yang attracts small Yang".

Apart from the changes and additions were made, also the numbering of the principles and laws differs in the various publications. The orders I found didn't make sense to me. They seemed to be arbitrary.

It also struck me that the idea that everything is created in spirals, cannot be found in these principles and laws, despite the fact that it is such an important notion in Macrobiotics.


Improving theory and practice

I remembered George Ohsawa's words, that we should continually improve the theory and practice of macrobiotics, and correct him, if necessary, in places where he was wrong. With this in my mind I decided to try and improve the seven principles and twelve laws by rear­ranging their order and by adding this important notion of spirals.


A Yin and a Yang way to look at the Order of the Universe

Michio Kushi stated that the Eternal Order of the Universe can be seen and understood in two ways: "The Seven Universal Principles of the Infinite Universe" and "The Twelve Laws of Change of the Infinite Univer­se".

Only two ways, I wondered? Or is it possible to rearrange the principles and laws in such a way that we get a Yin description of the Order of the Universe and a Yang one? Wouldn't that be even more elegant, when we are demonstrating our practical philosop­hy in an antagonistic and complementary way?

Look here, dear reader, this is what I came up with:


Seven Steps To Heaven

1.         The principle of finality: What has a beginning has an end.

2.         The principle of antagonism: What has a front has a back.

3.         The principle of balance: The bigger the front, the bigger the back.

4.         The principle of non-identity: Nothing is identical. Everything changes constantly.

5.         The principle of complementary antagonisms: All phenomena can be reduced to antagonisms. All antagonisms are complementary:

                        to take - to give

                        to give - to receive

                        to receive - to pay

                        to pay - to collect

                        Yin - Yang      

6.         The principle of Yin and Yang: All antagonisms can be reduced to two tendencies: Yin and Yang, which complement each other.

7.         The unique and unifying principle: Yin and Yang are the two arms of Infinity.


Et voila, look what we have got here. Now we have a Yin approach to the Order of the Infinite Universe. Starting with the phenomena in the mate­rial world, going through some evident observations, we find that all phe­nomena can be reduced to Yin and Yang and we end up in the arms of Infinity. A beautiful construction of principles, which explains step by step how phenomena in our everyday world can be reduced tot Yin and Yang, to Infinity. A journey from the material world - Yang - to the spiritual world - Yin - Infinity. Seven Steps to Heaven! Isn't that Yin?

Isn't this the logical, or should I say the more natural starting point to make newco­mers to macrobiotics familiar with Yin and Yang?

Now of course you'd like to know if I can cook up a Yang approach of the Order of the Universe as well. Here is my suggestion:


The Twelve Descriptions of Creation, Change and Movement

 1.        Infinity manifests itself continuously in two antagonistic and comple­mentary tendencies, Yin and Yang.

 2.        Yin and Yang together produce energy and all phenomena. Combined in varying proportions they produce different phenomena.

 3.        All phenomena are ephemeral, moving and constantly changing. In the process they continuously change their proportion of Yin and Yang.

 4.        Nothing is solely Yin or solely Yang. Everything is composed of Yin and Yang in varying degrees.

 5.        Yin and Yang never cancel each other anywhere. Everything has Yin or Yang in excess.

 6.        Yin represents centrifugality and causes expansion, lightness, cold, etc. Yang represents centripetality and produces contraction, weight, heat, light, etc.

 7.        All manifestations grow and die out spiral­wise and are Yang at the centre, and Yin at the surface.

 8.        Extreme Yin produces Yang. And extreme Yang produces Yin.

 9.        Yin attracts Yang. Yang attracts Yin.

10.       Yin repels Yin. Yang repels Yang.

11.       Large Yin attracts small Yin. Large Yang attracts small Yang.

12.       The attraction and repulsion among phenomena is proportional to the difference of the Yin and Yang forces.



Please note that in the fourth law the "spiralwise"-notion is combined with the notion that all manifestations are Yang at the centre, and Yin at the surface. You can imagine that spirals are created under the influence of centripetal and centrifugal forces.


Back again

Can you agree with me that we have now travelled back from Infinity to our everyday world, with a detailed explanation of the characteristics and the use of our tools Yin and Yang? The natural step after becoming familiar with the concepts of Yin and Yang, putting Yin and Yang into practice?

The first seven descriptions explain how Yin and Yang manifest themselves, how they produce every phenome­na and what they represent and what they do. Finally, in the last five descriptions, every possible reaction that Yin and Yang can produce is described. Here we have returned from infinity, back again in our everyday world, enriched with the practical knowled­ge of Yin and Yang. Isn't that a nice Yang feeling?


The fourth description demonstrated in our philosophy

Since I call theory Yin and practice Yang, we now have a Yin approach to the order of the Universe: the theory of Yin and Yang expressed in the Seven Steps to Heaven.

And we have a Yang approach: the explanation of the practical applicati­ons of Yin and Yang in the twelve descriptions.

But how wonderful: even in these antagonistic and complementary appro­aches to the Order of the Universe we see the fourth description demonstrated: "Nothing is solely Yin or solely Yang. Everything is composed of Yin and Yang in varying degrees." Some of the seven principles can be applied practically and some of the Twelve Descriptions meet our desire for theoretical explanation.


The Unique Principle

Finally we end up with the Unique Principle. Isn't it strange to speak of a Unique Principle? Isn't it supposed to be the one and only principle in macrobiotics? Well, I see it this way: the Unique Principle is the all-embracing principle of macrobiotics. It serves like an umbrella under which the seven principles and the twelve descriptions give a detailed explanation of this Unique Principle, which is the seventh principle in my presentation.


Infinity is Yin and Yang

Sometimes this seventh principle is explained as: Yin and Yang are produ­ced continuously by Infinity. In my opinion "being produced" is just a manner of speaking. Can you imagine the 24-hour cycle of a day without a daytime and a nighttime? Can you imagine a rhythm without silences between the beats? Same way with Infinity: without the two arms of Yin and Yang there is no Infinity. Can we put it this way: Infinity is Yin and Yang?


In conclusion I hope the above will have contributed to an elegant presenta­tion of the Order of the Infinite Universe which makes it even more fun to explain, teach and under­stand our practical philosophy.


Copyright © 1998, 2015, Cor de Vrieze


Previously published approximately 1998 in the Newsletter of the International Macrobiotic Assembly

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