The Two Basic Ways of Meeting Life's Confrontations - 1
When human beings live at a purely biological,
instinctual, animal-like level of existence, their reaction when faced with potentially harmful and/or painful situations is to adjust as smoothly as possible to what is happening, opposing a minimum of emotional resistance to natural events, flowing with the tide of change which they trust will once more bring favorable conditions. They do not feel separate from nature and its tidal and seasonal movements; and not feeling separate, they move inwardly with the change, instinctively following whatever path to safety presents itself to their alert senses and their opportunistic minds
An automatic ability to effect needed readjustments is inbred in all living beings that unquestioningly and unconsciously fulfill their parts in the organic processes of the nature-whole to which they totally belong: the Earth's biosphere. Man, however, has within himself the capacity somehow to separate himself from the flow of events and ever-changing life-situations; he becomes aware that they happen to him — a "him" that has a degree of objectivity and permanence within the flux of unceasing natural changes.
Man not only remembers his past experiences, but he is also able to communicate these remembrances to other human beings and to his progeny, and to the progeny of his progeny. In so doing he takes a stand that separates him enough from the happenings confronting him to enable him to observe the regularity of most of their sequences. He begins to interpret sequences of events and repeated series of experiences as "entities" having a definite character. He "names" these entities, and he is then faced with the problem of discovering and consistently carrying out the best, most secure and satisfying type of approach relating to these entities which — as we now realize — are personifications of what we call "forces of nature."
Some cultures reach maturity by stressing, sooner or later, the special ability human beings generically have to develop an objective and distinct awareness of natural forces and phenomena, and the will to forcibly control
these in order to overcome the dangers and inclemency inherent in living in the biosphere. Other cultures, perhaps because of a more favorable, less hostile environment, as they reach a state of mature consciousness retain the adaptive
approach which is fundamental in all pre-human species; but such cultures nevertheless constantly strive to transform this instinctual and primordial attitude by raising it to the level of a fully developed consciousness able not only to respond to the biological rhythms of human existence, but to resonate to the far more inclusive and clear vibrations of a higher Nature.
Most human beings are deeply and usually irrevocably conditioned by the general collective attitude and the great symbols or paradigms of the culture in which they were born and educated. Yet, especially in times of widespread crises of transformation, there are people who, either because of their temperament and parental inheritance or because they feel an innate urge to assert their independence from the collectivity, come to adopt a type of living reflecting a basic philosophy radically different from that of their ancestors. Because all over the globe at the present time of human evolution these cases have become very frequent and have given rise to deep-seated psychological problems, it is imperative for us to emphasize the existence of two basic ways in which human beings meet and respond to their experiences.
Our Western civilization, especially during the last five centuries, has officially accepted and powerfully implemented by a variety of social and cultural institutions one of these two ways: the way of forceful control or mastery over natural forces through a special use of the mind. Unfortunately, the intensity and exclusivism of this implementation may have now resulted in a potentially catastrophic world-situation; and, as could be expected, a strong reaction against the still deeply entrenched, official trend has begun to surface. The result has been characterized as a "revolution of consciousness." It is leading to an ideological struggle far deeper than the political "cold war" between nations. It also manifests as a state of intense mental and spiritual confusion which has its repercussions upon all fields of human activity and consciousness — including the field of astrology.
In order to help dissipate this confusion, it seems essential to make as clear as possible the difference between the two basic ways in which human beings approach their everyday life-experiences and react to all kinds of meetings — meetings with complex social situations and unfamiliar facts as well as meetings with other people. These two ways can best be understood in their many implications if they are related to even more fundamental principles or polarities which can be seen operating everywhere and at all times because they are inherent in whatever can be said to exist. Existence, like electricity, is a bi-polar phenomenon. Long ago in China these two polarities were named Yang
; and because these terms have recently been widely popularized in relation to the old book of oracles, the I-Ching
, I shall use them to identify these most characteristic features of the two basic ways in which human beings act and react to either external impacts or internal changes. I shall briefly show how these two approaches affect the basic life-outlooks expressed in religions and philosophies and even in scientific theories concerning the nature of the world; and I shall also indicate how they condition the way astrologers look at the material they use and interpret the relationship between a person and his or her birth-chart.
I must, however, make it very clear that in using the terms Yang and Yin I am doing so according to their philosophical, cosmological, and psychological meaning, as I believe they were understood in the original Chinese tradition of the I-Ching
. I am not using the words according to the Japanese system recently popularized in America and Europe as "macrobiotics" — a system particularly associated in most people's minds with diet and food, even if it is also presented as a general way of life. This popular system may have validity; but it is hard to prove and justify classifying food and social attitudes as either Yang or Yin unrelated in practice to the original Chinese philosophical and cosmological concepts. In saying this I am not passing judgment on the Japanese system; I simply want to stress that in this volume, or any other of my writings, I am using the old Chinese terms in a way that does not correspond with their macrobiotic meaning.(1
The word macrobiotic is a strange neologism, especially when applied to a very Japanese type of system. The combination of the Greek prefix "macro" with the term "bio" (meaning "life") hardly seems significant. Life can neither be characterized as "macro" or "micro". It is a polarized mode of energy which, for all practical purposes, is associated with conditions prevailing on a particular type of planet, but which has also been given a cosmic and metaphysical meaning as "the One Life" of a universe considered as an organism. Return
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