Yin & Yang.
May 4, 2009
To begin to understand the relationships of the cosmos one must be aware of the symmetry and reciprocity between macrocosm and microcosm. This balance and equality is presented through the concept of yin and yang, which is manifest in everything in creation. Yin reflects the receptive nature while Yang reflects the dominant and active natures. As a whole they come together to encompass all of existence and the balanced forces between all beings. In Islam, marriage is understood as the union of the male and the female, the dominant and the receptive, heaven and earth. It is not only between the microcosm, and human beings, but amongst the macrocosm, the greatness of the heavens and earths that is only but reflected in the human marriage. Yin and Yang are not specifically either the man or the woman but only signify the male and female characteristics that encompass both. Thus, it is imperative that one understands the relationship between macrocosmic and microcosmic marriage in order to truly understand the perfection of beauty and balance of yin and yang.
The first marriage in all of existence was that of the Pen and the Tablet. For the first object of creation by God was the Pen, and He the All-Mighty said to it, “Write that which will be until the Day of Resurrection”. Therefore, the Tablet was created so the Pen could pour all it had to say upon it, measuring out the fate of the world until the Resurrection. It serves as the surface for which the light of the pen, which measures the distance between the heaven and the earth, must write. The masculinity and femininity here is boldly clear in the receptivity of the Tablet and the activity of the Pen. The microcosm needed Adam and Eve to bring everything into existence, while the macrocosm needed the Pen and the Tablet to bring all between the heavens and earth into existence. Of course, in reality one must see how God is the only instructor and the cosmos serves as only a learner, which is seeking and impoverished, and in absolute need of the light.
Heaven and earth bring into essence the greatest marriage of the universe, “In the view of the intellect, heaven is the man and earth the woman. Whatever one throws down, the other nurtures” (Murata 143). Heaven here represents the dominant, yang of the relationship between itself and earth, it is the guiding light, the intellect that shines forth the straight path for mankind, it is from the heavens that the Prophets received their books, from there did the angel Gabriel descend with Muhammad’s revelations. It also provides the nourishment of the physical earth, where the water of life pours forth and lets the earth thrive in its full potential, giving it heat and water through the sun and rain. For it is only through these that life grows, the minerals, plants and animals – “…which He desired to bring into existence in the earth. He made the earth like the wife and the heaven like the husband. The heaven casts something of the command that God revealed to it into the earth…” (143). Thus, without heaven earth would not grow, it wouldn’t have any source of provision, yet without earth, heaven would not have a receptacle to pour its jewels and fruits of life into. One cannot exist without the other; they complete one another and perform the function of the whole, the purpose of their existence, to serve their Creator in their completeness.
Fatherhood and motherhood lets us delve deeper into the ocean of relationships by specifying the macrocosmic relationship a bit more narrowly. While the human being is made up of a spirit, soul and body; the spirit is the highest and purest form, and the soul is “as it were, simply the face of the spirit turned toward the world of lowness and density” (144). Specifically, the soul serves as the intermediary between spirit and body, spirit being the highest and purest light and intellect of the human being while the body is simply dead and dark. When the spirit encompasses the body, the soul shines forth. “Everything that exercises an effect is a father, and everything that receives an effect is a mother. That which is born between the two from the effect is called a son or a child” (145). The father reflects the attributes of the spirit, intelligent, high and giving, while the mother represents the body, “as the man casts water into the woman through intercourse” (143), she is dark and lifeless without the provision of the man, and once they ultimately join in union, the child comes forth. The souls spur forth through the children, and thus, through the tools of fathers and mothers, God creates the souls of the world, the human universe. Further, the father being the head of its family is the dominant force that provides the means for their sustainment while the mother takes the material means provided and nurtures it into the spiritual and emotional health of the family.
Hence, this is precisely where the yin and yang of the family lies, where the children are kept in balance through the qualities of their mother and father, without one or the other they lack the symmetry that lets them grow and thrive in the world. If one possesses knowledge and intellect, but does not properly apply that intelligence in the physical form, in action, then what good is that mind? It is the sufficient knowledge that must be worked out actively and efficiently, in order to produce virtuous and capable effects. “The speech of the architect is a father, and the reception of the listener is a mother. Then the knowledge of the listener becomes a second father, while his limbs become a mother” (146).
It should not fulfill us to learn about the marriages of the cosmos without understanding the inner dimensions of it all, explicated through the various aspects of human marriage specifically. For this is where the union is completed, in both the higher intellect and bodily desire. Marriage for the human being not only signifies the completeness of the whole, the seeking and attaining of one’s partner and other half, but on a deeper level the balance found through marriage pacifies and nourishes the soul in a greater realization its ultimate purpose, the worship of God. It is pertinent here to embrace al-Ghazaali’s contentions on the penetrating effects of mere intimacy between a man and woman. Intimacy is associated with yin names such as Merciful and Loving, while worship and service are associated with yang names such as King and Majestic. Thus, if one deals too much with the names of majesty it will constrict the heart in an increase of awe and fear, hence one only achieves expansiveness through women, who remedy this one sided development of the soul. When one interacts with women through intimacy, intellectual intercourse or the leisure of just being in their company, the heart finds ease and therefore an increase in desire for worship. For diligence in worship brings weariness, constricting the heart, and the ease of true companionship brings the heart back to life and vitality. Therefore, men manifest yin for women, and women manifest yin for men. Muhammad’s close companion Ali once said, “Do not remove rest and ease completely from the hearts, lest they become blind”.
Awareness of one’s weakness, incapacity, and yin position in relationship to the Real is the state of servant hood. Thus, marriage, in learning to be receptive towards one another, it increases your capacity for true servant hood. Thus, man’s degree has to do with the dominance of yang in his case, and yin in hers.Although you cannot in reality attribute any yang qualities to you, bc they only rightfully belong to God.
On the DOJ, man will ask God why he must support his wife and why he alone must support their children, and he asks, Thou hast said in Thy book, The men have a degree over them, Yet we are equal, what then is this degree? He is given the answer as follows: Your degree above her is that I have given you permission to divorce her if you like and keep her if you like, but she does not possess that.” Thus, this verse is specifically referring to the laws of divorce. The Prophet said “The best of you is the best to his wife, and I am the best to my wife. I counsel you to be good to your wives, for they are your helpers…” So basically, he was saying these women are in your hands and are God’s trust with you. Be good to them and desire the best for them, especially that they be pious and worthy, since a pious and worthy woman is the cause of a man’s ease and his help in religion.
A worthy spouse is not of this world, but of the next. ~ The worthy spouse allows you to be free to engage in the work of the next world. When you keep to your worship, if a boredom should appear such that the heart is weared and you fall behind, looking at her and witnessing her gives intimacy and ease to the heart. That power of worship will return and your desire to obey God will be renewed. In trying to understand the Sharia’s ruling over the rites of husbands and wives, it is easy to judge and say that Islam aims to subjugate women in society. However, if you truly read and delve into the meaning, you will clearly see the proof of the dominating power of women in Islamic society. A husband has his functions and a wife hers, however, if the rites of the husband are so strong, how come the points or so over emphasized? Precisely bc men are in many ways weaker than women, so they need the backing of God and the Prophets to set up the right relationship. He can do nothing without them, on the level of relationship bw man and woman, man is impotent w.o woman. Since woman is microcosm, she focuses within herself the strength of every receptive reality in existence. She brings together in herself the power of the whole cosmos. As a result, nothing in the universe is stronger.
Marriage in this abode is for the sake of subsistence of species. Eve came out of Adam’s rib, bc ribs are bent, thereby she may bend towards her children and her spouse. The bending of the man towards the woman is his bends toward his own self, since she is a part of him. When God took Eve from Adam, he filled the empty space with appetite for her, since existence does not allow a vacuum to remain. Thus, Adam rested in her, and she rested in him. She was a garment for him, and he was a garment for her. The Arabic word for womb is Rahim, which derives from the same root as the words rahma and rahman, Mercy and Merciful. The mother’s womb is the lcous of God’s life giving mercy, just as the womb is a branch of God’s mercy, so Eve is a branch of Adam. Hence, love and mercy are the seeking of the whole for its part and the part for its whole. The two join together and from this conjunction become manifest the entities of the children. Spiritually, women can attain all levels even that of the Pole, the supreme spiritual ruler of the age upon whom the existence of the cosmos depends.
If men and women fall short of each other by a certain degree, yet they find fulfillment in each other precisely for that reason. What seperates them gives rise to the desire that brings them back together. In the same way, God’s love for the cosmos bring it into existence, “so that the Hidden Treasure may be known”