Supplementary Entries and Texts for the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF KOREAN BUDDHISM by the Venerable Hyewon and Professor David A. Mason
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eum-yang 음양 陰陽 would have been on page 181 yin-yang complimentary and balancing dualities
Literally meaning "shadow-bright" and originally indicating the sunny (southern) and darker (northern) sides of a mountain or ridge, this is one of the oldest concepts in all East Asian culture, a “universal principle” at the very root of every philosophy that developed in the Oriental regions, including Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and classical science, martial arts and medicine. It was first expressed in China’s Juyeok- gyeong (周易經, Zhou I Ching, Classic Book of Changes from the Chou 周 Dynasty), East Asia’s oldest and most profound collection of religious cosmology, divination and philosophical scriptures. It describes how seemingly opposite or contrary factors or forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, are complimentary to each other, balance each other and give rise to each other as they inter-relate. It is employed in a wide variety of ways throughout Korean Buddhism.
Many natural and social dualities such as light vs. dark, hard vs. soft, hot vs. cold, tight vs. loose, high vs. low, fire vs. water, earth vs. heaven, male vs. female, birth vs. death, good fortune or karma vs. bad fortune or karma, exalted vs. humble, powerful vs. weak, strict vs. lenient, hate vs. love, stress vs. relaxation, pain vs. pleasure, deluded attachment vs. enlightenment and etc. are thought of as manifestations of this concept; in all these pairs the former is considered yang (陽) and the latter eum (陰). To fully understand these abstract concepts it is useful to think of a spiral; yang is the direction of spiraling inwards and eum is the opposite direction of spiraling outwards.
Eum and yang are complementary forces or factors, not really 'opposing' and never stagnant, interacting to form a whole greater than either separate part; in effect, a dynamic and wholistic system. When one approaches the maximum of its influence the other one is stimulated to rise, and the first inevitably declines; this cycling is endless and multifarious. Everything has aspects of both, and they cannot exist separately; light cannot exist without dark, there is no male without "female", and so-on. This is in some sense the opposite of the Middle-Eastern and Western concepts of ultimate good vs. evil, because eum and yang are equivalent in moral value, one can never be said to be better than the other except in specific circumstances, they are not ‘at war’ and there is never any final triumph of one over the other.
Either of these factors or forces may be manifesting stronger in a particular object or at a particular time, depending on the criterion of the observation; discernment of their tendencies is a key aspect of banya (般若, wisdom; prajñā). Transcendence of intellectual and emotional attachment to all the dualities represented by eum-yang is a key aspect of seongbul (成佛, enlightenment).