Friday, August 29, 2008

The Origin of This Picture is Unknown

Take a look at the first two characters of the third line. 阴 is romanized as "yin", as in yin and yang. Yin and Yang are a set of opposites that underlie all creation. In general, yin relates to the moon and things that are cold, dark, contracting, downward moving and female. In general, yang relates to the sun and things that are warm, bright, expansive, upward moving and male.

Everything (absolutely everything) in the universe has yin and yang within it. Although yin generally relates to the "female principle" and yang generally relates to the "male principle", it is an elementary mistake to equate everything female with yin and male with yang (see Charlotte Furth, "Blood, Body and Gender: Medical Images of the Female Condition in China, 1600-1850", 1986. Chinese Science 7: 43-66 and "Concepts of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infancy in Ch'ing Dynasty China", 1987, Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1 for an example of this mistaken thinking).

The next character is 道, which is romanized as "dao". This is the Dao or (Tao) or Daoism, and can mean the Way, a road, a path. If your mind works a certain way, your next question is, path to where? Way of what? In regular Chinese grammar, 道 is usually preceded by another character - 武道 meaning the Way of martial arts or war, 茶道 meaning the Way of tea. Taken by itself, 道 becomes a subject for philosophical inquiry, meditation, contemplation.

In the case of our unfortunately translated picture above, the 阴道 is the pathway of yin - the vagina. The vagina can be thought of as a pathway to the ultimate physical expression of yin in the world of humans - the interior world of a woman. It should therefore be treated with respect and care by those fortunate enough to have one and by everyone who is fortunate enough to come in contact with one.

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