‘Good’ and ‘bad’

The most fundamental idea of daoism — of all ancient Chinese science and philosophy, in fact — is that of yin and yang. The Law of Yin and Yang states that everything has two opposite sides that alternate, balance each other and complement each other. Day follows night and night follows day; hot balances cold and cold balances hot; what goes up must come down. The two sides are inseparable: each side needs the other and one cannot exist without the other.

This has an interesting implication: neither side is better than the other, neither is good nor bad in and of itself. In practical terms, it means that certain things are beneficial in certain situations and harmful in others. For instance, very warm clothing can help keep us healthy in cold weather, but can make us ill in hot weather.

The same is true for all natural phenomena. Viruses, for instance, are something we think of as being ‘bad.’ Yet there are times when exposure to viruses is good. It can help us build up our immune system, as described in Flu shots. It can even help slow down the progression of a serious disease, as described in ALS and viruses.

When we shift our thinking from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to the idea of balance, we can better understand the world and deal with it, which makes life a lot simpler and less stressful.

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