If human life on earth is moving towards a state of extreme acceleration, heat and stress, then we are currently living in a phase of “Yangnification”. In the ancient Chinese tradition of wisdom, yang stands for movement and heat, represented by the sky and the sun, in contradistinction to yin which incarnates calmness and coolness, represented by the earth and the moon. The surface of the earth and its waters are suffering from an overexploitation of the forces of yang, which have dominated and driven the most recent history towards an extreme state of imbalance.
The rising temperature on earth is just one more symptom of this imbalance. Behind it are centuries of restless growth, driven by an aggressive attitute of continuous expansion without limits. The highest expressions of yin, quietness and calmness, have no intrinsic value in this “yangnified” scheme of things which exploits rest merely as a springboard for further growth and expansion thereby slowly using up the ressources of the earth.
We have become disconnected from the earth, says Jane Goddall in one of her latest books, and this disconnection entails losing contact with the fruits, the vegetables and the waters of the earth. How many millions of people all over the world get through the day without consuming any of these vital things coming from the earth? Many of them do not have access to them, but almost as many because they choose not to. Late modern urban life style feeds on fast food, virtual worlds and working long hours. Yet, lately there have been several countermovements in the form of slow food, worlding and de-growth which introduce the features of yin forces into our lives again.
It all comes down to finding the balance between the two major forces in our lives, starting with the earth as the basis for keeping the balance, and the sky as the horizon for our highest aspirations. The problem, which we are facing today, is that we are growing and progressing at an unsustainable pace. We have literally lost touch with the ground, the foundation for further development. We are burning up the material basis of our lives, drying up the land, emptying the ressources and contaminating the atmosphere, yang over yin. The only way back is taking the heat out of the flame, which we have let loose, calming down the accelerated pace of late modern furore and beginning to build our world on a truly sustainable development.