Taoist Physics 101 – The Yellow Emperor;s 12 Laws of Yin and Yang

Please Note! Due to the high volume of irritating spam and slow-down of participation here, we are no longer accepting new comments, questions, or subjects on this Forum. We are keeping all the subjects and comments for review as there is a lot of good stuff here relating to practice-building subjects. So, dig deep! Thanks to everyone who participated here but it is time to move on to bigger projects educating the public about acupuncture! Matt Bauer

12-Nov-2013 06:26 AM

Matthew Bauer

Posts: 211

Providing information and ongoing support to help Acupuncturists be successful with their patients and practices is the number one goal of my Making Acupuncture Pay outreach efforts. I also, however, have a deep passion for the study of the original thinking that made this healing system possible. While I don’t think a firm grounding in Taoist science is “necessary” to become a successful acupuncturist, I do believe most acupuncturists don’t have that firm grounding and would be better-off if they did. I had the remarkable good fortune to study Taoist philosophy, spirituality, and history from the person I consider to be the world’s most direct link to the ancient Taoist Sages – 74th generation Taoist Master Hua-Ching Ni.  When I began my studies with Master Ni in 1978 I had no thought of becoming an acupuncturist.  I wanted to learn about Taoist philosophy after being exposed to some of Master Ni’s teachings and studied that subject for about 5 years before I decided to go to acupuncture college. I feel that the grounding I received in how the essential concepts such as Yin/Yang, Five Phases (Elements), qi, etc. were originally conceived and utilized were a big help to me in learning how to become a healer and I want to share some of what I learned here in the hope others may benefit from it.

Many acupuncturists tend to think that concepts such as qi and Yin/Yang are the product of Chinese Medicine but that is no more the case than to think that something like the subject of chemistry is the product of modern medicine. Just as modern sciences were developed from fundamental concepts grounded in physics, Taoist sciences (such as but not limited to the healing sciences) were developed from fundamental concepts grounded in Taoist physics. When it comes to Taoist physics, three concepts are the most fundamental – qi, Yin/Yang, and wu-hsing or the Five Phases/Elements. The complex thing about these three is that they are not really three separate concepts – they are three different aspects of the one greater universal truth – the Tao. Although these three are interrelated, I believe the best place to start to understand the original concepts is with Yin/Yang and the best place to start to understand Yin/Yang is with the Yellow Emperor’s 12 Laws of Yin/Yang.

I don’t know how many of you may have heard of these 12 laws before but I suspect not many have and that is a shame. Nothing could be more fundamental to Taoist thought and so the original thinking behind Chinese Medicine than Yin/Yang and these 12 laws detail the fundamentals of Yin/Yang logic. The one thing I learned from Master Ni that I consider his greatest gift to the world is how by studying his renderings of ancient Taoist teachings you start to see a beautiful, complete, and entirely internally consistent logic to these ancient concepts. Many scholars today doubt that the legendary pre-historic Taoist Sages truly existed but I would argue that these same scholars don’t fully understand the profound nature of Taoist science. Once you start the grasp how deeply these concepts pierce the veil of mystery surrounding the nature of life, you are less inclined to doubt the possibility of their pre-historic origins.  I am posting this thread both on the MAP Facebook page and on the MAP Forum. Feel free to use either for any discussion but the Forum is the better venue for digging into more details. I hope you enjoy this subject matter and invite your feedback.  



The Yellow Emperor’s 12 laws of Yin and Yang

From Hua-Ching Ni’s “Tao – The Subtle Universal Law and the Integral Way of Life”



  1. That which produces and composes the universe is Tao, the undivided oneness or ultimate Nothingness.
  2. Tao polarizes itself: yang becomes the active pole of the cosmos, yin becomes the solidified pole.
  3. Yang and yin are opposites and each accomplishes the other.
  4. All beings and things are complex aggregates of universal energy composed of infinitely varying proportions of yin and yang.
  5. All beings and things are in a dynamic state of change; nothing is absolutely static or completed; all is in unceasing motion as polarization, the source of being, is without beginning and without end.
  6. Yin and yang attract one another.
  7. Nothing is entirely yin or entirely yang; all phenomena are composed of both yin and yang.
  8. Nothing is neutral. All phenomena are composed of unequal proportions of yin and yang.
  9. The force of attraction between yin and yang is greater when the difference between them is greater and smaller when it is smaller.

10. Like activities repel one another. The closer the similarity between two entities of the same polarity, the greater is their repulsion.

11. At the extremes of development, yin produces yang and yang produces yin.

12. All beings are yang in their essential core and yin in their physical make up.

Matthew Bauer