For me the roles of a Mother and a Father brings me to the concepts of the Yin-Yang, which is one of the central precepts of Chinese philosophy. One scholar of modern Chinese Medicine, Giovanni Maciocia summarizes the Yin-Yang relationship into 4 main aspects:
- The opposition of Yin and Yang, as displayed in night and day; night is Yin and day is Yang. "However, the opposition is relative, not absolute, in so far as nothing is totally Yin or totally Yang. Everything contains the seed of its opposite."
- The interdependence of Yin and Yang, "one cannot exist without the other."
- Mutual consumption of Yin and Yang, in which both Yin-Yang are "in a constant state of dynamic balance," "maintained by a continuous adjustment of the relative levels of Yin and Yang."
- The inter-transformation of Yin and Yang, in which Yin-Yang "are not static, but they actually transform into each other: Yin can change into Yang and vice versa. This change does not happen at random, but only at a certain stage of development of something."
I find it also very appropriate that we are celebrating Father's Day in June, as we are heading to the highest point of the sun in the northern hemisphere around the 21st of June, the Summer Solstice. From a Yin-Yang perspective of the Earth, this is the Yang at its extreme, at its zenith; Yang within the Yang. That means from this point forth in the year, the sun will begin its descent which will culminate at its nadir around the 21st of December, Yin within Yin. Back to the extreme Yang, as we approach the Summer Solstice we can feel in ourselves the rising of our energy, the expansion and opening of the external parts of our being. If Yin is the female, deep, dark, nourishing principle, the Yang is the male, outward, bright, movement principle. These descriptions of Yang sound much like a role of a Father to me. The Yang aspect provides an individual the ability to be courageous and adventurous; to explore the world around her/himself with confidence. This means being able to try things out and find her/himself in the world.
"Children with a healthy maternal matrix will test their limits freely knowing that they can easily return to the mother should things get uncomfortable. Children with healthy father role models are encouraged and inspired to experience new things because they can see the confidence and enthusiasm in their father's eyes." (Farrell, 2016: 94)
As Yin-Yang exists in all of us, it means the Father role can be coming from a female too, just as the Mother role model can come from a male. This is what the Yin-Yang shows us, we have both female/male, maternal/paternal aspects in us, in varying degrees. What most of us have experienced in our societies are extremes of the roles, where females manifest the maternal nourishing role in the home and were not allowed to display their outward, adventurous nature, and males only allowed their paternal providing-nature but not their gentle nourishing aspects. We are a product of our societal conditioning. What if both Mothers and Fathers can provide both nourishment, adventurousness and courage for new experiences? What if both parents are allowed to be present for their children as they are growing up? What if both parents are given equal respect for the things they do and provide for their children? It is time to change the conditioning, as it has not served us well.
So many of us grow up seeing little or none of our Fathers, as they were out there working to provide for their family or were not given the space/time to be present with their children. As I read this last phrase from Yvonne Farrell referring to "father's eyes," it reminds me of Eric Clapton's song, "My Father's Eyes." It was only recently that I became aware of Mr. Clapton's story of not knowing his own father, like so many in the world. I am very touched by the song. For the Fathers of the world...
Farrell Yvonne R. (2016): Psycho-Emotional Pain and the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. London: Singing Dragon.
Maciocia, Giovanni (1989): The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Image baby-father's fingers by RitaE on pixabay
Image Tai Ji Symbol by clker-free-vector-images on pixabay