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This is a commentary on chapter VI of the Tao Te King, the milenary book of chinese philosophy in which my mind and spirit use to relax from unrest from anxiety, during meditation.

Xue Yanqun – Rights reserved

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This chapter is a very short one:
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谷神不死,是謂玄牝。
玄牝之門,是謂天地根。
綿綿若存,用之不勤。

*

The valley spirit, undying
Is called the Mystic Female

The gate of the Mystic Female
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth

It flows continuously, barely perceptible
Utilize it; it is never exhausted
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xue-yanqun-117 b

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‘Valle, espíritu, inmortal;

llámase ‘hembra misteriosa’.

El umbral de la ‘hembra misteriosa’
es la raíz del Cielo y de la Tierra.

Infinitamente sutil, parece perpetua.
Se usa sin que se consuma.

*

The Tao, origin and order of nature, is here compared with a woman. And the woman, with a misterious valley, possesing an inmortal spirit. 

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 Xue Yanqun – Rights reserved

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The valley is the hollow. The emptiness that contains. That contains and gives. The vacuum, whose efficency never stops, the vacuum that emanates. The valley is like the female, that in her essence and in her physical and sexual conformation is a hollow and generous receiver of unending capacity and also a hollow that generates life. Very appropriate appears, then, the comparison of the woman with the valley, the vacuum, the Tao as spring of life and spirit in which beeings have their origin.  

The female is also unquenchable, as the virtuos efficiency of the Tao, the order that untangles everything and makes everything circulate in never ending development.  In its receptive capacity and also in its procreative function. That´s why the Book of the Way and the Virtue makes us think in a woman  to imagine the Tao, the origin, the order, the way. 

Misterious. Unfathomable. Abyssal. So is the woman. It is clear, then: when this chapter refers to the ‘mysterious’ or ‘mystic’ female, it tries to makes us think in the spontaneous efficiency of the Tao, for man unpredictable, imposible to understand in all its ineffable, inscrutable and obscure wisdom.

                                        Xue Yanqun – Rights reserved

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The image of the woman is then associated with the threshold of a door. According to Hélène-Maria Suárez Girard, who cites the french sinologist F. Jullien, the verses refer to a twofolded door, which remits to the idea, so familiar to chinese phylosophy, of the essencial polarity of every situation, and with the spontaneous and mysterious alternance of life, whose circumstances cease not to open and to close like the folds of a door.  A door by which reality constantly passes and renews itself in accordance to a process that only the wise man can discern. 

It is, indeed, a very beautiful idea, this that compares the Tao, the root and the course of Heaven and of Earth, origin and end of Nature and of all beeings, with a woman.

Xue Yanqun – Rights reserved

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It flows continuously, barely perceptible
Utilize it; it is never exhausted.

In its stillness, in its serenity, its virtue its continually revealed, without interruption. Its efficiency never stops.
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English version: by Derek Lin, www.Taoism.net, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006. Spanish version: Lao zi, “El libro del curso y de la virtud”, traducción de Anne-Hélène Suárez Girard, 2011, Siruela. Images of the paintings by Xue Yankun were loaded from the blog Cuaderno de Retazos.

© 2014
Lino Althaner