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Lao Tzu for Everyone

Students, Scholars

& Seekers

Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.

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             第 二十

Line 1 知其雄守其雌為天下溪

Line 2 為天下溪恆德不

              

Line 3 恆德不離復歸於嬰兒

Line 4 知其白守其辱為天下浴

Line 5 為天下浴恆德乃足

Line 6 恆 德乃足復歸於樸

   

 

 

Line 7  知其白守其黑為天下式

 

Line 8  為天下式 恆德不貣

Line 9   恆德不貣復歸於无極

Line 10  樸散則為器

Line 11 聖人用則為官長

Line 12  大制无割

 

LESSON 28

Our Feminine

and

Masculine

Energies

 

 

 

      Yin energies and yang energies are key principles of traditional and modern Chinese philosophy and medicine. 陰 yin and 陽 yang energies, are typically analogized as "feminine" and "masculine" energies.

     Referring to them as feminine and masculine creates a special challenge to us in modern-day, a challenge which did not exist in Lao Tzu's time; in referring to them as feminine and masculine we may easily slip into the social or political presumption that they are referring to men and women. They are not.

     Calling  them feminine and masculine is simply a way to distinguish between two universal principles which, as One, depict the right operation of each and every thing in our world, including ourselves, regardless of gender.

  • Consider feminine energy as a kind of wisdom which informs us of the when and the how of our right action.

  • Consider our masculine energy as that which carries through our right action.

     Feminine and masculine energies already coincide exquisitely in the natural world. As just one example, deer seem to have no problem discerning when to act within their environment and then also to follow through. For the natural world, feminine and masculine energies are a kind of inner law to which they spontaneously obey.

     In the humane world too, these two energies require each other. But it is different for us.  We may know well enough what to do (feminine) and still not act (failure of our masculine energy).  And, we can also act (masculine) without first knowing what to do (failure of our feminine energy.)

 

    When our action (masculine) is not accompanied by the wisdom of when and how to act (feminine), it is rash and even reckless behavior. Such action we sometimes call brutish and even animal-like.

     On the other hand, when a person does know when and how to act (feminine) but does not carry through (masculine) we call that person a pushover, a doormat, and even a coward.

    Is one energy superior to the other? Not at all. Each has its right place, just as the dark print on this page and the white background need each other in order for these words to appear.

     Lao Tzu's point in so many lesson is that the wisdom that we derive through our feminine energy is not our own. Wisdom comes to us. We receive it. That is why feminine energy is often referred to as "receptive" energy. 

     The wisdom of feminine energy is available to us all. But it is often overlooked amid the parade of our busy daily events. But it is there, and requires a quiet mind to discern even within the bustle.  When we are receptive, it seems to us as if an insight "just happens." It seems to us as a kind of inner-knowledge. It is the task of the masculine part to then carry this wisdom into action.

      Again,  feminine and masculine energies are to function with careful regard to the other. That is the message of the well-known yin and yang symbol.  ​Note how, within the symbol, each energy is represented as distinct, and yet each energy at the same time dwells within the other.

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Tao

the Way

Click on each line number

 for Chinese-English interlinear

& commentary

1.

Know the masculine

while you hold

to the feminine,

and be a

valley to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

When you are

a valley to the world

the constant power

of the Way

does not leave you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

​​​​​​​​​​​3.

When the constant power

of the Way

does not leave you,

you return to the

condition of an infant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.

Know the pure

while you hold

to the sullied

and be a

valley to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.

When you are

a valley to the world,

the timeless power

of the Way

is fulfilled.

 

 

 

6.

When the timeless

power of the Way

is fulfilled,

you return to

the condition of an

uncarved block.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.

Know the white

while you hold

to the black,

and be a

model for the world.

 

 

8.

When you are a

model to the world

the timeless power

of the Way

does not go astray.

 

 

 

 

9.

When the timeless

power of the Way

does not go astray,

you return to

the condition which

has no limit.

 

 

 

 

 

10.

When the

uncarved block

is apportioned,

it becomes vessels.

 

 

 

11.

When the sage

is employed,

he or she is

head of all officials.

 

 

12.

Indeed,

great cutting

is done

without dividing.

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​. . . . . . .

 

 

 

​​

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