Saturdao 10

Dao De Jing, verse 6
16 translations

1. James Legge (1891):
The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;
The female mystery thus do we name.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
Long and unbroken does its power remain,
Used gently, and without the touch of pain.
2. Archie Bahm (1958):
The tendency toward opposition is ever-present.
Opposition is the source of all growth.
And the principle of opposition is the source of all opposites.
The principle of opposition is inherent in Nature, so oppositeness will continue forever, no matter how many opposites may come and go.
3. Frank MacHoven (1962):
The concept of Yin is ever present. It is the Mystic Female from whom the heavens and the earth originate.
Constantly, continuously, enduring always.
Use her!
4. D.C. Lau
The spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.
5. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English (1972):
The valley spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil barely seen.
Use it; it will never fail.
6. Stan Rosenthal (1984):
Like the sheltered, fertile valley, the meditative mind is still, yet retains its energy.
Since both energy and stillness, of themselves, do not have form,
it is not through the senses that they may be found,
nor understood by intellect alone, although, in nature, both abound.
In the meditative state, the mind ceases to differentiate between existences,
and that which may or may not be.
It leaves them well alone, for they exist,
not differentiated, but as one,
within the meditative mind.
7. Jacob Trapp (1987):
“The Mother”
The deathless valley
Of the Abyss is yin,
The Mystic Mother of all.
At the door of yin,
The Mystic Female,
Is the threshold of earth and heaven.
This is the ever-renewing
Source upon which men may draw:
The more they take, the more is given.
8. Stephen Mitchell (1988):
The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.
9. Victor Mair (1990):
The valley spirit never dies –
it is called “the mysterious female”;
The gate of the mysterious female
is called “the root of heaven and earth.”
Gossamer it is, seemingly insubstantial,
yet never consumed through use.
10. Michael LaFargue (1992):
“The Valley Spirit is undying.”
This is mysterious Femininity.
The Abode of mysterious Femininity:
This is the Root of Heaven and Earth.
It seems to endure on and on.
One who uses It never wears out.
11. Peter Merel (1995):
Experience is a riverbed,
Its source hidden, forever flowing:
Its entrance, the root of the world,
The Way moves within it:
Draw upon it; it will not run dry.
12. Ursula LeGuin (1997):
“What is complete”
The valley spirit never dies.
Call it the mystery, the woman.
The mystery,
the Door of the Woman
is the root
of earth and heaven.
Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy.
13. Ron Hogan (2002):
Tao is an eternal mystery,
and everything starts with Tao.
Everybody has Tao in them.
They just have to use it.
14. Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall (2003):
The life-force of the valley never dies –
This is called the dark female.
The gateway of the dark female –
This is called the root of the world.
Wispy and delicate, it only seems to be there,
Yet its productivity is bottomless.
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura (2004):
The Tao, the Spirit of the Valley, is immortal.
It is called the Primordial Female.
The Gate of the Primordial Female,
Through its opening and closing
Performs the kosmic intercourse,
And is called the origin of Heaven and Earth,
Eternally existing,
Forever tireless.
16. Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo (2007)
The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is called the Mysterious Female.
The entrance to the Mysterious Female
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth,
Endless flow
Of inexhaustible energy.
You have Dao within you, Valley Spirit, whether you are male or female. This Dao is here described by analogy to the female: an emptiness that births, that nurtures and creates. Dao is immortal, deathless -- it can't be exhausted because it is always empty. It's also the same in everyone. You are the distinctive, unique person you are through the uses to which you put the Dao that is common to all beings.

The Valley Spirit is inexhaustible, infinitely useful and productive. How do you use Valley Spirit?

What do you make of Bahm's "opposition" as the name for the fecund vacuum?

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See: Saturdao Index