Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 6 Commentary

This is part of a series examining the Tao Te Ching from an LDS, Christ-centered perspective. 

Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching is short and sweet, and introduces the feminine/yin aspect of the yin-yang. It reads as follows:
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
The TTC focuses heavily on yin energy--what it is, its importance, the need to access it.
Valley. Image here.

The feminine energy is called the "valley spirit" because where yang is the mountain, yin is the valley. It is a way of illuminating how this energy differentiates itself from masculine yang energy.

In earlier chapters of the TTC we see that yang energy is about manifestation--doing--while yin energy is about essence--being. This chapter further builds on that idea: yin energy does move, continuously flowing, but is "barely perceptible." However, it is "never exhausted." Indeed, it is the "root of Heaven and Earth," in its way, the beginning of all creation--the Mother of creation.

Connection to Gender in Christianity

Gender roles in Christianity are, well, complicated--at least in the modern age. In the modern age, our culture has made them complicated. Because the gender roles as outlined in the Bible can offend our egalitarian sensibilities.

God's house is a house of order--and order means that heirarchy--and heirarchy means that someone has to lead and someone has to follow. The feminine role is that of follower, that of helpmeet. Where man is the presider, woman is the cooperator. Obviously this concept is pretty revolting to feminist sensibilities of "equality" in every sphere. I personally have had a lot of qualms with the overall concept, before coming to peace with it. I am coming to understand that the only way a house of order can work, is with order. And order means that a leader needs followers. Which means someone has to be the follower, the cooperator.

For the past, oh, two thousand years, many leaders in Christianity have given women a bad name. There's been a lot of ill speaking about women. It can make you sad or even sick to read or even just consider their views, and that's not cool. To the extent that the Bible addresses gender differences, it just makes it clear that women are to be in the subordinate position to men. [NOTE: Voluntary subordination or submission is NOT weakness: it is strength.] There are plenty of scriptures about wifely submission, about keeping quiet and so forth. But there are not many scriptures about the strength of women or the power of femininity.

To me, the Tao Te Ching fills this gap. I believe this is why God basically beat it over my head that I should read it and study it. The text explores the power of the feminine, all while explaining that it is not better than the masculine, but that the two are complementary.

Image here.
The TTC illuminates a number of feminine, yin qualities, and explains how they are necessary and important. Here, we learn that the feminine essence is always flowing, ever so subtly--and it is never exhausted. When we as women access our feminine energy, we have a limitless source of strength. When we allow that aspect of ourselves to come to the forefront of ourselves, and when we make that part of us the part we use to interact with our loved ones, particularly the husband, we make that limitless strength available to them. This strength relaxes, rejuvenates, and empowers, but in a subtle way. It is what sleep is to the body. Calming, rebuilding, and important--so important life can't exist without it. The human body needs sleep even more than it needs water--both yin things.

Feminine strength exists; it is beautiful and necessary and continuously flowing and subtle and never exhausted. It is up to us as women to figure out how to access this energy and make it the energy we draw from, so we do not exist in the constant state of fatigue that tends to come along with life in our modern world.


Feminine energy is undying, constant, and a source of strength. It is up to us to learn how to use and access this energy.

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