Dao De Jing
Headless on Youtube
Click here for workshops with Richard Lang
Click here for details on the American Gathering


Click here for information on online hangouts
Click here fora free e-course
The Youniverse Explorer is now available
Click here for our online shop
Click here to get the free Headless iPhone app
Click here for downloadable videos of Douglas Harding
Click here for the Latest News
Click here to Donate

Verse Six


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007

Verse Six

from LAO-TZU TE-TAO CHING by Robert G Henricks, 1989

The valley spirit never dies;
We call it the mysterious female.
The gates of the mysterious female€
These we call the roots of Heaven and Earth.
Subtle yet everlasting! It seems to exist.
In being used, it is not exhausted.

Verse Six

from The Way of the Ways by Herrymon Maurer, 1985

The spirit of low places does not die.
Call its mysteriousness feminine.
The gate of this mysteriousness
Is the source of heaven-and-earth.
Unceasingly, unceasingly, it seems to persist.
Use it and it won't wear out.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007

Verse Six introduces the symbols of the spirit of the valley and the mysterious female. The term mysterious female has nothing (or perhaps little) to do with physical gender or s-e-x.* I believe that, in the sense of this verse, we are all both female and male, non-being and being. These are the primary complements of wholeness or complete presence. Why mysterious female? This does sound a little like some modern sexual stereotypes to me. But that's not the meaning. The mysterious female represents the near side of our vision. It is empty capacity, receptiveness. Lao Tzu, like Douglas, directs us to the place that we overlooked for so many years. This empty side is the root or source or ground of heaven-and-earth. It's the gate from which the world emerges. It's the female and creative side of each of us. And it's the same in all of us. It's mysterious because it's unknown. We see it, but we can't divide and categorize it, since it has no parts. [This has nothing to do with the male cliche that the female sex is mysterious.]

The symbol of the valley reminds me of the experiment where we spread our arms 160 degrees to embrace the world. Our arms form a kind of valley that is open and receptive to all that exists. I love this "experiment" because, when I do it, I can both see and feel the love for and acceptance of the world that is my very design. Embrace is a powerful word and gesture. Embracing the world becomes more than an experiment. It becomes the way of life, which is an alternate title for the Tao Te Ching. I take the world in my arms as well as in my sight.

I'm also reminded that Douglas called headless seeing a valley experience, as opposed to a peak experience. I am the valley of the world. I don't rise above it or look down upon it. The female and the valley are both powerful symbols.

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2007

Hi jim, et all,

maybe the reference to the mysterious female is only an anology of continuously giving birth or newness out of no-thing.

maybe the spirit of the valley is what we are seeing out of, or the ground of being, for everything that comes to pass.

both are inexhaustible. beyond accepting/rejecting, it's what IS, the view in/view out.

other than that, i've nothing to add, at the moment.

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2007

Hi Janet,

Yes, I like the idea of the mysterious female referring to the constant and continuous birthing of all things. What we see in the view out is what has been birthed by the last 15 billion years. We literally see the past in the view out. We see what has come to pass.

Some versions of this verse use the word womb instead of female. It could be considered to represent the potential of pure being or the view in. It appears as emptiness, but it is pregnant with potential. It's the future. It's hidden in the sense that it's not yet manifest, hasn't yet come to pass. The view in is the womb and the future of the world.

Love,
Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2007

hi jim,

i really am intrigued with your response, and enjoyably so. gets me thinking.....if the view in appears as emptiness and is pregnant with potential (the future), and we see the past in the view out (all thats been birthed), then really what the heck does NOW mean? its slippery in a sense. NOW, to me, can only suggest 'awareness'. awareness of consciousness (all that is).

i just don't know. what do you think?

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2007

Hi Janet,

I absolutely agree with you. Now represents awareness. Awareness is Presence, all that is present or now. Awareness is the essence of our life. Past and future are the two complementary sides of now, presence, or awareness. And life is a birthing process. The mysterious female. Seeing is the same. It begins in a void and ends in fullness. It's a visible birthing process too. Wonderful design.

Love,
Jim


From: simon
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

Hi all,
Everything said here I concur with, and just want to add how I appreciate a "feeling of open-handed detachment" or "acceptance" of everything that comes through this verse; just as it does with seeing.

The Christian idea of 'virgin birth' holds this sense for me, too.

After all, the fruit bowl is not influenced by the fruit it contains, and a mirror does not 'chose' what it will, or will not, reflect...

Anyway, love to all
simon


From: Janet
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

jimclatfelter wrote:
Hi Janet,

I absolutely agree with you. Now represents awareness. Awareness is Presence, all that is present or now. Awareness is the essence of our life. Past and future are the two complementary sides of now, presence, or awareness. And life is a birthing process. The mysterious female. Seeing is the same. It begins in a void and ends in fullness. It's a visible birthing process too. Wonderful design.

Love,
Jim

hi jim,

now, is a challenge to capture. like 'fleeting'. i've been just sitting with it, and i keep giggling for some reason...... oh, and i'm perfectly sober, so nothing like that.

love,
janet


From: Janet
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

simon wrote:
Hi all,
Everything said here I concur with, and just want to add how I appreciate a "feeling of open-handed detachment" or "acceptance" of everything that comes through this verse; just as it does with seeing.

The Christian idea of 'virgin birth' holds this sense for me, too.

After all, the fruit bowl is not influenced by the fruit it contains, and a mirror does not 'chose' what it will, or will not, reflect...

Anyway, love to all
simon

hi simon,

its interesting how ideas that religions have can eventually string together with some understanding or so.

love,
janet


From: Janet
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

Janet wrote:

hi jim,

now, is a challenge to capture. like 'fleeting'. i've been just sitting with it, and i keep giggling for some reason...... oh, and i'm perfectly sober, so nothing like that.

love,
janet

hi jim,

maybe some more clarity to my experience: the process happening, that i'm aware of or present for, is 'fleeting'. presence is always now. its always 'just this', now. i can't see 'now' in the realm of time though. it would miss the mark, so to speak. its a challenge to describe the sense i have. that is another attempt, is all.

love,
janet


From: orebor
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

Hi Jim, Janet, Simon, James... (never mind, just saw Jesus Christ Superstar again...)

Quote:
The valley spirit never dies...

Quote:
The spirit of low places does not die...

The reference to a spirit of valley or low places, taken literally, reminds me of the "bottom line" experiment. I'm not sure if this verse is refering to exactly the same thing, but it fits in nicely all the same.
The fact that It never dies is just what D.E. Harding is trying to make clear in the book I'm reading at the moment: "the little book of life and death". What can and must die (as in end, finish, stop) is only little me.

Jim wrote:
What we see in the view out is what has been birthed by the last 15 billion years. We literally see the past in the view out. We see what has come to pass

While Seeing, there isn't really a view out, for me, as in: look what is out there, outside of me. Also, what is seen "out there" is there now. Doesn't this mean it is also birthed by the now, right now? It all feels very fresh, constantly.

While Seeing, past and future are absent. They seem to be part of the secondary complements world, in some way. And the now never is, like Janet wrote:

Quote:
i can't see 'now' in the realm of time though. it would miss the mark, so to speak

Eckhart Tolle was in Rotterdam last week and gave a talk I went to, and he said something like "the now, your true self, reality, are one and the same."
D.E. Harding says in "The Little Book of Life and Death", talking about the Timeless:

Quote:
... And just as I AM HERE explodes to take in all that's there... so I AM NOW explodes to take in all that's then - past as well as future, the first pages of the story of the world as well as the last.

This also, to me, links the present moment with the huge ME and so, to the realm of primary complements.

Orestes


From: Luc
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

Jim;

I compare your translations to mine :

Quote:
The valley spirit never dies
becomes : the spirit of the depth does't die. In the remarks by the author the spirit of the depth is said to be Tao. I like the link to the Bottom Line of Douglas, the deepest Spot.

Quote:
These we call the roots of Heaven and Earth.

In the Chinese philosophy Tao existed. Out of Tao came Wu Ji, represented by an empty circle. Wu Ji is empty but contains everything as possibility, idea. Out of Wu Ji comes Tai Ji, the secondary complements, represented by Yin and Yang. Yang is connected with Heaven and Yin with Earth, so Tao gives birth to Yin and Yang, the two aspects of the world.
This is a very strange expression. While Wu Ji is without motion, the beginning of motion creates Tai Ji, Yin and Yang.
Can it be compared to Seeing ? When I keep my Eye open, there are no complements, there is simply everything appearing in the Void. But when something draws my attention (whose attention ?) I focus and the complements appear, are born. Does this make sense to you ?

The last line is translated in my version as :' Who leans on this won't know any effort.' This refers back to wu wei : if you trust Tao, everything will happen without effort. If you trust Seeing, nothing can trouble you.

I'm very grateful for this initiative. I've read these verses before, thought I knew what it all was about. And now I discover the deeper meanings, the words I didn't really read, the ideas I overlooked.
Thank you all for your wonderful contributions to this.

Luc


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2007

Orestes, I didn't see the connection to the bottom line experiment. It's so clear now that you mention it, especially when you say low places instead of valley.

Jim


From: headexchange
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2007

Jim,
I also love the experiment where you open your arms and embrace the world. And I like the way you say that this embrace becomes a way of life.

Janet,
Your words are so clear and deep and you!

Orestes - the bottom line, right down here at the bottom of the world!

The Valley Spirit never dies. Isn't this amazing. One's true nature never dies. Always there is something happening in it, now. Here and now.

Richard


From: marc
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2007

This verse seems like a perfect description of what DH calls the view in.

Refering to it as a female reminds me of how I drew upon the Tao's yin/yang symbol when pondering how this world of many could possibly appear from One or No-thing. I looked to nature for a demonstration and I immediately saw a connection between natures process of reproduction and the classic yin/yang symbol.

The female represents the Spacious or Containing aspect of Reality, empty as the vaginal canal, and self containing like an egg.

The male represents the Energetic or the Active aspect of Reality, extending outwards as the penis, and fertile like the sperm.

The inseperablity of the male/female (one) naturally births offspring (the many), which in turn, spontaneously and naturally repeats this pattern infinitely.

When demonstrating my analogy to my wife, i found myself drawing the yin yang symbol with the yin being on the left and the yang being on the right. I drew a little eye in the top half of each side with a slight line below to indicate meeting mouths. Instantly, it looked like a picture of a man and woman making love, birthing new life.

On the right side, (yang) the woman appears top heavy, bosomy with a larger eye because the fat part of the swirl is on top. The female archtype is more round and curvaceous whereas the male archetype appears bottom heavy representing a large and muscular body making the head tiny in contrast.

And just like the top half of my picture looks like a skinny male head kissing a larger round female head. The bottom half looks like the the male (left) is extending outwards and penetrating the female (right).

Well, in at least in my filthy mind it did.

But now Luc has introduced me to a concept that I have never heard of. The very birthing of the empty circle which contains the yin and yang. Just from Lucs brief description, it still sounds like the same process of nature reproducing itself. It seems that no matter on what level we look at this, the design of life is always the same.

Wether its the insperability of Wu Ji & Tai Ji creating the appearance of the yin yang. Or the inseperability of yin and yang creating This. Or the inseperabilty of man and woman creating offspring. It all reminds of the symbol of the spiral. The same pattern expressing itself infinitely.

This is all so amazing. Thanks Jim for making this opportunity available. What fun!


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007

Since the Valley and Low Places could refer to a state of depression, I think this is a good place to include a quote from page 173 of Head Off Stress by Douglas Harding.

"To sum up and conclude this section, let's put the question: what, precisely, are you to do about the depression that's getting you down at this very moment?

"The answer comes in two parts. the first is: See, and see what happens. It is the basic proposition of this book, its working hypothesis for testing all day and every day, that the solution of your problem, no matter what it is, is to see whose it is. Not to understand or feel or think who has the problem, but to actually gaze on that WHO and await what comes of gazing. This seeing and waiting you can always do, whatever your need. The rest is out of your hands.

"Which brings us to the second half of our answer. See, see what happens, and trust it. If, owing to your temperament (say), or your acquired habits of mind, or the specially difficult circumstances you find yourself in, your depression insists on hanging around in spite of its ever-renewed dismissal € why then your business is to submit to it, willingly. The willingness doesn't leave it unchanged. It makes the world of difference. More than depression accepted, more even than depression intended, depression trusted as what's needed at the time, as hiddenly benificient € this isn't depression in the old sense. It is precisely what the sage in the Tao Te Ching is referring to when he says that he alone is depressed. It is milk from the Mother's breast, containing what are for you essential vitamins."

See, and see what happens, and then trust what happens. Isn't that wei wu wei, actionless activity? I find it to be the perfect definition.


From: Janet
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007

what wonderful posts!

thank you orestes, luc, simon, marc, jim and richard. fascinating input. it makes me feel like i've been travelling, yet, haven't moved.

jim -glad you brought up depression. in my experience, its like compression, a denser feeling. it includes physical, emotional, and spiritual and whatever other 'al' there is. an analogy may be an imploding star. a thought appears, like, 'here we go again'. alone in this, yet the whole world comes along for the ride. then there is nowhere, but out, again. like, an exploding star. the experience is like expansion. the world is lighter, brighter, and capacity is like really really bigger (if possible). i mean, the show must go on!

allowing for it, is the best response, imo. the difficulty is, if you've never seen it and been back, it feels scary to be experiencing it. but, once you've gone all the way to the very deepest depth, it just lightens one's feeling about it. if there is any glimpse of a compressing feeling thereafter, its just like, 'okay, wonder what i'm going to learn this time'.

well, i don't know if that makes any sense to you. it is not necessary to experience it, but, just sharing that its perfectly okay to experience it.

love,
janet


From: orebor
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007

Janet wrote:
well, i don't know if that makes any sense to you

Yes, it does. It is immensly liberating to start trusting scary things, scary sensations like depression, fear etc. instead of struggling to keep them at arms length or ignore them.

Janet wrote:
what wonderful posts! thank you

Why, thank you too . I agree. I like that it is insight-oriented, experience based, instead of intellectual play.

Orestes


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007

Hi Luc,

Quote:
In the Chinese philosophy Tao existed. Out of Tao came Wu Ji, represented by an empty circle. Wu Ji is empty but contains everything as possibility, idea. Out of Wu Ji comes Tai Ji, the secondary complements, represented by Yin and Yang. Yang is connected with Heaven and Yin with Earth, so Tao gives birth to Yin and Yang, the two aspects of the world.

This is the subject of Verse Forty Two. It's the only verse where Lao Tzu mentions yin and yang. I believe that what he says there fits perfectly with the design of seeing and life itself. To me yin and yang are names for the primary complements of the Tao. I wrote a verse about it a few years back.

Look in and see the yin.
Look out and see the yang.
Look in and out and see the Tao.
And now you see the whole shebang.

We normally aren't aware of the yin side. It's the empty, receptive, inner side, the place where we have no face. Lao Tzu and Douglas point us back to the yin side, Douglas with experiments, Lao Tzu with these wonderful symbols from nature. Seeing adds the near side of presence back into our conscious awareness. I agree with you that it takes some focus at first for this to happen. I become aware of the near side, my facelessness, but then it effortlessly becomes part of the view, completes the view and defines it.

Here's the way I see it. Seeing (and trusting) both sides (or aspects) makes us whole, the whole Tao, the whole shebang. The Tao is a single presence (wu ji). It's not really divided between yin and yang (tai ji). There's no boundary between the two. They merge with each other as tea with hot water.

Here's a haiku based on Verse Forty Two:

Just what is the Tao?
It is yin on my shoulders
And yang in my arms.

These are Lao Tzu's words. Yin is the emptiness on my shoulders, so to speak, and yang is the world I embrace in my arms. This is the Tao. And this is the experiment where I spread my arms to embrace the world. This experiment instantly makes me whole and brings me home.

I didn't really mean to jump so far ahead, but I wanted to respond to your post about those symbols from Chinese philosophy. They fit in with headless seeing so perfectly. And it seems to me that both Verse Six and Verse Forty Two point to the open arms experiment.

Jim

PS, I want to add my thanks to all of you for making this such a wonderful discussion.


From: headexchange
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007

Janet,
I appreciate your contribution about the feelings of depression etc. and your experience of what happens if you don't interfere, but observe them from the nothingness - how they change, how they lead back into the world that is whole, how there is something to learn from them. Fits in perfectly with Orestes' experience and Jim's quotation from Douglas.

In my experience, feelings are not separate from the rest of what is happening in the void.

It is morning here in London. I'm looking out into my garden. The tops of the trees are orange - the sun is touching them. How can I separate the leaves from the sun's rays? I feel a subtle joy. How can I separate this joy from the morning, from the sunny leaves? There's nothing here to contain them in, in which to keep them separate.

Colin Oliver wrote a haiku years ago that went something like this -

My joy goes stamping
up the road
in the little boy's coat.

I think it was about his young son.

Richard


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007

luc, mark, and jim,

thanks for explaining wu ji, tai ji, and yin and yang, etc. i don't know these words but, after descriptions/explanations, i understand their meaning. i can't yet use the terms without notes or so. i'm way behind in that respect.

it may take awhile for me in that regard. i just tend to express my experience or my thoughts. it usually comes to my attention that there are words for that already.

orestes and richard,

yes to it all, regarding depression. it seems scary and terribly sad to go through but, it has a way of revealing newness and beauty out of this. lovely really!

i notice some people are unable to accept another experiencing depression. you may hear, 'snap out of it', 'just be happy', etc.
it really isn't necessary. just be (being space for it all to happen in),
and let them be. it turns and changes in its own time and pace. in the mean time, just keep lovin' them, however they may appear.

thank you all.

love,
janet


From: orebor
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007

Janet wrote:
...i'm way behind in that respect
i just tend to express my experience or my thoughts...

Yes, please. I'm enjoying that.

Quote:
... it usually comes to my attention that there are words for that already.

Maybe we should turn around... then you are in front

Orestes


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007

Quote:
Maybe we should turn around... then you are in front
Orestes

orestes,

that's funny. it cracked me up!

very allowing for another, imo. bless your heart!

love,
janet


From: Jerry
Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007

I€ve been in bed for the past few days, suffering from a bout of flu. I opened the computor and it was great reading all your interesting posts. I had been thinking about this verse while floating through feverish states, alternately sweating and shivering. What has made an impression on me is Lao Tzu€s view on the importance of the body, how central and fundamental it is in his teachings.

Verse 6 continues a theme that has already been presented in the first verse, that of the €mysterious mother€. As many of you noted, this female yin principle is associated with birth, fertility, procreation, generation, fecundity, the earth, the valley, darkness, wetness and so on. In the first verse we are told that this principle can be used to identify the source of all creation, the first cause of the named phenomena of the world. Here the idea is developed, the female principle, the €spirit of the valley€ revealing the root of heaven and earth. Which is quite remarkable when one one considers the implications.

Compared to many other spritual philosophies, the Tao Te Ching does not deny or reject the body; it is closer to modern science in that biological principles are seen to govern life processes, providing a fundamental key to how we interpret existence. The yin principle, although mysterious, is not occult. Lao Tzu is saying that creative energy is natural, never-ending and can be tapped into and used effortlessly, once we are aware of it, and open to it. And of course, s-e-x is a major expression of this energy.

Janet, your thoughts about depression were specially insightful. Similar thoughts were going through my mind as I lay in my dream-like fever: we learn as much from our emotions and bodily processes as we do from our rational intellect. (Hope I€m not misinterpreting your comments?)

Jerry


From: Janet
Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007

Jerry wrote:
Compared to many other spritual philosophies, the Tao Te Ching does not deny or reject the body;

we learn as much from our emotions and bodily processes as we do from our rational intellect.

Jerry

hi jerry,

well put! why deny anything? just observe/witness thoughts, emotions, and bodily processes. its already being done anyway. awareness is just recognising them for what they are and that is processes - processing, changing, -always making whole. maybe it can be related to the function of homeostasis in the physical sense. maybe just its function in a broader sense.

i like how richard put it in his previous post. ".....feelings are not separate from the rest of what is happening in the void". there is not one thing that can be separated from the rest of what is happening in the void. its inclusive, the whole of what is.

its a beautiful thing, really.

hope you are feeling better now, jerry.

love,
janet


Headless on Youtube
Click here for workshops with Richard Lang
Click here for details on the American Gathering


Click here for information on online hangouts
Click here fora free e-course
The Youniverse Explorer is now available
Click here for our online shop
Click here to get the free Headless iPhone app
Click here for downloadable videos of Douglas Harding
Click here for the Latest News
Click here to Donate