March 28, 2009

DIVISION 10 (第十)

In bringing together your spiritual and bodily souls to embrace the One,
Can you not let go?
Can you focus into such softness you are a newborn again?
Can you polish the Xuán mirror to a clarity beyond stain?
Can you love the people and govern the state without resorting to action?
In opening and closing Heaven's Gate,
Can you play the part of the female?
In understanding all within the Four Reaches – Can you do it without using knowledge?
Give birth and nurture.
To give birth without possessing and foster without dominating,
This is called Xuán Dé.

COMMENTARY by Koeng S. Wan:
Because people are intelligent and clever (Divisions 3 and 33), they follow some other dào, such as the teachings of Confucius (Division 18), or otherwise become separated from the Dào (Divisions 12, 18, 26, 33, 55). In order for people to follow the Dào they must commit their minds and souls to “embrace the One (一)” – the imperceptible aspect of the Dào that can be approached (Division 14) and attained (Division 39). People are admonished to keep their spirits unadulterated and tranquil like a newborn's, and practice Xuán Dé, which is to raise children and let them develop without controlling or dominating them. They are also admonished to perceive their own Xuán (Division 2) so clearly they understand themselves well; govern other people like a shèng rén (sage) (Division 3); and come to know the world without knowledge (Division 47).

In following the One so close as to "embrace" it, people learn to acquire, or rather, reacquire, the kind of cháng (constant ) everyone displays when they are just born (Divisions 28 and 55) but then lose as they develop;

Qì and the Gates of Heaven. Ancient Chinese commonly believed that a living person normally has ten souls – three hún (魂) and seven (魄)[1]. When a person dies the ten souls disintegrate – the hún find there way to heaven and permanently become spirits called shén (神), but the lose their existence[2]. While alive, a person receives (氣) as nourishment from Heaven by breathing them in through the nostrils[3], which are the Gates of Heaven[4]. Thus, “playing the part of the female” while “embracing the One” with respect to receiving means that the person is receptive to the Dào of Heaven.

Significantly, one's anatomical Gates of Heaven corresponds to the Xuán Pìn Gate, the feminine valley spirit that serves as the root of Heaven (and Earth) (Division 6).

Cháng dé and becoming newly born. Among the Lǎo Zǐ's approximately five thousand words, (氣) appears only thrice -- once here, and once in divisions 42 and 55. Here, the Lǎo Zǐ says that one can focus in such as way as to become a newborn again. While this is not a total physical transformation, the result and benefit is important in two ways.
The first is that an adult, like a newborn, is totally dependent on its mother, which is the Dào, being mother of all things (Division 25) which is beneficial (Division 52). This relationship is instinctual, i.e., beyond trust, since a newborn has no understanding of trust, which is one aspects of a newborn's cháng, the highest form of (Divisions 28 and 55).

While a person cannot become a newborn again, a person who has embraced the One can attain the like that of newborn's by focusing into “softness”, a state of spiritual purity and tranquility, which is the second transformational results and benefit. The Sù Wèn says, “The orb of the liver is the root of all extremes and the residence of the hún"[5]. (The Sù Wèn (素問) or Basic Questions is one of the two books that compose the Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng (黃帝內經), the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. Like the Lǎo Zǐ, the Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng is composed of 81 divisions within two books, the second being the Líng Shū Jīng (靈樞 經) or variously translated as the Classic of the Divine or Spiritual or Numinous Pivot. The Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng became a Jīng during the Han dynasty, though some scholars believe the Sù Wèn existed at the time the Lǎo Zǐ was being formulated[6]). These extremes are kinds of adulterations accumulated through life as the Sù Wèn explains in the following anecdote[7]:
Oxen and horses when led properly can easily wade through the marsh. When let loose, however, they will sink deeper and deeper and can never get out again by themselves. So they have to die. People are just like this. When first born their original spirit is pure and tranquil, profound and unadulterated. But then people gradually take in shaped objects. Those in due course define the six senses.

The eyes will covet color.
The ears will be obstructed by sound.
The mouth will be addicted to flavors.
The nose will always take in smells.
The mind will be intent on refusing and coveting.
The body will desire to be slimmer or fatter.
From all these ups and downs of life, no one is able to wake up by himself. Thus, the sages with compassionate consideration established the doctrine to each people reform. They made them use inner observation of the self and body in order to purify the mind.
Division 12 addresses the plight of adulterated senses and spirit head on.
The Xuán Mirror. Xuán is the unified mystery of a particular thing in which the thing is perceived two different ways depending on whether the observer is in a state with or without desire (see Division 1). Looking into the Xuán mirror, the observer examines himself with and without desire in order to gain understanding of oneself. Division 33 says:
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To "polish the Xuán mirror to a clarity without stain" is to examine oneself impartially, the approach others should use to understand the observer (Division 7).

[1] "Hun", Encyclopedia Britannica Online . Accessed March 28, 2009.

[2] Mura, Kunio, “Gui”, The Encyclopedia of Taoism, A-Z, Volume 1, edited by Fabrizio Pregadio, pp.458-9.

[3] Kohn, Livia, The Taoism Experience: An Anthology, State University of New York Press, 1993, p.165.

[4] Wile, Douglas, The Art of the Bedchamber: The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics Including Women's Solo Meditation Texts, State University of New York Press, 1992, p.142.

[5] Kohn, Livia, The Taoism Experience: An Anthology, State University of New York Press, 1993, p.166.

[6] "Huangdi Neijing", Wikipedia. Accessed March 28, 2009.

[7] Kohn, Livia, The Taoism Experience: An Anthology, State University of New York Press, 1993, pp.172-173.