Monday, February 27, 2012

Line by Line - Verse 61, Lines 4-5

-- the female always overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a sort of) abasement.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The female overcomes the male with stillness,
Lying low in stillness.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The female always overcomes the male with serenity
Using serenity as the lower position

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Victory comes
from lying perfectly still
and waiting for power
to come your way.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
There probably are numerous ways to interpret these lines, but I'm guessing sexuality provided the impetus. In the traditional act of male-to-female copulation -- what has been called the "missionary position" -- the woman takes the position below the male and, in a manner of speaking, invites him in for goodies.

If it turns out I have gotten this all wrong, check out the comments section as the Baroness will set me straight -- ooh, now there's a loaded pun!

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

1 comment:

  1. Sexual dyanmics of yin and yang play a lot of metaphorical roles in Taoist thought (and in some practices). Yin is receptive and yang is generative. Although I am extremely fond of this verse, I don't always see it with sexual innuendo, although it is certainly there. I think it has to do with patience, knowing one's relative strengths and weaknesses and being able to use them to achieve win-win solutions. I've never liked Legge's use of "abasement"; maybe more like humility. It's about knowing when to yield and when to advance. I need to look at the characters. This whole verse can be understood as about deal-making, in interpersonal relationships, and international relations and alliances. There is an esoteric significance, but I'll save that.


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