Know the male,
yet keep to the female;
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you will be like a little child.
Know the white,
yet keep to the black;
be a pattern for the world.
If you are a pattern for the world,
the Tao will be strong inside you
and there will be nothing you can’t do.
Know the personal,
yet keep to the impersonal;
accept the world as it is.
If you accept the world,
the Tao will be luminous inside you
and you will return to your primal self.
The world is formed from the void,
like utensils from a block of wood.
The Master knows the utensils,
yet keeps to the block;
thus she can use all things.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 28, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
How We Relate to Our World
Speaking as one individual, who seeks to be a master in my relationship with the world around me, I will say that the importance of the message of the last few days can not be over-emphasized. How we relate to our own world, the people in our own world, is second only to how we relate to the Tao, and to our true selves. It is the natural response to our discovering the Tao inside our true selves.
In today’s chapter Lao Tzu explains how the marriage of yin and yang always brings us back, returning us to our origin. Know the male, yet keep to the female; know the bright, yet keep to the dark; know the personal, yet keep to the impersonal; these are simply different ways of saying know the yang, yet keep to what is yin.
We do need to be well acquainted with what is yang. because it is a vital principle in the nature of things, and in our own nature. Yang, our masculine or positive side, is active, hot. But where would we be without the balancing vital principle of yin? Yin, our feminine or negative side, is passive, cold. The Master understands how they interact, how dependent on each other they truly are. The Master is both yang, spontaneous, and yin, intuitive, in how they relate to our world.
They receive the world, as if, in their arms. And, the Tao never leaves them, as though they were a little child. They are a pattern, an example for the whole world. See how strong the Tao is in them? There is nothing they can’t do. And, it is because they accept the world, as it is, that the Tao is luminous inside them, as they return to their primal self.
Returning to our primal self, reminds us that the world is formed out of a great void, a great emptiness. Just like utensils are formed from a block of wood. Those utensils are what we can make of that block of wood. But, they are only one thing we can make from that block of wood. That is why the Master keeps coming back to that uncarved block. What will it become? What will I become? I am ready to be used by the Tao. All things are possible. All things can be used.