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 as it is,
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)
Female and male. Black and White. Impersonal and personal. Today, Lao Tzu continues talking about how yin and yang interact together to create balance and harmony in our Universe. By understanding this, we can understand how to be lived by the Tao and interact as individuals in our world.
He wants us to know the yang, yet keep to the yin. That is how to receive the world in your arms, be a pattern for it, and come to accept the world as it really is. By doing this, the Tao never leaves us, and is strong and luminous inside of us.
Interesting that word, luminous. I said, yesterday, when Lao Tzu was talking about embodying the light, that he wasn’t talking about the illuminating kind. He was talking about light as it relates to heavy. Today, we are looking for enlightenment. The luminous kind. And that happens as we allow yin and yang to complement each other.
It makes us like a little child. A favorite metaphor of Lao Tzu’s. He is talking about a return to to the innocence of a little child. By combining female and male, you get a little child.
There is nothing that little child can’t do. We are talking about potential here. All the potential in the Universe. All bound up in that little child. Lao Tzu is wanting us to return to our primal selves.
So, receive the world in our arms, like we would a little child. Be a pattern for the world. That is like being an example. Like how we would go about training that little child. And, finally, accept the world (that child) the way it is. This is how we go about returning to our primal selves. This is the path of enlightenment.
But let’s break this down just a little more. The world (that child) is formed from the void. Just like utensils are formed from a block of wood. That block of wood is another of Lao Tzu’s favorite metaphors. He has that block of wood representing the void. It is where we find our primal selves. What is that block of wood going to be for us. In its present state, it could be anything, anything at all. But in this case we have used it to form utensils. A block of wood and utensils. Just like female and male. Black and White. Impersonal and personal. Yin and yang. Know the utensils. Know how to use them. Yet, never forget they came from a block of wood. Always keep that before you. That block of wood. That is how we can use all things in this world. Whatever we encounter.