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Thread: The Great One gives birth to the Waters

  1. #1
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    The Great One gives birth to the Waters

    A very interesting piece from the Dao De Jing. This is taken from the translation with commentary by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall, the Philosophical Translation.

    In 1993 Guodian archaeological find, 71 strips of Daodejing text were found in three distinct bundles that have been called 'Laozi A, B, and C'. The document that has been titled 'The Great One gives birth to the Waters' from its opening phrase comprises 14 of these strips.
    And the text itself, from the Appendix of Ames and Hall's translation:

    In the Great One giving birth to the waters, the waters collaterally assist the Great One, thereby producing the heavens. The heavens collaterally assist the Great One, thereby producing the earth. The heavens and earth again assist each other, thereby producing the spiritual and numinous. The spiritual and numinous again assist each other, thereby producing yin and yang qi. Yin and yang qi again assist each other, thereby producing the four seasons. The four seasons again assist each other, thereby producing the hot and the cold. The hot and the cold again assist each other, thereby producing the moist and the dry. And the moist and the dry again assist each other, culminating in producing the yearly cycle.

    Thus, it is the moist and the dry that give birth to the yearly cycle; it is the hot and the cold that give birth to the moist and the dry; it is the four seasons that give birth to the hot and the cold; it is the yin and yang qi that give birth to the four seasons; it is the heavens and the earth that give birth to the spiritual and the numinous; it is the Great One that gives birth to the heavens and the earth.

    Thus it is that the Great One is hidden away in the waters, and travels with the seasons. It completes a cycle only to begin again, making itself the mother of everything that happens. It is alternatively deficient then full, making itself the guiding pattern of everything that happens. This is not something the heavens can diminish, nor something that the earth can alter, nor something the yin and yang qi can bring to closure. Exemplary persons know this as what is called. . .

    The way of tian is to prize softness. it pares away at what has culminated in order to benefit new growth. It attacks the strong, and punishes the hard; it aids the soft and benefits the weak.

    The dirt beneath our feet we call the earth, and the qi above our heads we call the heavens. As for dao, it is just another style name for the same things. But what, may I ask, is its proper name? Those who would accord with dao in their undertakings must do so in the name of dao. It is thus that they are successful at what they do and are personally long-lived. Even the sages who accord with dao in their undertakings do so in its name. It is thus that they are successful in their accomplishments and personally go unharmed. The different names for the heavens and the earth -- both their original name and their style name -- are also well-established. It is just that in trying to venture beyond these categories, we do not think that such names are fitting.

    The heavens are wanting in the northwest, but the earth beneath compensates for this deficiency by its height. The earth is wanting in the southeast, but the heavens above compensate for this deficiency by their height. Any deficiency above is made up for in what is below, and any deficiency below is made up for in what is above.
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    In the Great One giving birth to the waters, the waters collaterally assist the Great One, thereby producing the heavens. The heavens collaterally assist the Great One, thereby producing the earth. The heavens and earth again assist each other, thereby producing the spiritual and numinous. The spiritual and numinous again assist each other, thereby producing yin and yang qi. Yin and yang qi again assist each other, thereby producing the four seasons. The four seasons again assist each other, thereby producing the hot and the cold. The hot and the cold again assist each other, thereby producing the moist and the dry. And the moist and the dry again assist each other, culminating in producing the yearly cycle.

    Thus, it is the moist and the dry that give birth to the yearly cycle; it is the hot and the cold that give birth to the moist and the dry; it is the four seasons that give birth to the hot and the cold; it is the yin and yang qi that give birth to the four seasons; it is the heavens and the earth that give birth to the spiritual and the numinous; it is the Great One that gives birth to the heavens and the earth.

    Thus it is that the Great One is hidden away in the waters, and travels with the seasons. It completes a cycle only to begin again, making itself the mother of everything that happens. It is alternatively deficient then full, making itself the guiding pattern of everything that happens. This is not something the heavens can diminish, nor something that the earth can alter, nor something the yin and yang qi can bring to closure. Exemplary persons know this as what is called. . .

    The way of tian is to prize softness. it pares away at what has culminated in order to benefit new growth. It attacks the strong, and punishes the hard; it aids the soft and benefits the weak.

    The dirt beneath our feet we call the earth, and the qi above our heads we call the heavens. As for dao, it is just another style name for the same things. But what, may I ask, is its proper name? Those who would accord with dao in their undertakings must do so in the name of dao. It is thus that they are successful at what they do and are personally long-lived. Even the sages who accord with dao in their undertakings do so in its name. It is thus that they are successful in their accomplishments and personally go unharmed. The different names for the heavens and the earth -- both their original name and their style name -- are also well-established. It is just that in trying to venture beyond these categories, we do not think that such names are fitting.

    The heavens are wanting in the northwest, but the earth beneath compensates for this deficiency by its height. The earth is wanting in the southeast, but the heavens above compensate for this deficiency by their height. Any deficiency above is made up for in what is below, and any deficiency below is made up for in what is above.
    This is a powerful passage, Kiorionis! The whole "Tao Te Ching" is full of incredible wisdom and Alchemical Truth. I interpret it as:

    In the beginning was our One Thing, Water, which produces Heaven and Earth.
    Earth and Heaven together produce our Spirit, which fully produces Yin and Yang.
    Yin and Yang together produce cycles, a Philosophical year, or our perfect Circulation.
    Our Circulation produces New Growth.
    As Above, so Below.

  3. #3
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    Yeah it's a good one

    The most unique part about it, I find, is the idea of the substance below "collaborating" with the substance above it to continue the "chain" (especially interesting is juxtaposing this text with the golden chain of homer). For example, the Great One in collaboration with its creation -- the Waters -- in order to produce the heavens. The heavens (composed of Great One + Waters) then collaborate with the Great One to produce the earth.

    Therefore the earth, according to this text, is 3 parts Great One, 2 part Waters, 1 part heavens.

    My math could be off too.
    Last edited by Kiorionis; 08-22-2017 at 08:45 PM. Reason: Spelling
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiorionis View Post
    The most unique part about it, I find, is the idea of the substamce below "collaborating" with the substance above it to continue the "chain" (especially interesting is juxtaposing this text with the golden chain of homer). For example, the Great One in collaboration with its creation -- the Waters -- in order to produce the heavens. The heavens (composed of Great One + Waters) then collaborate with the Great One to produce the earth.
    Therefore the earth, according to this text, is 3 parts Great One, 2 part Waters, 1 part heavens.
    My math could be off too.
    YES!! Without this relationship, imo, there would be no cycles. What you point out here is the Key to understanding our Circulation!

  5. #5
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    Circulation, yes. But I think also the rotation of the elements as the chain develops further down
    Art is Nature in the flask; Nature is a vial thing.

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