Track: Mystical Spirituality as a Link between World Religions
Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching: The Conscious Feminine Path to Peace from Ancient China
The oldest copies known of the Tao Te Ching was set down in Chinese small seal style before 206 B.C. on silk and bamboo stripes in Central China during the Chou Dynasty. Transmitted in oral tradition for centuries, the poems were either relayed by or attributed to a well-known sage of 6th Century B.C. called Lao-Tzu (meaning Old Master), an honorific practice not uncommon in ancient times.
Some scholars, including myself, think the simplicity of and Chinese characters used in the text date the poems to as early as the 11th Century B.C. a time when shamanism, feminine mysteries, and indigenous esotericism embedded in the natural world were commonplace in ancient China. My own translation of the 81 poems of Tao Te Ching emphasize the feminine mysteries and esoteric elements of the poems in contrast to the theistic and scholarly translations readily available in English. I offer my translation of Poem 6 as an example:
Tao Te Ching—6
The immortal void
Is called the dark womb, the dark womb’s gate
Creation takes root
An unbroken gossamer
That prevails without effort
Rosemarie Anderson (安 素 貞) © 2017
Translating the poems of the Tao Te Ching has been a slow and illuminating process of thinking through what the feminine mysteries and esoteric elements of this classic text portray and their relevance to us in the 21th Century, a time when local and worldwide conflict and environmental challenges prevail. In this presentation, using my translations as illustrations, I will examine some of its key phrases, such as wu wei (no action), tao ch’ung (Tao as empty), hsü chi (fullness in emptiness), hsüan yu hsüan (dark beyond dark), hsüan t’ung (bright darkness), pû jen (without favorites), and p’u (uncarved wood), and explore how they suggest a conscious feminine approach to peace, our relationships to one another and the natural world, and world-making.
Rosemarie Anderson, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University, USA. Currently, she is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Transpersonal Research Network and the Sacred Science Circle; serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Transpersonal Research,Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Qualitative Psychology, and The Humanistic Psychologist, and teaches transformative approaches to research worldwide. Together with the late William Braud, she has co-authored Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences, the book that established the field of transpersonal research methods in 1998, and Transforming Self and Others Through Research in 2011. With several others, she co-authored Five Ways of Doing Qualitative Research in 2011. She has recently completed a translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao TeChing based on her knowledge of Chinese acquired in the late 1970s. In August 2017, Rosemarie will be formally awarded the Abraham Maslow Heritage Award for her “outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of the human spirit” by Division 32, Society for Humanistic Psychology, of the American Psychological Association.