Daodejing: questions, questions, questions

Chapter Ten of the Daodejing reprises many of the key themes in Chapter One, challenging the reader to achieve oneness by embracing paradoxical polarities through a series of pointed questions.

The language is as challenging the questions, with this section being the most difficult: 天門開闔,能為雌乎?The literal translation is: “Are you capable of playing the role of the female when the gates of heaven open and close?”

I have taken “female” to mean “accepting” and the metaphor of the gates of heaven opening and closing to represent good and bad things happening to you.

「載營魄抱一,能無離乎?專氣致柔,能嬰兒乎?滌除玄覽,能無疵乎?愛國治民,能無為乎?天門開闔,能為雌乎?明白四達,能無知乎?生之蓄之,生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。
Can you nurture your spirit and embrace oneness,
Without departing from them?
Can you concentrate your vital energy and reach a state of softness,
Like a new-born baby?
Can you purify your mind and reflect so deeply,
That it is untainted?
Can you love your country and govern your people,
With effortless action?
Can you play the role of the feminine,
In opening and closing the doors of Heaven?
Can you understand everything instinctively,
Without using your intellect?
Bearing and nurturing;
Bearing without possessing;
Acting without taking credit;
Leading without dominating.
This is called subtle and profound Virtue.

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