Chapter 6 – The Divine Feminine

The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is named the Mysterious Female.
The gate of the Mysterious Female
Is the root of heaven and earth.
It is continuous and seems to be always existing.
Use it and you will never wear it out.

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words; and our friends the ancient Taoists have drawn a good one for this Tao Te Ching Tuesday’s consideration of Chapter 6.  It looks something like this: Primal Integration of Yin and Yang

This drawing is known as the Diagram of the Primal Integration of Yin and Yang, and has special meaning for those who practice what is called “internal alchemy” (which is not going to be discussed in this essay).  My knowledge of Chinese leaves much to be desired, but it is my understanding (and it is discussed here) that the characters in the center may be translated as “Mysterious Feminine.”  The symbol at the top means “Valley” and the one at the bottom means “Spirit.”

The words around the perimeter of the circle mean something like:  When Yang energy is strong and active, yet harmonious and clear, there is Yin within Yang.  The Yin nurtures the yang and your destiny is in accord with your nature.  When the Yin energy is docile and restrained, yet can also restrain, there is Yang within Yin.  The Yang balances the Yin and your nature is in accord with your destiny.  When that occurs, nature is destiny.

Though I could say that the diagram speaks for itself, it is still a bit abstract; so I would like to add a few words of my own.

This chapter is clearly written about Yin.  The feminine is Yin; the valley is Yin; the gate is Yin.  Yin is receptive and yielding.  It is dark and passive.  Yet, it is from the Yin that all things are given birth.  The diagram shows the eight trigrams of the I Ching, which are all combinations of Yin and Yang, moving out from the dark, quiet, passive center and filling the whole circle, which represents the entire physical universe.

In the last line of Chapter 5, Lao Tzu told us that it is better to stay centered.  Here we see that when we reach the center, we reach the source of the 10,000 things.  Perhaps we should try to go there.  Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, clear your thoughts.

That’s the hard part – clearing your thoughts.  Something that might help is to label the thought that won’t be cleared.  Acknowledge it by saying, “Yes, that is a thought.”  Then tell yourself, “I wonder where my next thought is going to appear.”  Then wait for that thought.  In the space between the thought you have acknowledged and the one that is coming, you just might notice the Mysterious Female.


  1. Ah, Louis. This is wonderful. I LOVE that image! Where did you get it? I would love to get permission from the owner to use it and do a post about it myself – pointing to your post again, of course! Great stuff.

  2. Amy – First let me express my admiration for your respect for the rights of those who create images. I practiced law for nearly 20 years and was involved in several matters concerning intellectual property rights because some folks don’t share your sense of respect.

    In this case, the creator of the image is both unknown and has been deceased for many centuries. I used it because I did not doubt its antiquity or its place in the public domain.

    The diagram is sort of a specialized version of the commonly seen drawing of the tai chi or yin-yang symbol surrounded by the eight I Ching trigrams. It seems to have come to us from the Chinese tradition of naiden, or internal alchemy. You might be interested in a very brief discussion found at

    I first learned of this particular diagram some 25 years ago by looking at a book called I-Ching Mandalas by Thomas Cleary, one of the most active modern translators of Taoist and Buddhist literature (his translation of the Tao Te Ching is available at The book was published by Shambhala publishing, but now seems to be our of print – though it is available through

    The drawing from Cleary’s book was included in a paper by a gentleman named James Sauer, to which I included a link in my post (

    Although Cleary’s book is certainly subject to copyright restrictions, the image itself is ancient.

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  6. the mysterious female? the gate of heaven and earth ? is hui yin , the root lock , the perineum etc. use it ? meaning squeeze it , gently , all day , whatever you do. your body posture will change , your mind will change. when you will realise what it does. you will never quit it.

    • Thank you for this comment. The opening and closing of the hui yin or root chakra is certainly an important part of Taoist forms of meditation, as well as other disciplines like Reiki. That fits well with what is said in this chapter. I welcome other comments you may have concerning anything I may have said about Tao. You seem to be writing from experience.

  7. Interestingly the drawing looks also like the dharmachakra, for sure it was intended? I wonder also about the connection of tao and dharma…

    • Stefan, I think you are correct. The diagram is certainly based on the dharmachakra. When Buddhism came into China from “the West” (India), Chinese philosophical systems like Taoism and Confucianism were well established. There were many thinkers who recognized that the integration of Buddhist and Chinese thought could aid in understanding the universal concepts underlying the various approaches. The diagram of the primal integration of yin and yang is one way of illustrating that. The dharmachakra is filled with Chinese symbols and Taoist insights.

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