Spirit of the Valley
The valley spirit never dies
Call it the mystery, the woman.
The mystery, the Door of the Woman,
is the root of earth and heaven.
Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy.
Tao Te Ching: Chapter 6
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin
There are over thirty translations by various writers in English alone of these beautiful and elusive lines from the Tao Te Ching, all of them offering something different, like a slowly-turning crystal which constantly reflects the light from its many facets. But the light itself which the crystal reflects remains unchanged. The Tao is the light, and the way in which we perceive the Tao is the turning crystal.
Of all beliefs, Tao has been described as the most feminine. If it can be said to have a 'message', then that message urges us simply to let things flow, to offer no resistance. From resistance comes struggle and conflict, both in ourselves and in the world through which we move, because we ourselves project those inner feelings into our outer world. It is described as the Spirit of the Valley, because all things naturally flow to the valley. It is also described as a vessel that can never be emptied and never becomes over-full. No matter how much we drink from it, the vessel is inexhaustible. Greater than this: the more we sustain ourselves from it, the more it gives to us.
The Spirit of the Valley is a young woman, because a young woman's innocence and purity speaks to our own lost innocence, and reminds us that the pain and separation of a lost Eden is itself an illusion, because only in the outer world of forms is Eden ever lost. In the Valley there is nothing to heal, because nothing was ever damaged. In the Valley, all remains whole and unblemished.
But the Spirit is also the Great Mother, wise beyond words, and always ready to advise. We need only make ourselves receptive to her words. As the Tao describes, it is this door of the woman which is 'easy' to open because the more difficult we imagine it is to open, the more difficult we make it to access what in reality costs no effort. And it is the root of earth and of heaven because at the root lies the source of all things: the eternal and eternally-giving Spirit of the Valley.