The spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.
The spirit of the valley is the only thing that’s real. All the various mountains and mole hills of my life come and go. I have good times, followed by bad times, followed again by good times—round and round they go. When each in its turn fades to the past, it flows down into this empty valley; this valley is forever empty, no matter how many experiences drain from the present moment into it. When ever I need an anchor to hold me steady in the winds of contemporary chaos, I contemplate this.
The mysterious female has nothing to do with gender, though I see why of the two, male and female, female represents this eternal quality. Men tend to be bolder and more aggressive, at least on the surface, and like mountains, they represent a young bold state. But, what is bold and young today is meek and old tomorrow—in time all mountains erode away down into the valley. The valley is but the empty space between two mountains, and so it only seems as if it were there. After the mountains wear away, the space is still there.
The mysterious female goes to the heart of: Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there. I know not whose son it is. It images the forefather of God [see ch. 4]. I need all this kind of imagery I can get to help me back off more tangible descriptions; these are just road blocks that obstruct the gateway.
The gateway of the mysterious female, Is called the root of heaven and earth. Thus, just scratching the surface of the mysterious female produces all of existence. Anything tangible lies just at this gateway. When I just perceive without differentiating and judging,—use the light, but give up the discernment [see ch. 52]—I can crack open that gateway and sense the most profound mystery.
Life’s survival instinct always urges me upward and onward—to grow like the mountain, or at least to hold my position. Putting my faith here leaves me all the more insecure. I can’t stop the erosion. Each day I wither away, little by little. I was born to die; death is the mysterious female. As I come to know this, life itself seems an illusion. The less real life seems, the less fearsome its end feels. I’m not my ideas, nor am I my skin, nor bones, nor blood. When I drop it all away, all that is left is nothing—the mysterious female. In letting go, I come closer to the root of heaven and earth. This reminds me of what Jesus said: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it’.
My senses keep clamoring, ‘It’s this’ ‘It’s that’. I’m beginning to see through this instinctual and emotional trickery. The spirit of the valley is ‘Not this’ ‘Not that’.
If I picture existence as a circle, then dimly visible, it seems as if it were there, is that which lies both forward and backward from this immediate now part of the circle. As now moves toward the future, what was now recedes into the dimly visible and the future continues to seem as if it were there. Time is an odd experience; this is known as mysterious sameness. [see ch. 56]. Much of my difficulty stems from differentiating NOW apart from the whole EVER.
When I shine the spot light of desire on the dimly visible nature of reality, I ascend into discontentment.