Metaphysics, Mythology

Water from Guodian Text

Made Water” (太一生水)

This cosmogenical text was found in the bamboo slips of Guodian, the earliest known version of the Daodejing. It’s similar to the opening of ch 42 (“the way made one, one made two, two made three, three made the myriad beings”), although slightly different in that each element goes back and interacts with Taiyi (the great one) assisting in the production of the subsequent elements.

It is unclear if or how they’re related, which text is based on which, but it’s an interesting reading all the same. There’s also hints of ch8 in the comparison of the great one to water, and of chi in the impossibility of giving it a name.

the great one made water
water came back and helped the great one
in this way developing heaven
heaven came back and helped the great one
in this way developing earth
heaven and earth kept helping each other
in this way developing the gods above and below
the gods above and below kept helping each other
in this way developing yin and yang
yin and yang kept helping each other
in this way developing the four seasons
the four seasons kept helping each other
in this way developing wet and dry
wet and dry kept helping each other
they developed the year, and the process ended

therefore, the year
was made by wet and dry
wet and dry
were made by cold and hot
cold and hot
and the four seasons
were made by yin and yang
yin and yang
were made by the gods above and below
the gods above and below
were made by heaven and earth
heaven and earth,
were made by the great one

hence the great one is hidden in water
moves with the seasons
renewing the cycle
mother of the myriad beings
now empty, now full
it guides the myriad beings
this, heaven’t can’t destroy, earth can’t smother
yin and yang can’t produce it
the sage knows it’s referred to as “the way”

below,
there’s dirt
and we call it earth
above,
there’s air
and we call it heaven
likewise, “the way” is its title
but what is its name?
one who uses the way in their work certainly relies on its name
hence their work gets done and he endures
when the sage works,
they also rely on its name,
hence their deeds are done and they aren’t harmed
in heaven and earth, name and title go together
but beyond these domains, we can think of no suitable name.

By /u/Lemon_Tree

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