It’s all in the translation….Hidden attitudes toward women.

Below I have given two translations of a famous passage from the Neijing.  The first, along with its commentary reveals such negative attitudes toward women.  I’ve translated this myself and made my own commentary as a response to this.  It’s alway interesting to see the attitude of a translator illuminated in the translation and it is a lesson that we can’t take all translations at face value!

This is the passage from the Neijing Su Wen, chapter 1:

Here is the traslation and commentary of this passage by from Father Claude Larre from The Way of Heaven from Monkey Pres, 1994, pg 74.

At 7 times 7 years,
The Ren Mai is empty,
The Tai Chong Mai declines progressively,
Fertility dries up.
Nothing further passes through the Way of Earth.
The body withers and she no longer has children.

Oy Vey!

Commentary:  “The supporting current, ren mai, is empty and the coupled vital impetus current, Chong Mai, has fallen back to nothing.  The consequence is that what we have called fertility, the gathering of liquid humors from heaven, has dried up.  The body no longer draws to itself a surplus of essences, so no foetus is possible.  The spring of Ren Mai and its release in Chong Mai no longer occurs.  Can one still speak of spring?  With a sadness strictly related to the waning of her powers to transmit the life of Heaven and Earth through herself, the woman see that the Way of Earth is closed in her, and that there is no longer a way of communication with Heaven.”

Amazing!  According to this, post-menopausal women are sad and can’t communicate with heaven!

Redo by Sharon Weizenbaum:

At 7 times 7 years,
The Ren Mai is empty,
The Tai Chong Mai wanes,
The heavenly waters have put forth their full effort.
Nothing further passes through the way of Earth.
The form declines and she no longer has children.

Commentary: “The supporting current, Ren Mai, is empty and the coupled vital impetus current, Chong Mai is beginning the return journey back to spirit.  The gathering of the liquid humours from heaven have reached fulfillment and so the Way of Earth
closes.  Autumn has arrived with all of the abundant harvest there with.  Wisdom of the years allows woman to conserve her gifts while generously and thoughtfully sharing.  With a joy stricly related to the completion of her earthly tasks, the woma enters her well-earned time of power and spiritual wisdom.

Her community rejoices in her gifts!”

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