The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary
The translator’s work is to deliver context and convey meaning to the resulting medium, staying close to the intent of the creator, maintaining its integrity. In translating Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching – a collection of poems written in 3 BC – Dr. Rosemarie Anderson offers a contemporary feminist read of the Tao in the The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching. Because previous translators of the esoteric text have all been men, Anderson notes that the patriarchal perspective missed the allusions to the “dark womb,” the mother and virgin, which all point to the role of the divine feminine as the creator. Anderson invites the reader to consider the lessons of humility and tenderness of the Tao, traits often ascribed to the feminine.
One might wonder about Anderson’s intention and place as a White American woman in translating the Tao. Questions about cultural appropriation and co-optation are valid. By Anderson’s own account, it’s clear that the translator did the requisite work of becoming fully immersed in Chinese culture, spending years abroad to understand its history in order to deeply embody the language. Her practice of contemplation was guided by the Tao’s essential lesson of “wei wu wei:” act without acting, know without knowing. By listening and feeling deeply, Anderson allowed the ancient text to reveal timeless lessons to unveil a feminist perspective for Western seekers of wisdom.
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