Tao-teh-king (Chin.). Lit., “The Book of the Perfectibility of Nature” written by the great philosopher Lao-tze. It is a kind of cosmogony which contains all the fundamental tenets of Esoteric Cosmo genesis. Thus he says that in the beginning there was naught but limitless and boundless Space. All that lives and is, was born in it, from the “Principle which exists by Itself, developing Itself from Itself”, i.e., Swabhâvat. As its name is unknown and it essence is unfathomable, philosophers have called it Tao (Anima Mundi), the uncreate, unborn and eternal energy of nature, manifesting periodically. Nature as well as man when it reaches purity will reach rest, and then all become one with Tao, which is the source of all bliss and felicity. As in the Hindu and Buddhistic philosophies, such purity and bliss and immortality can only be reached through the exercise of virtue and the perfect quietude of our worldly spirit; the human mind has to control and finally subdue and even crush the turbulent action of man’s physical nature; and the sooner he reaches the required degree of moral purification, the happier he will feel. As the famous Sinologist, Pauthier, remarked: “Human Wisdom can never use language more holy and profound”.—H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary.
The Tao Te Ching has been translated into English countless times, but we have yet to see one that brings out the cosmogony described above by H.P.B. Typical translations tend to interpret the Chinese characters largely in their moral, or we might say, their human, element, but it is possible to approach the text in another way. Here we present a translation of the opening chapter, as literal as possible, and with an eye to the “esoteric cosmo genesis” that can indeed be found within its words.
To touch upon the difference in translation between this and other common translations, let us briefly examine the opening verse.
The first verse is as follows (in pinyin): “dào kě dào, fēi cháng dào”. A common translation is something like this: “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao” (tr. Stephen Mitchell). However, if we look at the text closely we will immediately see a problem with this. Let us break down each term.
dào: the mysterious term, which HPB equates with Anima Mundi. We have given our own interpretation of its esoteric meaning here: The Meaning of Tao.
kě: can; may; able to
fēi: non-; not-; un-
cháng: always; ever; often; frequently; common; general; constant
If we were to follow the common method of translating this verse we would be required to give it more literally as “The tao that can be taoed is not the eternal tao.” There is no idea of “telling” or “being told”, etc., in this verse—the common translations attempt to give a certain meaning, as the translators see it, but in their attempt they fail to follow the very terms themselves. However, as HPB hints at above, there is another way. Her translation of this opening verse is: “The Principle which exists by Itself, developing Itself from Itself.” Ours follows a similar approach.
The term kě indicates “able to”. Now, in Chinese, the term kě can be paired with the term that immediately follows it, and by doing so it gives that term the sense of “being able”. For instance, kě prior to the term dòng (to move) gives us the compound kědòng, or “moveable” (i.e. with the potential to move). Thus, when the term kě immediately precedes the term dào, we end up with kědào, or “dào in posse“, that is, “dào in potential”. H.P.B. sees in this “Tao developing itself”, in the same light, we may suppose, as we may see with the second Logos, which is neither unmanifested nor manifested, but manifesting.
The compound term fēicháng may be approached literally as “not-always”, or as the compound is often given, simply as “uncommon” or “extraordinary”. But we may see another angle to the meaning, which is that of “non-eternalness”, and indeed “eternal” is the most common translation of the term cháng in this verse. This “non-eternalness” goes to the heart of “not-always” or “not-forever”, which is the idea of mutability or changeability, and thus we have “dào in esse” (i.e. in existence, in actuality, in being), or, we might say, “manifested dào”.
So we may divide this opening verse into three compounds: 1. dào per se, 2. kě dào, or dào in posse, and 3. fēicháng dào, or dào in esse. Such an approach is far more literal than the common translations, and brings us straight to the heart of the cosmogony H.P.B. hints at. Dealing with the Chinese characters in a similar light throughout the rest of the first chapter, gives us the following translation (one may compare it with The Secret Doctrine I:328 in order to better unveil its meaning).
dào kě dào, fēi cháng dào | míng kě míng, fēi cháng míng | wú míng tiān dì zhī shĭ; yŏu míng wàn wù zhī mŭ | gù cháng wú, yù yĭ guān qí miào; cháng yŏu, yù yĭ guān qí jiăo | cĭ liăng zhě, tóng chū ér yì míng, tóng wèi zhī xuán | xuán zhī yòu xuán, zhòng miào zhī mèn
The (Immutable) Word per se,3 the Word in posse, the Word in esse (Mutable).
Wordless (in silence) Heaven and Earth begin.
The Existant (in esse) Word is the Mother of the great number4 of objective (manifest) things.
Ever-existing desire gives rise to the beholding of its own boundary (Cosmic Substance).8
These two sides arise together, yet are distinct. The Word (their source) is the same, and is called Dark Mystery—mystery within a mystery! The Universal Mind (Ideation) is the doorway to the multitude.9
This is a continuation of an effort to translate the Tao Te Ching along the lines of its inner meaning, that which “contains all the fundamental tenets of Esoteric Cosmo genesis” according to H.P. Blavatsky. The first chapter dealt primarily with the Unmanifested condition of the Tao itself, while the second chapter will take us into the first stages of manifestation, as well as providing an overview of the cycle of manifestation. In a certain sense, the first chapter can be seen to correspond to the first fundamental proposition of the Secret Doctrine and the second chapter with the second and third fundamental propositions.
The translation here has forgone any attempt at poetry as it is primarily an attempt to demonstrate that there is a deeper meaning than typically unveiled in English translations. Each character used in the original text has both an outer, common meaning, and an inner, esoteric meaning. The inner meaning is found by delving in to the pictographs themselves and discovering the root meaning of each of its parts.
The footnotes here attempt to explain some of the rationale in the translation, by breaking down the characters and comparing them with concepts drawn from the Secret Doctrine. Because of the complexity of the Chinese characters and because many have changed over time (in both their appearance and common meaning), great reliance was placed on several sources that provide insight into their etymologies.
The following is but a preliminary translation. There are still a few instances that are puzzling, which no doubt could be improved upon. But the hope is that the following will at least illustrate that there is much more to this little book than may at first meet the eye.
tiān xià jiē zhī měi zhī wéi měi, sī è yǐ | jiē zhī shàn zhī wéi shàn, sī bù shàn yǐ | yŏu wú xiāng shēng, nán yì xiāng chéng, cháng duǎn xiāng xíng, gāo xià xiāng qīng, yīn shēng xiāng hé, qián hòu xiāng suí | héng yě | shì yǐ shèng rén chù wú wéi zhī shì, xíng bù yán zhī jiào; wàn wù zuò ér fú shǐ, shēng ér fú yǒu | wéi ér fú shì, gōng chéng ér bù jū | fū wéi fú jū, shì yǐ bù qù
Under Heaven [alt. Above and Below]:1
All together, each of the Logoi2 becomes aware3 of the fullness of its own Self, the good/beautiful,4 (and so causes) itself to become (to manifest) that fullness as the good/beautiful;5 thus evil (i.e. the night of non-being, the absence of the good, or being) is stopped.
(So) all together, each of the Logoi becomes aware of its own benevolent power (the power to manifest),6 (and so causes) itself to become (to activate) its benevolent power; thus the non-benevolent power7 (the power to unmanifest) is stopped.
|(Thus) Being8 and Non-Being are mutually engendered;||Alt.9 Thus the contrast between the Manifest and the Unmanifest is engendered together as the primary differentiation;|
|Difficult and easy are mutually completed;||Alt. The bird the colour of the golden/fiery field of earth10 (which is) the spiritual sun, and the gift of its benevolent rays11 are accomplished (as sacrifice)12 together;|
|Long and short (duration) are mutually shaped;||Alt. A full lifespan (manvantara) and the length of a single moment are both defined (pre-ordained) from the beginning and are mutually mayavic;13|
|High and low face one another;||Alt. The upper and lower limits of manifestation face and thus enclose one another;14|
|Speaking and the sound made (heard) are in harmony with one another;||Alt. The One Word and its multitudinous sound are ever in union as “the grain-stalk of the mouth”15 (i.e. as that which is productive of effects);|
|Before (future) and after (past) follow one another.||Alt. So the One (Purusha) “rides forward on the waters”16 and “with difficulty steps into generation”17 and submits to embodiment (in Prakriti).|
The heart (monad) travels downstream between the two shores and falls into the great vortex.18
(They) bring forth life (and growth) and become bound to manifested existence.30
(Once) manifested they become bound by the “law of the heart”.31
Thus the Sun of Day dawns (again) by means of (generated by) the Great Man, who resides (between days) in his cocoon.37
3. Word = Logos.
4. Lit. “ten thousand”. All “things” within a system, i.e. within the realm of a manifested Logos, which is not the same as saying “all things” in the abstract. It is essentially a very large, but still finite quantity. These “things” are the Monads. “There must be a limited number of Monads evolving and growing more and more perfect through their assimilation of many successive personalities, in every new Manvantara. This is absolutely necessary in view of the doctrines of Rebirth, Karma, and the gradual return of the human Monad to its source—absolute Deity. Thus, although the hosts of more or less progressed Monads are almost incalculable, they are still finite, as is everything in this Universe of differentiation and finiteness.” (S.D. I:171)
5. Desireless cause, i.e. by impulse, or by necessity.
6. Akin to the Sanskrit term is īksa or aiksa, which “means at once to see or to view and to speak; as though it were a visible voice, or an audible flash of light.” (Charles Johnston, Commentary on Aitareya Upanishad)
7. This is a “beholding” (thus “re-awakening”) of Cosmic Ideation or Universal Mind (see S.D. I:328)
8. This is a concurrent “beholding” (thus “re-awakening”) of Cosmic Substance (see S.D. I:328)
9. i.e. through Universal Mind differentiation takes place, thus developing increasing heterogeneity.
1. This seems to simply be a kind of chapter marker indicating what is now to be considered—that which occurs below heaven, i.e. manifestation, whereas chapter one considered the unmanifest, or rather, the nature of Tao in itself. The alternative rendering, “Above and Below”, which is more literal, would indicate that this chapter is to deal with the essential duality of manifestation, the primary differentiation. The first chapter, we will remember, closed with Universal Mind, Mahat, as the gateway to the multitude. Now we are to consider the first stages of that multitude, as it emerges from Universal Mind. The most literal and complete rendering of these two opening terms might be something like this: “The expanse above man and that which is below it”.
2. “jiē” 皆, lit. “each person together” may stand for the collective Logoi of any system, or likewise for the Monads. “. . . as soon as DARKNESS—or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance—has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought) the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent. “—Secret Doctrine, I:380
3. “zhī” 知, is a compound of two characters, which indicate a man shooting an arrow through a mouth. We are reminded of the concept of “hitting the mark” from the old Upanishads. To be aware or to know is thus to “fire the arrow” of one’s “power to know” through that which engenders the Word, or, in other words, to focus one’s consciousness upon some thing, whether objective or subjective.
4. “měi” 美, is a compound of two characters, that of a sheep (yáng) and an upright standing person (dà) and carries with it the significance of big/great/plump, as also the significance of gentleness/goodness/beauty and the “uprightness” of the standing man (Self). We see in it the significance of the “pilgrim”, the Self or Monad that is to journey through the “cycle of necessity”, led by its eternal shepherd, the Tao, the “One Self Moving”. Its essential being is the fullness of the Good in the Platonic sense—which is the heart of the common meaning of “měi”—and it would seem to be the “form of Purusha” in the Upanishads. “Atma, Supreme Self, verily, was here in the beginning, having the form of Purusha. He, looking this way and that, saw naught but himself. ‘This am I,’ he declared in the beginning. Thence the name ‘I’ came into being. . . . Because he had before (purva) consumed (ush) all sin and darkness from all this, for that reason he is named Purusha.”—Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, I:4:1
5. The core idea here is that the awakening of “knowing” or “awareness” of itself leads immediately to the beginning of the manifestation of that which is known. The moment the power to perceive awakens and becomes once more active is the moment manifestation begins (cosmic ideation and cosmic substance arise together, simultaneously). Thus perception and action are seen as a fundamental complimentary pair.
6. “shàn” 善, is a compound of two characters, one indicating the speaking of words and the other indicating sheep and carrying the idea of gentleness and goodness. Thus the “benevolent power” is the ability to speak (i.e. manifest) goodness (which stands for “being”, i.e. being=good, non-being=evil or not-good in the symbolism).
7. “bù shàn” 不善. The symbol for “bù” is that of a bird flying away to heaven (ref. the kala-hamsa, symbol of AUM, the Word, when withdrawn, or soaring beyond space and time, or beyond manifestation (see Secret Doctrine, I:78 & I:359 and Voice of the Silence, Glossary to Fragment I, notes 10 & 16)). Thus “bù” would seem to indicate the general idea “to withdraw” or “to unmanifest”, in its most basic meaning “to die”, quite literally to “fly away to heaven”, thus in combination with “shàn” it would indicate the power to unmanifest. The power to manifest and the power to unmanifest are, then, the very same power either directed “below heaven” or “above heaven”, either directed to manifest or to unmanifest, to build or dissolve, etc.. When, at the close of pralaya (cosmic night) the power is directed to once again initiate manifest, it is naturally (and immediately) stopped from unmanifesting. Thus these verses would seem to trace the initial stage of manifestation, when SELF awakens to itself and thus directs its power to once again begin manifesting.
8. “yǒu” 有. The symbol for “yǒu” indicates a right hand grasping the moon. The moon is a universal ancient symbol for Mind, thus “yǒu” indicates manifested being, the Self taking hold of manifestation, which comes about as a result of the power of Mind (macrocosmically Universal Mind or Mahat, microcosmically Manas).
9. This, and the following five verses, are given in both a surface (exoteric) rendering and a deeper (esoteric) rendering. The esoteric rendering is developed through analysis of the Chinese compound characters by searching through to their root-meanings. This may give some insight into the multi-layered nature of the original text.
10. “nán” 難, is a compound character containing the a pictograph of a bird along with a compound signifying “yellow” (bright, fiery, golden) earth—the significance of “earth” here being the whole of manifestation in its highest sense—thus the bird that is the colour of the fiery or golden light of manifestation. We see here the kala-hamsa and the golden or luminous egg (Hiranyagarbha), the “Golden Egg resplendent as the Sun”. See Secret Doctrine, I:359 & I:89, etc..
11. For a deep analysis of the term under consideration, see here. In the semi-exoteric significance the rays are the light-rays of the Sun that shine their gift upon us on Earth, but the esoteric significance is exactly that of the rays of the stanzas of Dzyan (see Secret Doctrine, I:15, I:57, I:64, I:80, etc., etc.)
12. “chéng” 成. It’s outward meaning is “finish; complete; accomplish; succeed, etc.”. Interestingly, however, the character for “chéng” is a compound containing pictographs of: 1. a stake with a horizontal bar (thus an upright cross), 2. a long vertical blade, and 3. the phonetic pictograph of a nail. Thus it would seem to quite accurately foreshadow the much later story, wherein the sacrifice of the “Son” was accomplished by use of a cross, nails and a spear. We may see in this term, in its present context, a symbol of the sacrifice of the One into manifestation, the “flashing of the ray into the germ” or the “dropping of the ray into the mother-deep” (see stanzas of Dzyan). This is the “first sacrifice”, called “adhiyajna” in the Bhagavad Gita.
13. This verse seems to go to the heart of the nature of Duration and the concept of Periodicity, the regular, predictable, turning of cyclic manifestation, which allows for the period of a manvantara as well as that of a single moment to be calculated accurately.
14. As the inside plane-surface of the bottom and top halves of a sphere face each other at every angle, thus ascribing boundary and limitation on the extent of the “luminous egg”.
15. hé 和, is a compound of two characters, one indicating a rising stalk of grain and the other indicating a mouth, thus, in the present context, the meaning that sound issued from the mouth engenders growths (effects) just as a stalk from the ground produces grain. The idea of the Self as a seed of grain is a common ancient symbol (see Upanishads and New Testament, see: See Chhandogya, III:14:2-3 and Brihad Aranyaka, V:6; Matthew 13:31-32, etc.). So the Word, the Logos, is the divine Voice by which the key-note vibration of manifestation is struck, from which all forms and effects arise.
16. qián前, is a compound character meaning, lit. “Moving forward in a boat with poles”, thus indicating an easy gliding upon the waters of space. The “waters” are the “currents of karma”, as Sankaracharya explains in his commentaries on the Upanishads. This easy movement is contrasted by:
17. hòu 後, a compound of three characters, the first being a pictograph of a foetus, the second being a pictograph of a person taking a small step, and the third indicating difficult movement as though one were shackled. Thus we have the difficult, constrained and shackled movements of one under the sway of karma who is bound to embodiment—the meaning can be applied macrocosmically or microcosmically.
18. héng yě恆也. “héng” is a compound signifying “the heart that perseveres the crossing” into manifested existence, literally its component parts indicate the heart (xīn: “heart, mind, intelligence, soul, center, core) traveling downstream between two shores, while “yě” is a pictograph of a funnel. This two-character verse (not typically included in translations) is, in a sense, a more graphic recapitulation of the previous verse, but also carries the genesis one step further. “Whatsoever quits the Laya State, becomes active life; it is drawn into the vortex of MOTION (the alchemical solvent of Life). . .” (Book of Dzyan, Comm. III., par. 18). See Secret Doctrine, I:258
19. “shì”是, lit. “to be”, is a compound character with the sun rising over the horizon at dawn. Thus “being”, or the emergence of “being” is equated with the rising of the sun and the beginning of “day”, a Cosmic day or Manvantara. “yǐ” 以, indicates “by means of”, but is also a compound character formed of a fetus next to a person, thus signifying “by means of generation”.
20. “shèngrén”聖人. Lit. “sacred person”, often simply translated as “sage”. “Shèng” is a compound of three characters, 1. a man (rèn), 2. a mouth (kou), and 3. an ear (ěr), and is thus typically interpreted as a man with good speech who listens well, thus a “sage”. In the present context a more esoteric meaning is revealed when we consider earlier verses indicating the Word, or speech as the benevolent power, the generative force of manifestation, and the harmony/union between that speech and the sound that is made and heard. These thus stand for the two primary powers of the One Self: the power to ideate and the power to perceive. This Sacred Man may be here equivalent to “Adi-Sanat”, or the “Ancient of Days” (see Secret Doctrine, I:98). “The first Heavenly Man is the unmanifested Spirit of the Universe.” (see Secret Doctrine, I:215)
21. “wúwéi” 無為 or 无为. Perfectly harmonious action, non-binding action, actionless action, action in perfect harmony with Tao, etc. (see Bhagavad Gita).
22. “shì”事, is a compound character, composed of four pictographs: “one”, “mouth”, “right-hand”, and “hook”. The meaning would seem to be that both word and act (mouth and right-hand) are in harmony, are bound together as one (the way a hook may be threaded through several things in order to bind them together). “SHILA, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.”—Voice of the Silence. Thus the “action” of the Sacred Man (Purusha, in its highest significance) is perfect “wúwéi”.
23. “Adi-Budha”. See Secret Doctrine, I:1-2, I:110 & I:328
24. “jiāo” 教 , the term for “teaching”, carries with it the meaning of passing wisdom to a child, or from father to offspring. “Simultaneously with the evolution of the Universal Mind, the concealed Wisdom of Adi-Buddha—the One Supreme and eternal—manifests itself as Avalokiteshwara (or manifested Iswara), which is the Osiris of the Egyptians, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Heavenly Man of the Hermetic philosopher, the Logos of the Platonists, and the Atman of the Vedantins.”—Secret Doctrine, I:110
25. “bù yán”, lit. withdrawn or unmanifested speech, thus “silence”, or the “voice of the silence”. “Absolute wisdom mirrors itself in its ideation”—Secret Doctrine, I:328. In its regular significance this is the voice of conscience, the “silent voice” within, which is the true teacher.
26. i.e. the Divine Plan, the “concealed wisdom” is imprinted upon them at the outset of manifestation.
27. “ér” 而, in its common definition idicates “and; as well as; but (not); yet (not); (shows causal relation); (shows change of state); (shows contrast)”. It is a pictograph of a beard, which is symbolic of growth, change, maturity, hence the underlying idea of a change of state, i.e. from initial stage to later stage, from child to man, from seedling to plant, so to speak. The term “ér” stands in the middle of this and each of the following three verses, and so each verse can be seen to have an initial stage and a result that comes from a change or maturation from that initial stage.
28. “fú”弗, has come into use phonetically to mean “no” or “not”, but its pictographic meaning is that of a rope tying together two sticks, one of which is curved (piě) signifying motion. Thus the meaning is to bind that which is in motion to that which is not, or generally to “bind together”. We may see deeper significance if we consider the duality of “Motion” and “Substance” as representing the two sides of manifestation, the Subjective and Objective. The kind of binding indicated in these verses would seem to be that which binds the Subjective to the Objective, or Spirit to Matter. (see Secret Doctrine, Proem)
29. “shǐ” 始. It’s common significance is “begin”. It is a compound character containing a pictograph of a seated woman and two characters that together indicate “private mouth”. The meaning would indicate “beginning from a woman’s birth-canal”, symbolic of the beginning of life.
30. “The idea that things can cease to exist and still BE, is a fundamental one in Eastern psychology. Under this apparent contradiction in terms, there rests a fact of Nature to realise which in the mind, rather than to argue about words, is the important thing.”—Secret Doctrine, I:54. The SELF per se is not subject to the existence of that which it gives birth to, but “stands apart”, so to speak, just as the Sun remains unaffected when its rays come in contact with the atmosphere of the Earth. The SELF, and its rays, are beyond the duality of ex-istence. (see Secret Doctrine, I:15)
31. “shì” 恃. The common meaning is “rely upon”, but “shì” is a compound character composed of a heart and a temple (thus, the temple of the heart). The temple is itself a compound of a hand providing an offering, or alternatively indicating the development “zhī” of laws. So that which is relied upon are the “laws of the heart”, maintained within the temple and sustained by offerings (by true sacrifice). We might use the Buddhist term “dharma” to summarize the meaning.
32. These four verses seem to contain a concise fourfold division of the cycle of life, from birth to youth to maturity and to death. We may follow the line of reasoning thus:
1. the monads are written into being, thus they are bound to birth.
2. because they are bound to birth they begin to live and grow, thus they are bound to manifested existence (in life).
3. because they are bound to life and growth they are bound to follow the law (dharma) of life.
4. because they follow the dharma, thus (in time) they withdraw from manifested life. So the cycle is completed.
33. “jū” 居, has an outer meaning of “to reside” or “to reside in”, but it is a compound character composed of three parts: 1. a body, specifically a “lower body”, 2. the sign for ten (“shí”, which is a cross +), and which is the complete or perfect number (the definition for shí is “ten, tenth, complete, perfect”), and 3. a mouth (signifying an “opening” as well as speech/the Word or Logos, and its power). So the compound meaning seems to indicate the complete or perfect body of manifestation, the tenfold-body built by the power of the Word (the Logos). This “body” is thus the complete Sephirothal Tree, or the Tetragrammaton, the “’ten limbs’ of the Heavenly Man” (see Secret Doctrine, I:215).
34. “fū” 夫, Man. The “Heavenly Man”, Adam Kadmon (see Secret Doctrine, I:60). The distinction between this Great Man and the earlier Sacred Man seems to be the same distinction as is made here: “the ‘Ancient of Days,’ descending on Adam Kadmon whom he uses as his vehicle to manifest through, gets transformed into Tetragrammaton” (Secret Doctrine, I:60). If this holds true, the Ancient of Days is the Sacred Man, Adam Kadmon is the Great Man, and the Tetragrammaton is the “body of manifestation”.
35. “wéi” 唯, is a compound symbol containing a mouth and a bird, thus signifying the kala-hamsa who is the AUM, the Word. The same symbol for bird used here is found in the character “nán” 難 (see earlier note).
“Kala Hamsa, the Swan out of Time and Space, convertible into the Swan in Time, when it becomes Brahmâ instead of Brahma (neuter).”—Voice of the Silence
“Brahma (neuter) is called Kalahansa, meaning, as explained by Western Orientalists, the Eternal Swan or goose , and so is Brahmâ, the Creator. A great mistake is thus brought under notice; it is Brahma (neuter) who ought to be referred to as Hansa-vahana (He who uses the swan as his Vehicle) and not Brahmâ the Creator, who is the real Kalahansa, while Brahma (neuter) is hamsa, and ‘A-hamsa,’”—Secret Doctrine, I:20
So the Great Man is Brahmā, the Kalahansa, who is bound to the body of manifestation.
36. i.e. after “death”, after withdrawing from the body of manifestation (riding the bird towards heaven (see note on “bù”)) the Man remains bound to the body of manifestation.
37. “qù” 去, is a compound character identical with “fū” 夫, but with the addition of 厶, “private, secret”, which comes originally from a pictographic of a silk cocoon. Thus, “the Great Man in a cocoon”, hidden, private, awaiting rebirth, just as the Sun, after it sets, is hidden by the “cocoon” of the dark sky waiting to dawn again. The Great Man in his cocoon can be applied to the state between two incarnations, microcosmically, or to the state between two manvantaras, macrocosmically, as well as to any “night” of any cycle between these. The difference between “fū” and “qù” is the difference between the Great Man when awake (to manifestation) and when asleep (withdrawn from manifestation).