Is It Possible? “Tao Te Ching” verse 10 for Artists

by | Jul 1, 2014 | 0 comments

Verse 10*
In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation
Can one be like an infant?
In cleaning away the worldly view
Can one be without imperfections?
In loving the people and ruling the nation
Can one be without manipulation?
In the heavenly gate’s opening and closing
Can one hold to the feminine principle?
In understanding clearly all directions
Can one be without intellectuality?
Bearing it, rearing it
Bearing without possession
Achieving without arrogance
Raising without domination
This is called the Mystic Virtue


 Lao Tzu really challenges us with this verse…well, as in all the verses, but I could relate to this one especially not only as an artist, but also as a woman and a mother. Below is my interpretation only through the artist’s heart/mind though.
Is it possible within one artwork to bring out the message, while keeping its spirit pure?
When creating can the artist use all the resources and knowledge acquired and available, yet keep the pure innocence and fluidity in the artwork?
In creating can an artist totally let go of all the conditioning, expectations?
Can one lovingly lead the viewer to the message, without manipulating them?
What about making decisions, yet letting the artwork happen spontaneously?
Can one step back from their own mind and understand clearly everything?

It is to create with all that one has without reservations, without expectations and without taking credit…is it possible? Can it be done? I don’t think one can completely, but isn’t this all that the artist (or any human being for that matter) should strive for? This is what Lao Tzu calls Supreme/Mystic Virtue.

As always, I am eager to hear your ideas….What does your heart/mind say?

*Translation by Derek Lin 



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