Know the masculine, but abide in the feminine, be the most humble of the world.
-> Master the self (masculine, active), but abide in reality underneath the self (feminine, passive). Then the self can serve humbly in the world.
The most humble always remains with virtue, and eventually return to infant.
-> By abiding in reality underneath the self, one is not afflicted by the various recklessness of the typical self, and therefore remains with pure virtue. Like infants, before it is affected by various patterns and believe systems of the world, it is pure.
Know white, but abide in black, be the model of the world.
-> Model of the world is not affected by the selfish attachments or aversion of the typical self (white), it realizes and abides in the reality underneath the self (black). How to attain real abiding in the black? Through knowing the white (understanding and mastering the self). I.e. one needs to fully know what one’s “self” is to master and transcend it. (To claim one has transcended the “self” without knowing what the self is, would be like a ostrich burying its head underneath the sand and claiming there is no predator)
The model of the world always aligns with virtue, and eventually returns to the unmanifest.
-> When one goes deeper into the core of one’s existence, underneath the self is the non-personal witness, underneath the non-personal witness is the non-personal Self, and underneath the non-personal Self is the unmanifest. So the model of the world eventually returns to the unmanifest.
Know honour, but abide in insult, be the valley (vassel) of the world.
-> On the worldly level, like we typical like honor and recognition, know this is the self’s need, but allow for insult as well. If we can embrace insult and be unmoved by honor, we go beyond these two states (no self arise in either case), and will become the valley that allows for both.
The valley of the world always fills with virtue, and eventually returns to simpleness.
-> Valley is not empty or lifeless, it is filled with virtue (it embraces and manifests). When one is at one with the valley, what is the need for complexity, extra or special? Simplicity manifests diversity.
When simpleness is dispersed it manifests as forms.
-> When the simple unmanifest become manifested, oneness appears as forms. E.g. When we wake up from unconscious to conscious, we see forms appearing. When we abide in the non-personal witness, we see forms coming and going. The underlying is simple.
When sage use it (simpleness) and he becomes the lord of the officers, therefore great system does not segregate.
-> sages realize and abide in the simpleness (witness-Self-Unmanifest) underneath forms (manifested), he know who is the father and who are the sons. And therefore he knows the proper relationship between the lord (father) and the officers (sons). E.g. In computer the CPU is running and giving orders to the computer parts. Great system, like a computer, works as a whole (with its designated father-and-sons like structure). The monitor can not function when it is segregated from the CPU. Likewise in human life, the self cannot function without the ongoing support of the reality underneath it.
* * *
Chapter 28 Discussion:
Dao, when perceived as human, is pure like infant; when reached at its depth by human, is the unmanifest; Despite of its ultimate potential for diversity and complexity, is simple in its nature; despite of its manifestation into seemingly segregate forms, is whole.
How do we approach Dao? We master the external (masculine, white, changing), and abide in the internal (feminine, black, unchanged). When we master something, we accept it, reown it, transcend it, and then we are freed from it.
Bilingual version of Chapter 28: http://www.lisiming.com/philosophy/chinese-philosophy/daoist/daoist-philosophy/dao-de-jing-core-33-chapters/ddj11-3/