The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth;The named is the mother of all things
The first named in the beginning of the Tao Te Ching after the nameless or beginning of Heaven and Earth is the mother or the feminine principle. This symbol of passivity and creativity is explaining that everything that comes from the unknown must first be received and then birthed into the known. The receptive quality of the feminine allows us to receive knowledge from the unknown. The creative quality of the feminine allows us to birth this knowledge into the world. Without the feminine principle this would be impossible. The receptive feminine is the "mysterious intuition" which brings forth knowledge from the Way or the Tao, which is the source of all being. "The gateway of all subtleties" is the receptive feminine. It is not based on gender, whether male or female, this receptivity is essential to be in contact with the Tao. The feminine is vital in developing intuition.
The number 6 passage reiterates this concept:
The spirit of the valley does not die.
It is called the mysterious female.
The gate of the mysterious female
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth.
The 'spirit' of the 'valley', valley being a receptive synonym, does not die because it is always an ability that is innate and can be fostered or developed in order to receive information from the Tao. It is mysterious because it has the ability to receive the unknown. In number 10, the Tao Te Ching asks the questions, "In the opening and closing of the gates of Heaven, can you play the role of the female? In understanding all within the four reaches, can you do nothing (wuwei)? Give life to things, rear them." Wuwei, or doing nothing, is this feminine principle. It is the practice of meditation or stilling the mind in order to be receptive to Qi, the vital force or energy, which contains within it knowledge of the unknown to bring forth. Qi, flows from the Tao. Can you give life to things or birth them into the material world and rear them in order for this information to be shared by others and contribute to life? This is also explained in number 11, "Clay is molded to form a vessel; there being nothing inside, the vessel is useful." The form is the body and mind and by practicing wuwei, the vessel, a feminine synonym, can be filled, thus making it useful. All of this is feminine.
Number 28 in the Tao Te Ching discriminates the male from the female:
Knowing the male, but keeping to the female,
One may become a ravine to the world.
Becoming a ravine to the world,
The constant virtue does not depart;
One returns to the state of infancy.
A child can play and be in the world, but it always returns or holds to its mother. Being male, but holding to the female principle to become a 'ravine' to the world. Being the feminine ravine to the world is the ability to receive knowledge from the Way as a child. There are no preconceptions or working intellect to obstruct the reception. There is an innocence in the 'state of infancy' that does not allow guilt or other trappings of the ego to interfere with this reception. The child is constantly in a state of virtue. This is describing the state of consciousness that a person, male or female, must have in order to meditate and receive from the Dao.
The feminine is innocent. What a concept in contrast to the Western mindset of religion! In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the female has been demonized since the Garden of Eden. Instead of the root of all Heaven and Earth, she is the root of all evil. Women have suffered more discrimination and torture than all the minorities combined and have been subject to this inequality for longer than any other minority in the Western hemisphere. Why? Isn't it because of a patriarchal misconception of the feminine principle? Couldn't it be that Eve is just the feminine receptive mind that 'received' the knowledge of good and evil or the world of opposites? This misinterpretation has caused us to become male and lose the fundamental and vital essence of the feminine principle necessary to receive the truth. The Tao Te Ching explains this world of opposites in number 2, "When everyone in the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness appears" and "When everyone knows good as good, not-good arrives." Isn't it the male ugliness or ego and the not-good that has separated the Western mind from the feminine principle so essential to spirituality? The female has indeed become the victim of the world of opposites in Western religion.