dao circulation

Chinese for "circulation"

woman sits in ornate chair, dress of many colors and patterns, ornamental

Chinese characters for "Portrait of Empress Xiao xian in winter ceremonial robe"

Spirituality begins in the loins,
Ascends up the back,
And returns to the navel.

Spirituality is not just mental activity. It is also an expression of energy.

The source of this energy is physical, rooted in the basic chemistry of the body. Self-cultivation refines this energy for spiritual attainment. Enlightenment, for a follower of Tao, is therefore a psycho-physical achievement; It is a state of being rather than mere intellectual understanding.

Once the energy is awakened through special exercises and meditations, the follower of Tao knows how to draw this energy upward. The force begins from the genitals and rises up the spine. On its way, it nourishes the kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. When it passes the base of the skull, the nervous system and the lower parts of the brain are stimulated. Reaching the crown, this river of energy opens the entire subconscious potential of a human being. Descending downward, it nourishes the eyes, the senses, the vital organs. Cascading toward the navel, it returns us to our original state of purity. From there, it returns to the loins again, ready to be drawn into another circuit. Just as all existence operates on a continuum between gross physical matter and the most subtle levels of consciousness, so too does the follower of Tao utilize all parts of body, mind, and spirit for spiritual devotion.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Chinese characters for "Portrait of Empress Xiao xian in winter ceremonial robe"

Portrait of Empress Xiaoxian in winter ceremonial robe (c. 1737)
Artist: attributed to Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766)
Wood, silk, paper, metal hardware; silk wrapper
194 x 116 cm.
Height: 107 1/8”; Width: 51 ¾”; Depth: 1 ¾”

Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong
Splendors of China’s Forbidden City is devoted to the long reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795). The exhibition concentrates on Qianlong’s 18th-century period, the last grand era of the Chinese empire. During his long reign, Emperor Qianlong became the epitome of a great Chinese ruler, at once all-powerful and civilized. The Chinese empire reached its largest geographic spread under his rule, while life in China was both peaceful and prosperous. The exhibition investigates how Qianlong achieved this magnificent level. Politically adept, he recognized and supported all facets of Chinese civilization. Although he was a Manchu and remained proud of his nomad forebears, he cultivated the Han Chinese, who formed the majority of the Chinese people. Like his predecessors, the Kangxi and Yongzheng emperors, Qianlong carried out a balancing act between his Manchu heritage and the culture of Han China, which the Manchu Qing dynasty had conquered. (continued from the Curator’s essay: about the exhibit and the art we will continue to see here:)

Qianlong was a Renaissance ruler with a variety of skills and interests, and the next section illustrates his personal taste. This theme of symbols of imperial power continues with a recreation of the imperial throne room from which Qianlong reigned. Large and awe-inspiring, the center of the room is the emperor’s red and gold throne. Adjacent to this are two portraits, attributed to Italian painter Guiseppe Castiglione, of the emperor and his first empress Xiaoxian. The Jesuit court-artist produced these formal court images of the emperor and empress sitting on thrones, clothed in gorgeous robes. During the Qing period, dragon robes had strong hierarchic symbolism, with the emperor’s robes at the top of the ranking system. The dragon on the front of his robe indicates that the ruler is the center of the universe. Here is Qianlong in full, solemn glory.

Qianlong remained devoted to his wife Xiaoxian, even after her untimely death; the way he valued her can be seen in the unusual way the empress raises her hand in a gesture of power, rather than folding it, and in the fact that she sits on a dragon throne, rather than the female phoenix throne.

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
f o u r t e e n
tao verse fourteen

Looked at but cannot be seen - it is beneath form;
Listened to but cannot be heard - it is beneath
Held but cannot be touched - it is beneath feeling;
These depthless things evade definition,
And blend into a single mystery.

In its rising there is no light,
In its falling there is no darkness,
A continuous thread beyond description,
Lining what does not exist;
Its form formless,
Its image nothing,
Its name silence;
Follow it, it has no back,
Meet it, it has no face.

Attend the present to deal with the past;
Thus you grasp the continuity of the Way,
Which is its essence.

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