dao opportunity

opportunity Chinese for "opportunity"

detail view of amulet box, best description below

A green bird darting in the night.
will you be able to see it?
Will you be able to catch it?

Cling to Tao like shadow.
Move without a shadow.

Times of oppression and adversity cannot last forever. How is the transition made to new and better situations? In the midst of great difficulty, a tiny opportunity will open, if only by chance. You must be sharp enough to discern it, quick enough to catch it, and determined enough to do something with it. If you let it pass, you will be filled with regrets.

Stick to Tao like a shadow. Wherever it goes, you go. As soon as it throws something your way, catch it by sheer reflex. It is like the bird: If you try to catch it, you will miss. If you are always with it, moving at its speed, as much a part of it as its own shadow, then it is easy to seize it.

When you act, however, you in turn must have no shadow. In other words, what you do must leave no messiness, no leftover consequences, nothing that will haunt you later. That is one of the ways in which you avoid creating more bad situations for yourself: Your every movement is traceless.


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

Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World
Amulet Box (Gau)
Gold, silver, pearls and turquoise
Tibet, 17th - 18th century
H: 21 cm; L: 16 cm; Thickness: 9 cm

Tibet Museum, Lhasa
full size view
Published: Well-Selected, p. 118, no. 88; Treasures from Snow Mountains, p. 147, no. 65; Tibet Museum Catalog, p. 182, no. 1

A gau is an amulet box with a removable back into which a sacred image is placed, along with such things as mantras, relics, and sacred medicines. A cord is attached to the brackets on the sides, so it may be worn around the neck as a portable altar, for blessings and protection and to maintain spiritual connections with deities and Lamas. When not worn on the body, it is placed on an altar at home.

This shrine shaped gau came from the Norbulingka and contains a gilded image of the Buddha Amitayus. The gold work on the front cover of the gau is especially fine. It shows the Buddha Shakyamuni on top, and Palden Lhamo on the bottom, with eight dancing goddesses between them. The inner section of openwork design, outlined with small pearls, depicts Garuda on top, two dragons on the sides, two lions on the lower corners, and two deer kneeling in front of a Dharma wheel, the symbol of the Buddha's teaching.

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
t w e n t y - s e v e n

tao 27

A good walker leaves no tracks;
A good speaker makes no slips;
A good reckoner needs no tally.
A good door needs no lock,
Yet no one can open it.
Good binding requires no knots,
Yet no one can loosen it.

Therefore the sage takes care of all men
And abandons no one.
He takes care of all things
And abandons nothing.

This is called ‘following the light.’

What is a good man?
A teacher of a bad man.
What is a bad man?
A good man's charge.
If the teacher is not respected,
And the student not cared for,
Confusion will arise, however clever one is.
This is the crux of mystery.

— today's translation is by Gia-Fu Feng

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