dao accumulation

Chinese for "accumulation"

abstract view of earth

An opening in the storming sea.
Gold deposited on bones.
Once accumulation has begun,
Take care not to interfere.

There is a fable about a pious man whose father had just died. A geomancer instructed the son to bury his father at the mouth of a sea cave. The sea opened at this spot only once in a hundred years, and a family who utilized it would experience great fortune. Although he had misgivings about this unorthodox location, the son threw the casket into the waters at the indicated time.

For weeks the son doubted what he had done. He eventually went to a competing geomancer, who, out of jealousy, advised the son to raise the casket. The son did so. When the coffin was brought up and opened, the man saw that a fine layer of pure god had already been deposited on his father’s bones—a clear indication of the auspicious transformation that had begun. In regret, the son wanted to throw his father back in, but it was too late. There was no remedying what had been done.

Spiritual practice must be uninterrupted. We may be anxious because we see very little happening on a daily basis, but we must be patient until we can see what the accumulation of our effort yields. Self-cultivation means steady, gradual progress. To stop prematurely would be more disastrous than never having started at all.


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

signature of artist

landscape Landscape
ink, diptych on Kyro
70 x 100 cm ::1968
signed with date lower right
Collection: Musée National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet

The 1960's represent a shift in his work. Installed in Paris, in a small, poorly equipped flat in the rue Liancourt, T'ang travels extensively to the United States and through Europe, responding to invitations and an urge to discover new places. On an almost daily basis, wherever he is staying, he keeps a painted diary of the impressions triggered by landscapes. By then, he has assimilated the western styles and even if he is still using oil paints, he finds a greater freedom of expression in watered-down gouache, watercolors and ink. This choice suits his nature, he sees himself as a Taoist and practices painting as a way of self-fulfillment. Some western observers have defined Taoism as a natural mysticism in order to explain its influence over the arts by comparison with other major cultures. Others have even coined it as the true religion of China. The spiritual aspect of Tao is undoubtedly central to Chinese painting. It conditioned its creative processes, its subjects and their interpretation. The still life is replaced by the expression of the living spirit of an object, a flower or a landscape translated by a few brushstrokes, following a principle of tension between opposite or complementary forces. There is no sun without a shadow. The Tao brings life to the mountain and water, literally shansui or landscape in the Chinese terminology. They possess an intrinsic nature. The painter can see the spirit of the mountain and seize it before it flees. This belief gives the painter a quasi-religious role of observer. When it touches the extraordinary, no one can say whether Art is Tao or Tao is Art.
(continued tomorrow)

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
f o r t y - t h r e e
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse forty-three"

The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action.

Teaching without words and work without doing
Are understood by very few.
— translated by GIA-FU FENG

The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.

Teaching without words,
performing without actions:
that is the Master's way.
— translated by STEVEN MITCHELL

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