dao affirmation

Chinese for "affirmation"

bust sideway view of man cat in arms

Stand at the precipice,
That existential darknesss,
and call into the void:
It will surely answer.

The precipice represents our dilemma as human beings, the sense that this existence is all too random, all too absurd. Is there order? Is there a force directing things? These are the important issues, so important that we cannot rely on scripture, but must instead explore on our own.

The followers of Tao compare the void to a valley. A valley is void, yet it is productive and positive. The emptiness of the valley permits water to accumulate for plants. It allows life giving sunlight to flood its surface. Its openness gives comfort to people and animals alike. The void should not be frightening. Rather, it contains all possibilities. Peer into it, call out, not just with your voice, but with your whole being. If your cry is deep and sincere, an echo is sure to return. This is the affirmation of our existence, the affirmation that we are on the right path. With that encouragement, we can continue our lives and our explorations. Then the void is not frightening, but a constant companion.

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

signature of artist

Self portrait with cat
ink on Kyro,100 x 70 cm,
circa 55, signed lower right

Once in France, T'ang attends Paris University and, in 1949, receives a degree in French Civilization with honors. He also attends French literature and Oriental language classes, and briefly attends medical school. In 1950, he begins to take some drawing lessons at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and spends most of his time visiting museums and galleries. He teaches himself oil painting, produces portraits, still-lifes and landscapes in a figurative manner and applies the rules of perspective. The dexterity of his hand, trained by calligraphy, as well as a definite gift for observation enable him to progress quickly in mastering flat brush techniques and the composition exercises of western painting. Naturally, he quotes western masters and looks to his immediate environment for subjects. Even in the early stages, his creations convey a typically Chinese atmosphere and sense of space..

He produces nostalgic pieces about China, serigraphs and small watercolors on rice paper. He revisits subjects where the calligraphic line becomes more and more obvious. Around 1955, he paints several self-portraits including Self-portrait with cat (above), using a style reminiscent of his participation as an actor in the touring shows of the Antique Drama group of the Sorbonne. He travels to Epidaure, in Greece where he plays the part of the Coryphée in Eschyles' the Persians. Nicole Marette, then wardrobe supervisor, nicknames him Ariel "the good genie, exuding generosity and consideration towards others". Jacques Lacarrière, later to author L'Été Grec (the Greek summer), is also part of the drama group. T'ang loves meeting people, he makes friends from all backgrounds, but never mixes them. His first French friend, Raymond Audy said of him that "he spent most of his time exercising his freedom."
(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 w o
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse forty-two"

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang.
They achieve harmony by combining these forces.

Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless,"
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.

For one gains by losing
And loses by gaining.

What others teach, I also teach; that is:
"A violent man will die a violent death!"
This will be the essence of my teaching.

— translation by GIA FU FENG

Qualities of those who follow Tao

Deng Ming-Dao has written a wonderful book that compliments the
"365 Tao Daily Meditations" text we have been reading for our daily thoughts. (hint: if you click on the link to 365 Tao, you can read my review at the bottom of the page!)

This book is entitled "Everyday Tao: Living With Balance and Harmony" and the following passage from this text is one of my favorite guides for daily living. Today I would like to add this to our readings:

Here are some of the special qualities of those who follow Tao:

SIMPLICITY: Those who follow Tao keep life simple. They conserve their energies; they are content with what they have. Since they don't hanker after the dazzling goals of others who are ambitious, they are able to maintain their equilibrium.

SENSITIVITY: Those who follow Tao are observant of others, avoid the aggressive, and help those in need. They love nature and spend time in the wilderness learning from the seasons, studying animals, and absorbing the lessons of nature's creativity. Nature is not wholly synonymous with Tao, but it is completely a part of Tao and thus a perfect way to glimpse Tao.

INDEPENDENCE: Those who follow Tao seldom care about society's dictates, fads, trends, political movements, or common morality. They find these too limited, too imperfect, and too petty. It is not that those who follow Tao are immoral. It is just that they act from a far more profound level of the spirit. For this reason, followers of Tao have often been accused of being dangerous both on religion and society. But those who follow Tao affirm wisdom and experience over government, conventional morality, and etiquette.

FOCUSED: Those who follow Tao learn an inner direction in their lives. They accept who they are, and they first ascertain and then accept the details of their lives. They take advantage of who they are and do not try to be someone they are not. The accept that they were born, they accept that they will die, and they take the distance traveled between those two points as their personal path. They accept that each stage of their lives has certain advantages and disadvantages, and they set out to work with the advantages.

CULTIVATED: Since a life of Tao is one of simplicity, observation, and action, people strive to refine themselves in order to follow Tao more perfectly.

DISCIPLINED: Those who follow Tao are disciplined. This discipline is not a harsh structure imposed upon one's personality, but the taking of orderly actions toward specific goals. This requires concentration of the highest order.

JOYOUS: Once one gains Tao, there is absolutely no doubt about it. It is like seeing a god, or paradise; no matter what anyone says or does, the experience cannot be erased. So too is it with those who have seen Tao and who live within its flow: They have a joyous sense of the deepest sustenance. They feel directly connected with the source of life. They do not fear loneliness, because Tao surrounds them constantly. They do not fear death, because they know in Tao there is no death."

— Deng Ming-Dao "Everyday Tao: Living With Balance And Harmony"
©1996 Deng Ming-Dao

a reading list of books and interpretations of the
Daodejing is available at
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’subscribe tao’ in the subject line and send to lisbeth at duckdaotsu

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