dao ascent

Chinese for "ascent"

top of roof showing wheel and two deer beside it, gold in color ... bright blue sky and sloping hillls behind

Chill morning, stone steps,
The path to the temple is steep.
We may stumble at times,
But we must always get up again.

Spiritual cultivation is a daily activity. No matter how much we achieve one day, we must continue the next. Progress is often so subtle that we may feel the effort futile, and it is hard to get up each morning and try again with the same enthusiasm. Yet this is precisely what we must do.

If we have the benefit of guidance, talent, and the proper circumstances, then the bulk of our attention has to be paid to such a simple day-to-day effort. No person ever leapt to heaven in one bound. Spirituality is achieved by steady climbing, like a difficult journey to a mountain temple. The number of steps is in the thousands; the way is steep. It takes a long time to get there, and we must content ourselves with the panoramas along the way and think that the view at the summit will be best of all. If we fall, we must pick ourselves up and get back on the trail again.

Success in spiritual life is measured not by spectacular events but by daily devotion. This iron will, this deep sincerity maintains our ascent.

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

Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World

The Wheel of Dharma

This sacred symbol sits on top of the Jokhand Temple. The wheel has eight spikes, symbolizing the noble path, and the eight teachings of Buddhism.

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
t h i r t y - f o u r

tao 34

The great Tao flows everywhere,
both to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it;
it holds nothing back.
It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim.

It nourishes the ten thousand things,
And yet is not their lord.
It has no aim; it is very small.

The ten thousand things return to it,
Yet it is not their lord.
It is very great.

It does not show greatness,
And is therefore truly great.

translation by GIA-FU FENG

The great Tao flows everywhere.
All things are born from it,
yet it doesn't create them.
It pours itself into its work,
yet it makes no claim.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't hold on to them.

Since it is merged with all things
and hidden in their hearts,
it can be called humble.
Since all things vanish into it
and it alone endures,
it can be called great.
It isn't aware of its greatness;
thus it is truly great.

—translation by STEVEN MITCHELL

The Way flows and ebbs,
creating and destroying,
Implementing all the world,
attending to the tiniest details,
Claiming nothing in return.
It nurtures all things,
Though it does not control them;
It has no intention,
So it seems inconsequential.
It is the substance of all things;
Though it does not control them;
It has no exception,
So it seems all-important.
The sage would not control the world;
He is in harmony with the world.

—translation by P. MEREL

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