dao attunement


Chinese for "in tune with"

beautiful Indian artwork fish brown, beige, continuing pattern

Traversing sun leads to a new season,
Vernal breath attunes the leaves.

Tao is here. It is we who are not always in harmony with it.

Tao proceeds on its own way. It is we who are not ready to follow.

Tao is absolutely sure in its movement. It is we who involve ourselves in amusements.

Tao has no consciousness, yet it is supreme. It is we who think compulsively.

Therefore, turning ourselves to Tao is the basic task. We must make ourselves the perfect instrument, much in the way a beautiful harp has all its strings adjusted. Once we are attuned, we can become open to Tao. Where it leads, we follow without hesitation. Just as the musician expresses individual talent and understanding and yet blends with the swelling magnificence of the orchestra, so too does the follower of Tao remain human and yet in harmony with the universal.

When the sun begins its new pattern, spring follows. The air warms, and the world rejoices. A new breath comes over all thing,s and even the trembling leaves are attuned to the vernal rhythm. Turn your face to the sun, as flowers know how to do. Turn your face to Tao, as we should all do.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN 0-06-250223-9
Janakpur is now famous for its colorful paintings on paper, yet this "tradition" began in the first days of the JWDC when, under a grant from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, a talented group of women were selected to learn how to transfer their wall designs to paper. They traveled from their villages to the Center in Janakpur where, without losing their originality, they developed skills in composition as well as in the use of color and line. After various experiments, it was decided to paint on Nepali handmade lokta (daphne) paper which had the rough texture of mud walls. Then, after trying pens and sticks, the women decided on brushes, and after experimenting with their own dyes and pigments which they mixed with milk, they found that acrylic paint worked best on Nepali paper and could be used as spontaneously as the dyes and home-made paints applied to house walls. And so it was that the JWDC created both the form and medium of what is known today as "Janakpur painting".

The first show of the artists' works on paper was held in 1990 at the American Library in Kathmandu. It was just after the People's Movement which established democracy in Nepal, and with the new democratic spirit this first show of Maithil art from southern Nepal received warm welcome. The artists gained support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women, as well as other donor agencies, and both their organization and their art began to flourish.

this painting is called "four camels" Chinese characters for "four camels" four camels in Arabic language

photo of artist Gangawati Das

the artist: Gangawati Das

My mother didn't love my father because he didn't give her enough to eat. Since she was unhappy, people told her to leave and then my father would call her back. But no one came for her, and so it was my father's sister who raised me.

I was married when I was about sixteen, and have had six children. Now I am thirty-five and we live with my husband's family, twenty-two people in all. I used to cut grass and harvest rice, but now my husband does this work while I support the family by making paintings at the Center. It was from my father's sister that I learned to make paintings of parrots, horses, minahs and camels.

I like to paint elephants, camels and horses-what you used to see when there was a wedding. Lots of people from the groom's side would ride on top of these animals on their way to the bride's house. I also paint airplanes. Each day an airplane flies low over our Center. I've never been inside a plane but seeing one each day made me imagine what it is like to sit inside and fly.

all text and images © JWDC

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
f i f t y - two
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse fifty-one"

The beginning of the universe
Is the mother of all things.
Knowing the mother, on also knows the sons.
Knowing the sons, yet remaining in touch with the mother,
Brings freedom from the fear of death.

Keep your mouth shut,
Guard the senses,
And life is ever full.
Open your mouth,
Always be busy,
And life is beyond hope.

Seeing the small is insight;
Yielding to force is strength.
Using the outer light, return to insight,
And in this way be saved from harm.
This is learning constancy.
— translation by GIA-FU FENG

In the beginning was the Tao.
All things issue from it;
all things return to it.

To find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
When you recognize the children
and find the mother,
you will be free of sorrow.

If you close your mind in judgments
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren't led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.

Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.
— translation by STEVEN MITCHELL
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

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