dao illumination

Chinese for "illumination"

abstract splash of color red and shades of autumn

Fire feeding on fire.

Everyone understands that burning wood produces fire. But when fire feeds on fire, that is a rare condition that yields the greatest illumination. Two flames come together and yield light more magnificent than either could have given forth alone.

In the case of community activity, this means that when one cooperates with others, the accomplishments are greater than what the individuals can do on their own. Such a situation requires a harmony that will generate ideas, inspiration, as well as momentum for growth and action. If the combinations occur properly, the results will be like fire upon fire and will illuminate the world.

Sometimes, the combination comes down to just two people. If two people join forces, neither sacrificing their individuality, but only lending their power to an endeavor, there will be a wonderful situation that will both benefit others and encourage greater growth in the two people as well.

Fire feeding on fire can also mean the swift exhaustion of all energies involved. One must be careful not to lose one’s own personality in any joining . The idea is integration, not assimilation. No matter what can be achieved in joining with others, it is wise to remember that we each walk this path independently. The ultimate truth of the journey and its final rewards are still for each of us to face alone.

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

signature of artist

Contrary to the generally held belief, Chinese painting has never ceased to evolve. At the various stages of its growth, individuality and respect for tradition acted together or in opposition to produce countless treasures and innovations. The example of T'ang Haywen, in the second half of the 20th century, illustrates this phenomenon particularly well. T'ang never received any formal education in art apart from learning calligraphy from his grandfather, T'ang Yien. In Paris, he acquainted himself with the work of western artists and chose to become a painter. Art was a way of life for him, not a career choice. Already faithful to tradition, his work bore the mark of true individual expression as well as a sincere detachment from material contingencies. His work revolved around landscapes as subjects and ink as his medium. T'ang assimilated the underlying principles of Chinese painting that had regarded ink as the paramount medium since the end of the 9th Century. Many terms describe the wide range of its applications: splashed ink, broken ink, po mo, which uses accents of darker ink to break the wash, cun, texturing brushstrokes, yi pin, unrestrained painting, da xieyi, expressionistic painting. Through constant experimentation in the medium, T'ang finds his own path through ink painting, developing a personal trait by defining a constant space for his pictorial expression. He painted in series, always using standard sizes of paper or cardboard surfaces. This allowed him to paint quickly and no longer concern himself with the issue of format. It also bestowed upon his work a unifying consistency at the same time as separating him from the painters of his generation.
(continued tomorrow)

T A O t e C H I N G
hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
t h i r t y - e i g h t

tao 38

A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.

A truly good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.

When a truly kind man does something,
he leaves nothing undone.
When a just man does something,
he leaves a great deal to be done.
When a disciplinarian does something
and no one responds,
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt
to enforce order.

Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty,
the beginning of confusion.
Knowledge of the future is only
a flowery trapping of Tao.
It is the beginning of folly.

Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real and not what is on the surface,
On the fruit and not the flower.
Therefore accept the one and reject the other.

— translation by GIA-FU FENG

The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

— translation by STEVEN MITCHELL

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