dao parting

Chinese for "parting"

wonderful! elephants with babies visible inside, meeting trunks, ridden by man and woman

You and I assumed forever
When we became companions.
But now, unhappy, you are leaving
The sky turns to bitter candescence
Unslaked by resignation.

There are times when we have been lucky enough to have companions on our spiritual path, but the time of parting often comes without welcome. When our friends decide to leave, we are often left with doubt, confusion, and sometimes guilt. Anyone may leave the path. They won’t suffer damnation; they will only walk a different path.

The rule for those who follow Tao is this: Walk the path together as long as you can, and when you must part, never hold your companion back.

Should one seek to have no feelings at all regarding friends? After all, the sages constantly warn against attachment. Yet emotion is part of what makes us human. We may understand philosophically why a companion must leave, but we need not deny our feelings as we walk on alone.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

There was by then a strong core of women, most of whom were illiterate, and who had never taken part in any kind of organization. They loved coming to the "office" in Janakpur, a comfortable and supportive environment with women of many backgrounds, free from the constraints of the village. Through being associated with a development project they were soon making paintings promoting Vitamin A, the chance to vote, safe sex and saying "no" to drugs. Proud of their traditional culture, they continued to illustrate Maithil rituals or to make paintings of gods Ram and Sita who, according to legend, married in Janakpur. And in the "office" where they sang songs or told tales of the Hindu gods, they naturally painted scenes from the Ramayana or from Maithil songs and folktales. Many women have enjoyed painting the Maithil tale of Anjur, a tale in which a new bride is made to do impossible tasks by her jealous sisters-in-law, and each time is helped by sympathetic birds or snakes. They often mix images of other tales with Anjur's tale, and similarly Gods will appear in scenes of family planning. This mixing of themes is a reflection of the real world of the Janakpur artists today.

this painting is called "two pregnant elephants"

Chinese for "pregnant elephant"

the artist: Indrakala Karnaphoto of artist Indrakala_Karna
My father worked in Nepal but I was raised in a village in India. I only saw him two days a year. We were 6 brothers and 3 sisters. My father only had enough money to educate the boys. We three sisters did all the cooking and cleaning, and in our spare time made mats, baskets, mud shelves, stoves and grain containers. We ground flour with a wheel and passed much of the day husking rice with a traditional "deki." With my sisters-in-law I also learned how to make the traditional designs our caste makes for marriages. I loved learning Maithili songs. I only learned to write letters with mud on the wall, and then I'd try to make whole words from the songs. My sisters-in-law corrected my spelling and let me copy songs from their songbooks. In this way I learned to read and write. The men in my family arranged my marriage. My brother and my husband's brother both met before a priest and lifted a metal vessel (lota) together, then they hugged each other. This ritual meant I could never marry anyone else. On that same day the husband's family took my dowry. I was seventeen.

My husband earned money from our land. For whatever we needed-- such as pencils and slate for our children in school--we sold rice. After 18 years my husband died. He used to drink a lot and then he grew ill. He was never a great husband. He cursed and beat me because he questioned what I knew, even though he didn't know too much. I knew how to feed guests, but he questioned me and beat me. Heíd tell the children to study but if they made a mistake, he would tear up their books. So after he died some of his family gave me some help, but mainly I supported myself by hand rolling cigarettes for sale in a local shop. Two years later, work came to me to make the traditional paintings of my caste. Now my life is very different. My only worry is how to marry my son with a good girl.
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 - t h r e e
Chinese characters for "daodejing verse fifty-three"

If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear
will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be sidetracked.

When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.
— translation by GIA-FU FENG

The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.

When rich speculators prosper
While farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn —
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.

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
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Daodejing is available at
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