dao sorrow

Chinese for "sorrow"

full shot of prayer wheel, design intricate

Rain scatters plum petals;
Weeping stains the earth.
One can only take shelter
And wait for clearing.

When sorrow comes, its bitterness soaks everything. The sages say that life is illusion, but does that change its poignancy? Let us be sad; it is feeling that makes us human. If we gain enlightenment, understanding all life to be a dream, sadness and happiness will fall away soon enough.

The greatest sorrow of life is witnessing. Experiencing our own sufferings is not as difficult as watching others held in fate’s mighty grip. Bearing our own problems is easier because we are always aware that we can exercise other options—up to the final one. However, it hurts the most when we can do nothing for others. The greatest sorrow is to see those we love suffer helplessly.

When faced with a sad situation,, it is best not to languish in it. We can change things by being with different people, moving to other places, or, if all else fails, adjusting our own attitudes to take the initiative. Sadness is transitory, like everything else. If we want to deflect it, we need only alter its context and allow it to be subsumed back into Tao.

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

Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World

Prayer Wheel
Tibet, 19th Century
Tibet Museum
Photo Courtesy of Bowers Museum

The beauty of this prayer wheel — with its delicately carved decoration and slender ivory handle — suggests an important owner, most likely one of the Dalai Lamas. The gilt silver cylinder once held thousands of individual inscriptions, each a mantra written in the tiniest of letters. The mediator held the prayer wheel, and during countless rotations of the wheel, repeatedly changed the mantra. In this way, he sent out thousands of prayers each calling for universal compassion for all living beings.
detail view of inscriptions

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao
t h i r t y

tao 30

Whenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao,
Counsel him not to use force
to conquer the universe.
For this would only cause resistance.
Thorn bushes spring up
wherever the army has passed.
Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.
Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.

Achieve results,
But never glory in them.
Achieve results,
But never boast.
Achieve results,
But never be proud.
Achieve results,
Because this is the natural way.
Achieve results,
But not through violence.

Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of Tao.
That which goes against the Tao
comes to an early end.

— translation is by Gia-Fu Feng

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