dao acceptance

Chinese characters for "acceptance"

beautiful Kali

Drought burns basins to dust,
Light rain is a dew of mockery.
Receive without complaint,
Work with fate.

When the countryside is gripped in drought, it is useless to complain. Even when light rains fail to moisten the parched landscape, we should accept what happens. This is the way of Tao, and one who follows Tao accepts what comes.

We may have ambitions to move in one direction, but Tao will decide otherwise. We may have plans for the future, but Tao will bend time differently. There are those who will cry out in anger and frustration, but the followers of Tao remains silent and goes about the business of preparation.

Acceptance does not mean fatalism. It does not mean capitulation to some slaughtering predestination. Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless. They believe in acting within the framework of circumstance. For example, in a drought, they will prepare by storing what water is available. That is sensible action. The will not plant a garden of flowers that requires a great deal of water. That is ignorance and egotism.

Acceptance is a dynamic act. It should not signal inertness, stagnation, or inactivity. Once should simply ascertain what the situation requires and then implement what one thinks is best. As long as one’s deeds are in accord with the time and one leaves no sloppy traces, then the action is correct.

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

Kali as the Supreme Deity
India (Himachal Pradesh, Chamba?)
Ca. 1800
Pigments on paper
6 7/8 x 10 7/8 in (17.4 x 27.6 cm)

This is a remarkable picture in that it not only unambiguously demonstrates the supremacy of the goddess Kali but gives an unusual form of the deity. She is seated on a throne in a flowering green meadow. In the foreground flows the river Ganga, which descends from the hair of Shiva, who forms one leg of the golden throne. Wearing a snake as a necklace, Shiva sits on an elephant skin. The other three legs of the throne are formed by the figures of Vishnu with his usual attributes, the four-headed Brahma, and Indra, with multiple eyes on his body. Thus there is no doubt about who is in control.

The goddess herself shows some unusual features. She is, of course, black like Kali but not beautiful. Her large, pendulous breasts, her distinctive Afro hairdo, the tiny eyes, and the white crescent moon outlining her face distinguish her from standard forms of Kali. She also wears a yellow dhoti.

However, like Kali she wears a garland of severed heads and has four arms with the same attributes, although they are disposed in the reverse order. The severed head is in the upper right and the sword in the lower, while the upper left hand exhibits the gesture of charity and the lower that of assurance. At first sight, the posture of the goddess seems unusual, but, in fact, it is the classic position for giving birth and is encountered in early Indian art in images of other iconographic forms of goddesses both in India and Nepal. It is also the posture in which Kali sometimes straddles Shiva, when he is supposed to be a corpse (sava), the appropriate seat (asana) in heroic (virachara) tantric praxis.

all text and images © The Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore

Chinese characters for huahujing

attributed to Laotsu

Every departure from the Tao contaminates one's spirit.
Anger is a departure, resistance a departure, self- absorption a departure.

Over many lifetimes the burden of contaminations can become great. There is only one way to cleanse oneself of these
contaminations, and that is to practice virtue. What is meant by

To practice virtue is to selflessly offer assistance to others, giving without limitation one's time, abilities, and possessions in service, whenever and wherever needed, without prejudice concerning the identity of those in need.

If your willingness to give blessings is limited, so also is your ability to receive them. This is the subtle operation of the Tao.

— Edited by Brian Walker

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