dao faith

Chinese characters for "faith"

goddess of compassion

In spite of knowing,
Yet still believing.
Though no god above,
Yet god within.

There is no god in the sense of a cosmic father or mother who will provide all things to their children. Nor is there some heavenly bureaucracy to petition. These models are not descriptions of a divine order, but are projections from archetypal templates. If we believe in the divine as cosmic family, we relegate ourselves to perpetual adolescence. If we regard the divine as supreme government, we are forever victims of unfathomable officialdom.

Yet it does not work for us to totally abandon faith. It does not follow that we can forego all belief in higher beings. We need faith, not because there are beings who will punish us or reward us, but because gods are wonderful ways of describing things that happen to us. They embody the highest aspects of human aspiration. Gods on the altars are essential metaphors for the human spiritual experience.

Faith shouldn't be shaken because bad things happen to us or because our loved ones are killed. Good and bad fortune are not in the hands of gods, so it is useless to blame them. Neither does faith need to be confirmed by some objective occurrence. Faith is self-affirming. If we maintain faith, then we have its reward. If we become better people, then our faith has results. It is we who create faith, and it is through our efforts that faith is validated.


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

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
South-central Tibet Ca. 1400
Gilt bronze with semiprecious stones
15 1/8 in (38.4 cm)

Originally, the figure would have stood on a lotus base. Clad in a dhoti and a sash and bedecked sumptuously with a profusion of semiprecious stones, the tall, slim figure stretches his right hand in the charity gesture, while the left appears as if grasping the stem of the lotus. In fact, the stem is attached to the upper arm and ends at the elbow. The lotus helps to identify the bodhisattva as Avalokiteshvara.

There seems no doubt that the figure represents the classic form for the deity favored by Newar sculptors. However, whether it was created in the Kathmandu Valley or in a Newar workshop is more difficult to ascertain. Generally, it is of the same generic type as the impressive bronze in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and a smaller example in a private collection. The V&A bronze was acquired from Shigatse but is considered to be a Nepali work. It could equally have been made in a Newar workshop in Shigatse. The Ford figure is not as robustly modeled as the V&A version, and clearly the sculptor has used different proportions, resulting in a more slender figure with long arms and legs. Similarly lissome proportions, especially of the legs and the spare frame, are found on other Tibetan figures as well. In fact, the latter figure, in the Nyingjei Lam Collection, described as a "long-limbed, slender youth with princely adornment," has features that are applicable to the Ford Avalokiteshvara as well. However, the tiara and the adornments of the Ford figure are even more luxuriant, with the colorful stone-encrusted lotus, turquoise-inlaid urna (rectangular also in the V&A and the Nyingjei Lam collection), and the tiara embellished with the auspicious face-of-glory (kirtimukha) motif.

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

Chinese characters for huahujing

attributed to Laotsu

Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
Go into the desert at night and took out at the stars.
This practice should answer the question.
The enlightened person settles her mind as the universe settles
the stars in the sky.
By connecting her mind with the subtle origin, she calms it.
Once calmed, it naturally expands, and ultimately her mind
becomes as vast and immeasurable as the night sky.

— Edited by Brian Walker

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1 comment:

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-Steven G. Erickson aka Vikingas