dao withdrawal

Chinese characters for "withdrawal"

statue of two figures, Shiva and Uma, description in full below

Activity is essential, but exhausting,
And its importance is only on the surface.
Withdraw into Tao at the end of the day.
Returning is renewal.

Each day is filled with activity. We rush around from meeting to meeting; we make all sorts of arrangements for the future. Such doings are important, but they are not all that there is in life. Even as we engage in them, we must remember that all human endeavors are temporary and provisional.

We cannot allow our accomplishments to divorce us from what is actually happening in the world. It is imperative that we withdraw to reflect upon the day’s events and collect ourselves for the continuation of our path. There is no need to go to a temple, a sacred spot, or a special room. We do not need elaborate ritual. All we need is a simple and natural turning within.

This is why followers of Tao always use the word returning. They recognize the necessity of activity in life, but they also recognize the need to return to Tao. In Tao is the source of all things, and in the source one finds the renewal that one needs to go on with life. This back-and-forth movement between the source and the activity of life is the movement of all things.

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

Shiva and Uma
India (Tamil Nadu)
late 13th century
17 in (43.3 cm)

On a common rectangular pedestal, Shiva and Parvati (Uma) stand gracefully on separate circular bases meant to represent lotuses. The pedestal is embellished with moldings and has holes in the front and back and rings on the sides to secure it during processions. Despite the fact that they stand on separate bases, the couple’s intimate relationship is expressed by Shiva’s principal left arm, which embraces (alingana) Parvati and gently touches her left shoulder. This particular iconic type, which became popular for processional images during the late Chola period (ca. 907 -1053), is known in iconographic parlance as umasahita-chandrasekharamurti. The expression may be translated as “Image of the Moon-Crested One with Uma.” Because the crescent moon is lodged in his hair, Shiva is called Chandrashekhara, or “one whose crest is the moon.” When the two share one lotus base, the image is known as alingana-chandrasekharamurti, or the Embracing Moon-Crested God.

Except for the two additional arms and the third eye of Shiva, this could well be a mortal pair posing for a formal portrait. Of stocky proportion, both figures are robustly modeled. Due to gracefully swaying postures, the contours of their bodies dovetail beautifully to create a harmonious composition, emphasizing their unity. His hair is arranged into a tall chignon, while she wears a crown called karandamukuta. His normal right hand displays the gesture of reassurance and the other balances the battleaxe with two fingers; the upper left hand similarly holds the antelope. Her right hand once held a lotus, and left arm with an empty hand hangs down in a gesture known as lolahasta. As is usual with such processional bronzes, the figures are modeled completely in the round with a finished back, even though, swathed with cloth, it was never seen.

T A O t e C H I N G

hand drawn calligraphy of the word dao

S E V E N T Y - N I N E

Chinese characters for "daodejing verse seventy-nine"

After a bitter quarrel, some resentment must remain.
What can one do about it?
Therefore the sage keeps his half of the bargain
But does not exact his due.
A man of Virtue performs his part,
But a man without Virtue requires others to fulfill their obligations.
The Tao of heaven is impartial.
It stays with good men all the time.
— translation by GIA-FU FENG

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.
— translation by STEVEN MITCHELL

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