The accused stands helpless before the judge.
Pen is poised to determine right from wrong.
In one arbitrary stroke,
Life is suddenly decided.
Do judges have Tao? Dispassionate to the point of cruelty, making distinctions on the basis of arbitrary rules, can they be part of a humanistic view of Tao? The answer depends on context. If you are speaking of the Tao of nature-loving hermits, the answer is no: No one has the right to pass judgment on another. If you are speaking of society, however, those who follow Tao accept the necessity of set rules.
These laws are the Tao of the society. Once you are in the world of people and away from the world of nature, you are immersed in dualistic distinction. Then concepts such as righteousness and mercy have meaning. Judgment is the process of comparing ideas in order to find agreement or disagreement with the Tao of society. The facts must be thoroughly examined. Judges must clearly and wisely apply distinctions. That which agrees in the truth.
In the same way, we are all compelled to examine the ongoing circumstances of our lives. That is part of the responsibility of being human. Embracing Tao will not exempt you from the need to render judgments and make decisions. We are both the ultimate judge and the accused. When your final day comes, you yourself must be the examiner. Did you do well? Or did you squander your precious existence? You must decide.
Kuang Jian 1998
Oil on canvas 24" x 29"
Kuang Jian was born in 1961 in Hefei City, Anhui province. He began studying art privately in 1974 and in 1979 was accepted into the Academy of Arts of the People's Liberation Army, Beijing. Since his graduation in 1983 he has been an art director for the Army Day Movie Studio, Beijing. He was awarded the Bronze prize at the Seventh National Exhibition in 1989 and has participated in shows in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Germany. He currently resides in Beijing.
Inventory #: CC-0835
© The Hefner Collection lisenced one time use only