dao marriage

Chinese characters for "marriage"

young woman sits in chair, hand over right eye two fingers

Wall of flames, bridge of tears.
Snowflake on newly forged links.

For a marriage to last, a couple must go through great travails and hardships. It is like a process of forging steel links together. The iron must be heated to a high degree and then plunged into cold water. A marriage alternates between the heat of passion and love and the chilling times of tragedy, conflict, and adversity. An enduring marriage becomes like tempered steel.

It is difficult to go through life alone. We all need support and the sense of belonging that comes from working toward goals shared with another. For such a relationship to work, there must be a basic compatibility of values, outlook, and purpose. It is an inadequate cliche that spouses must be friends as well as lovers. Two mates can know a loyalty found in no other type of relationship. Yet even in the face of such strength, Tao reminds us of the need for moderation.

Ultimately, all relationships are temporary. False attachment to another can become an addiction, a voluntary bondage detrimental to clear perception. We should no bind another to ourselves, should not define ourselves by our marriage, should not force another to stay with us. But if chance allows us to walk together, who is anyone to challenge our choice of walking companions?

When it is time to part, then it is time to part. There should be no regrets. The beauty of marriage is like the fleeting perfection of a snowflake.


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

"Instantaneous Static"
Yang Feiyun 1990
Oil on canvas 34" x 30"


Yang Feiyun was born in 1954 in Baoton, Innermongolia. Yang came to Beijing to study art and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. He then became a lecturer in the Department of Design at the Central Academy of Drama. In 1984 he was appointed lecturer in the Oil Painting department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and is currently an Associate Professor there. Since the 1980s he has also traveled extensively showing his work in over twenty exhibitions world-wide including; the "Japan Exhibition of Asian Art," Bangladesh, 1986," the "Invitational Exhibition of Eight Famous Artists," Guilin, 1987, "Contemporary Oil Paintings from the People's Republic of China," Harkness House, New York, 1987, the "Seventh National Fine Arts Exhibition, Beijing," 1989 and the "'91 Biennial of Chinese Oil Painting." In addition to winning numerous awards, his paintings are included in the collections of the Chinese National Gallery and the Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, as well as the Fushan Museum, Japan.

Stanford Studies on Daoism

Definition of "Daoism"

"Daoist" religious groups (often rebellious or millenarian movements) emerged in varied forms in each dynasty. Because of its "naturalistic" and anti-authoritarian ethos, the term could encompass virtually any "local" religion with its familiar natural "Gods." The result is that Daoism an essentially malleable concept. Creel's famous question "What is Taoism?" remains as difficult as ever.

We will not attempt to settle that larger controversy, but will focus on the less controversial contrast between philosophical and religious Daoism. Even focusing only on philosophical Daoism invites enough controversy. Those who speak of it often identify Daoist philosophy with metaphysical monism or mysticism and contrast that with practical or political thought. For our purposes, we will refer to Daoist philosophy using our own distinction between ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ and use ‘philosophy’ to embrace both metaphysics and ethical-political thought particularly when marked by second-level reflection -- thinking about thinking.

Although we treat Laozi and Zhuangzi as the exemplars of ‘Daoism,’ the use of Lao-Zhuang to identify a strain of thought may have become common only as late as Neo-Daoism. Not only is it true that "Zhuangzi never knew he was a Daoist", he also didn't know he was "following" Laozi. The reasons for denying that Zhuangzi had heard of Laozi or the Daode Jing are stronger than for believing it. However, albeit without the name, writers responsible for later chapters of the Zhuangzi itself recognized an affinity between the two texts. A large chunk of the "outer" chapters use the character of Laozi as spokesman and often echo the style and attitudes of (though not quotations from) the Daode Jing. Common themes, tropes and modes of expression seem to link the authors of the outer chapters with Daode Jing. One plausible speculation is that anonymous students of the Zhuangzi, working after his death, were "developing" the text while in contact with the group anonymously composing the Daode Jing. They shaped each other's themes, expressions and ideas.

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