dao vulnerabilities

Chinese characters for "vulnerabilities"

young beautiful girl in distinctive dress and headwear, tribal

A warrior takes every person as an adversary.
He sees all their vulnerable points,
And trains to eliminate his own.
A sage has no vulnerable points.

A warrior takes everyone as a potential adversary. He assesses each person that he meets for their strengths and weaknesses, and he places himself strategically. No confrontation is ever a surprise. Protection, competition, honor, and righteousness are his principles.

He is the weapon. Therefore, a warrior trains body and mind to perfection. He knows that the average person as hundreds of points where death can enter. For himself, he seeks to eliminate as many of his own vulnerabilities as possible. In combat, he defends one or two points, and the rest of his attention is devoted to strategy and offense. Yet no warrior can eliminate all vulnerable points. Even for a champion, there is always at least one. Only the way of the sage eliminates all weaknesses.

It is said that the sage has no points for death to enter. This makes the sage, who is perfect in Tao, superior to the warrior, who is merely skilled in Tao. The warrior accepts death, but does not go beyond it. The sages goes beyond concepts of protection, completion, honor, and righteousness, and has no fear of death. The sage know that nothing dies, that life is mere illusion: Life is but one dream flowing into another.


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

Kuang Jian 2000
Oil on canvas 30" x 24"
Kuang Jian
Kuang Jian had long been curious about the minorities of the Pamir region in far Western China. He studied them in history books and when he was able to go there he found the people very calm and friendly and was attracted to them. He has used the young girl from "Sunshine of Pamir" in a few paintings and he especially liked her eyes and the way she seemed to look beyond any problems she might have. Her costume in this portrait is actually Han Chinese, not typically Pamir, but he liked the way she looked in it.

Inventory #: KJ-0006
© Kuang Jian lisenced one time use only

Stanford Studies on Daoism

Dao (Way, Guide, Road)
Is ‘speak’ the right way to translate these verbal uses of dao? It is in some ways too narrow and in others too broad. We can write, gesture, point, and exemplify as well as speak daos. On the other hand, not all speaking (writing etc.) is dao-ing -- particularly not if we think of language as describing, representing, picturing, expressing, defining, or "capturing" some reality. The Chinese verbal use, is more accurately translated normatively as "to guide" or to "recommend." The activity of dao-ing is primarily giving advice. To dao is to put guidance into language -- including body language.

Consider, again, the concrete translation for dao: ‘road’ or ‘path’. A woodsman with an ax daos when he chops bark from the trees as he enters the forest; He is dao-ing when "blazing" the trail. We must avoid regarding roads as simple natural objects -- they are, like the woodman's blazes, akin to texts that we "read" for guidance as we proceed on our way. Roads or paths are embodied in physical reality, but are not simply the reality. They are normative guides and "invitations" to "pass this way".

One feature that dao and speech share is the need for interpretation. But with dao the interpretation is in xing conduct, not in a theory or a belief. In this respect, the relevant notion of interpretation is the aesthetic one -- as when a conductor interprets a score or an actor a character in a play. A complete metaphysics of dao involves a distinction between normative way types and interpretive tokens . Daoist theory does so most dramatically with Shen Dao who focuses on the great way -- the actual history of the world past, present and future. That image draws our attention to a purely descriptive way -- a way that is not a way (not a guide).

To talk, however, about a way of interpreting a way, is to remind ourselves of Zhuangzi's point. That we can never make ways purely objective. In selecting it from the alternative "invitations" open to us, and then in interpreting in our actual "walking" we have relied on still some other dao from the one that has our attention. We forget we are in a sea of dao .

Besides the actual dao, we can speak of tian nature:sky ways that are also descriptive. We still presuppose dao in choosing not to "reform" or "compensate" for our nature (as we do in choosing to follow it). Whichever dao we rely on is, presumably, itself natural at least in the sense of being naturally available ways of choosing and interpreting -- as are all the real alternatives.

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