Tao Thought: Austerities and daodejing 66


Self-discipline leads to higher spiritual states
Only if practiced with understanding.
The clearer the goal,
The greater the result.

We must distinguish between discipline with a purpose and blind discipline. Discipline with a purpose is merely a means to an end and is healthy. Blind discipline does not have a true purpose and so becomes fanaticism. In the past, there were many spiritual people who believed in harsh asceticism. They would flog themselves, live in cold and damp caves, twist themselves into uncomfortable postures, fast for dangerous periods of time. All too often, these people lost sight of their goals. We must be strongly disciplined, but we must not lose sight of our inner meaning.

Austere living with a clear understanding of why and how we are doing things does not require esoteric practices. Few of us mind going through extra effort and even hardship if we know that we will gain something better for it. That is all that discipline and austerity are about : You make extra efforts to gain a better life.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations

Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Tao Te Ching translated by current scholars


The reason the sea can govern a hundred rivers
is because it has mastered being lower
thus it can govern a hundred rivers

Thus if the sage would be above the people
he should speak as if he were below them
if he would be before them
he should act as though he were behind them

Thus when the sage is above
the people are not burdened
when he is in front
the people are not hindered
the world never wearies of pushing him forward

Because he doesn't struggle
no one can struggle against him



The sea is king of the valleys and streams
because it is willing to be beneath them.

One who wishes to guide the people
should be humble in her speech toward them.
One who wishes to lead the people
must learn the art of following them.

The sage is above the people,
but they don't feel her weight.
She stays ahead of the people,
and no harm comes to them.
She has the affection of the whole world.

Because she contends with no one,
no one can contend with her.



All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.

If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.

The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.


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from the archives: Iraq suspects suffocate in heat

Iraq suspects suffocate in heat

Nine building workers have died in Iraq after being arrested on suspicion of insurgent activity and then left in a closed metal container.

Three men survived the ordeal, police sources said, despite being left for 14 hours in the burning Iraqi summer heat.

They had apparently been caught up in a firefight between US troops and Iraqi gunmen, and were detained after takng an injured colleague to hospital.

Police commandos face numerous claims that they abuse and torture detainees.

Meanwhile, gunmen have attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint north of Baghdad, killing at least nine soldiers.

Scorching heat

Police sources told the BBC that at least 12 men had been arrested on Sunday after they had taken a colleague to hospital in Ameriya with gunshot wounds.

A local resident, thinking they were insurgents, called the police, who sent commandos to arrest the men.

At about midday, they were put into a metal container and by nightfall eight prisoners were dead and three were in a critical condition.

The survivors were taken to a central Baghdad hospital where staff said a ninth man died.

The Iraqi capital suffers scorching heat during the summer months, with temperatures often reaching 50 degrees.

A doctor told the BBC that one of the survivors had said he had been given repeated electric shocks by the commandos.

The survivors were kept under police guard as they were treated and were taken away without being allowed to speak to journalists.

Recent UK press reports have alleged police commandos systematically torture and abuse detainees. The security forces themselves are the target of much of Iraq's insurgency violence.

from the archives: The Viet Nam War Ruined My Life

"Comparing the two wars, I see the Vietnam BFM as having a confusing, hard to explain purpose. If there was a moral justification for that war, it has escaped me. The Iraq BFM has to be seen as immoral. America has gained nothing by being there. We have found no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear warheads, and no evidence to tie Hussein with Bin Laden.

We have alienated many of our allies and have lost the respect of much of the world. We are seen as bullies who could not get the real terrorists who attacked us so we started a war with a country that our president decided was just loaded with bad guys. I recently read the study that indicates the Iraq War is responsible for killing over 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens.

That’s 100,000 deaths in addition to the enemy death count. So I’m wondering where the high moral values are in a commander-in-chief who can show his smug face in public knowing his war actions have killed so many innocent lives."

continue reading - > duckdaotsu media arts: The Viet Nam War Ruined My Life:

Miles Woolley is a disabled Vietnam veteran living in Miami, Florida. He served with the 9th Infantry Division in The Mekong Delta in a Ranger unit doing reconnaissance 1968–69 where he received a gunshot wound to the head leaving one side severely paralyzed. He is a father of four grown children and grandfather of seven, including a set of triplets.

from the archives: An interview with Peace Grandma, Rosemarie Jackowski-"Silence is the greatest of all crimes"

”Silence is the greatest of all crimes”
An interview with Peace Grandma, Rosemarie Jackowski
By Mickey Z.

I've been extremely fortunate to attract an amazing mix of visitors to my blog...

...a crew self-dubbed 'The Expendables.' The matriarch of the Expendables is one Rosemarie Jackowski, a 67-year-old grandmother/veteran/writer from Vermont currently facing jail time for participating in an anti-war demonstration in 2003. Her journey from flag-waver to rabble-rouser is a palpable source of inspiration and an excellent illustration of the motivating power of example. When, in a recent e-mail, I wrote to her: 'you rock,' this was Rosemarie's reply: 'Hearing that from you has made my day. Those were the words that my daughter, Christine, said to me after I was arrested. They were very special words that day because she, not too long before, had married into a Republican-type family. She means the world to me and, at the time of my arrest, I was not 100% sure of her reaction.'

I interviewed Rosemarie via e-mail on October 23, 2005."

continue here -> duckdaotsu media arts: Silence is the greatest of all crimes:

from the archives: Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian

duckdaotsu media arts: Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian

Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian


Gore Vidal remains one of the more prolific contemporary American writers and certainly one of the most politically outspoken. Shortly after his recent 80th-birthday celebration, Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper interviewed him in his Hollywood home. Herewith, a condensed version of that conversation. . --The Editors

Tao thought: Nonyielding and daodejing Verse 65


When in the arena,
Yield not to an aggressor.
When outside the arena,
Affirm compassion.

This world and this society are competitive. Tao uses the metaphor of the warrior to meet that competition. Warriors never yield to their opponents. They may sidestep, but they do not give way.

Whether you are a lawyer, police officer, fire fighter, doctor, businessperson, athlete, or any one of numerous other professions, you compete against either other people or natural forces. But there is a right way and a wrong way to compete. Avoid anger and greed. Use concentration and awareness.

Coincidentally, concentration and awareness are also necessary for spirituality. That is why the follower of Tao incorporates the way of the warrior into training. The warrior and the sage both seek to transcend emotion and petty thinking, to perfect themselves, and to live lives of the deepest truth.

But when outside the arena, do not forget to be kind. Leave behind competitive aggression. You must still have awareness, concentration, and reflex, but the expression will be different. Your compassion must not falter. That is why the combination of the way of the warrior with the way of Tao is the ultimate symbol of versatility. Such a follower of Tao commands the extremes of the universe.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations

Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Tao Te Ching Translated by various current scholars


The ancient masters of the Way
tried not to enlighten
but to keep men in the dark

What makes the people hard to rule is knowledge
who rules the realm with knowledge spreads evil in the realm
who rules without knowledge spreads virtue in the realm

Who understands these two
understands the universal key
this is called Dark Virtue

Dark Virtue goes deep
goes far
goes the other way
until it reaches perfect harmony



In ancient times those who practiced Tao
didn't want to enlighten people,
but to keep them natural and simple.

When cleverness and intellect abound,
people don't do well.
A leader who governs with cleverness
cheats his people.
A leader who governs with simplicity
is a blessing to his people.

These are the two alternatives.
Understanding them is subtle insight.

The use of subtle insight
brings all things back into the oneness.



The ancient Masters
didn't try to educate the people,
but kindly taught them to not-know.

When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don't know,
people can find their own way.

If you want to learn how to govern,
avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people the way
back to their own true nature.




Facing blank paper
is an artist's terror.

When an artist creates, he or she is like a shaman. Inspiration comes as a gift. Those who follow Tao are the same. Their awareness is not something they have cleverly formulated, nor is it something that they possess. Tao comes to them like a gift. That is why the arts and Tao are so closely allied. The act of receiving and expressing is the same.

Just as an artist dreads not being able to make art, so too does one who follows Tao dread not feeling Tao.

There are many times when we are called upon to be creative; an athlete on the field, a lecturer before an audience, a musician on stage, a cook at the stove, a parent with a child. How do we keep the channel open? Some people try by maintaining tidy and regular lives, others by being constantly active. We are all different, and there is no right or wrong. The only thing that counts is feeling Tao in your own life and
maintaining that feeling as much of the time as possible. If you find those special things that are latent in you and learn to express them, then you will know Tao.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations

Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Tao Te Ching Translated by current scholars


It's easy to rule while it's peaceful
it's east to plan before it arrive
it's easy to break while it's fragile
it's easy to disperse while it's small

Act before it exists
govern before it rebels

As giant tree grows from the tiniest shoot
a great tower rises from a basket of dirt
a thousand mile journey begins at your feet

But to act is to fail
to control is to lose
therefore the sage doesn't act
he thus doesn't fail
he doesn't control he thus doesn't lose

When people pursue a task
they always fail near the end
care at the end as well as the start
means an end to failure

The sage thus seeks what no one seeks
he doesn't prize hard to-get-goods
he studies what no one studies
he turns to what others pass by
to help all things
be natural
he thus dares not act



What has equilibrium is easy to maintain.
What hasn't begun is easy to plan.
What is fragile is easy to shatter.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Deal with things before they arise.
Cultivate order before confusion sets in.

The tallest tree springs from a tiny shoot.
The tallest tower is built from a pile of dirt.
A journey of a thousand miles begins at your feet.

Interfere with things,
and you'll be defeated by them.
Hold on to things, and you'll lose them.
The sage doesn't interfere, so he doesn't fail;
doesn't hold on, so he doesn't lose.

Because projects often come to ruin
just before completion,
he takes as much care at the end
as he did at the beginning,
and thereby succeeds.

His only desire is to be free of desire.
Fancying nothing, learning not to know,
electing not to interfere,
he helps all beings become themselves.



What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.

The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.

What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.


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Tao Thought: Site and daodejing verse sixty-three


Desert: visions.
Tropics: possession.
Forests: alchemy.
Mountains: asceticism.

Throughout the world, the site where people practiced spirituality has been significant. In the deserts of the Middle East, holy people had visions. In the tropics, sorcerers used spirit possession. In the forests of Europe and Asia, alchemists perfected their arts. In the Himalayas, sages hid themselves away for ascetic practices. Of course, these were not the only places for such arts, but it is more than coincidental that certain practices are tied to the place. If you go to any of these lands, you can still feel the essence that inspired generations.

Thus it is that you should be sensitive to where you situate yourself in the world. Selecting a spiritual site requires subtlety. If you do not know the science of geomancy, it is better to go to a place known to be conducive to what you want to achieve. Then narrow your choice by what you see and feel. If you sense that there is great well-being, that the plants and animals of the area are healthy, that the place is not subject to extremes of weather that would adversely affect your health, then that is the place for you. When you move there, you will be sustained.

No site is forever. If you find that the flow of energy has gone elsewhere or that others begin to ruin an area, then search for a new place of vitality. That is why those who follow Tao seldom have fixed homes. They wander from site to site so as to constantly remain in the stream of Tao.

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

translations of the daodejing by various current scholars

Act without acting
work without working
taste without tasting

Great or small
many or few
repay each wrong with virtue

Plan for the hard while it's easy
work on the great while it's small

The hardest task in the world begins easy
the greatest goal in the world begins small

Therefore the sage never acts great
he thus achieves great things

Who quickly agrees is seldom trusted
who makes it all easy finds it all hard

Therefore the sage makes everything hard
he thus finds nothing hard



Act by not acting,
accomplish by not straining,
understand by not knowing.

Regard the humble as exalted
and the exalted as humble.
Remedy injury with tranquil repair.

Meet the difficult while it is still easy;
cross the universe one step at a time.

Because the sage doesn't try anything too big,
she's able to accomplish big things.

Those who commit lightly seldom come through.
Those who think everything is easy
will find everything hard.

The sage understands that everything is difficult,
and thus in the end has no difficulties.



Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.


photo by lmw
"Firework Stand in Wyoming"