Daily Tao / 150 – Mercy

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Uphold precepts, but be merciful.
Gradually absorb, until there is no need for law.
Gain wisdom beyond right and wrong.

There was a young priest who returned to the community of his birth. Instead of the neighborhood he knew as a boy, the community was now predominantly homosexual. He was uncertain : On one hand, he had to serve the people. On the other hand, his sect forbade homosexuality and condemned it as a grave wrong. It would seem that whatever he did, he would be a hypocrite. He eventually decided to accept all who came to him but still uphold the doctrines of his sect. He saw his most important duty as mercy, and so he was able to help others without truly violating his precepts. When there are contradictions between beliefs, one must resolve them in favor of what one judges to be the higher principle.

We should not sell our ideals short for the sake of expediency or selfishness. Following a particular spiritual tradition means a full commitment to its rules in order to gain the essence of that tradition. But we cannot afford to be dogmatic. Human law is imperfect : There will always be unprecedented circumstances. Thus, we must go beyond rules and operate instead from pure wisdom. We must act with experience, flexibility, and insight. Let us so absorb integrity — experiencing both its triumphs and defeats — that we do the right thing intuitively.

Tradition is first. Mercy is greater than tradition. Wisdom is greater than mercy.

 


Daily Tao / 188 – Caring

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Don’t go out looking for good deeds to do,
But if one comes your way, do not refuse.
If you meet someone who is suffering,
You must help them.

What good is self-cultivation and wisdom if you just keep it for yourself? Knowledge is meant to be used, and if you can use it on behalf of others, you should.

There was once a man who prayed daily to a particular god among many in the temple. Eventually, he noticed that the incense he lit drifted over all — other gods were getting the benefit of his efforts! He built a paper cone over the incense burner so that all the smoke would be directed right at the nose of his god. Unfortunately, this turned the face of his god black with soot.

Those who follow Tao believe in using sixteen attributes on behalf of others : mercy, gentleness, patience, nonattachment, control, skill, joy, spiritual love, humility, reflection, restfulness, seriousness, effort, controlled emotion, magnanimity, and concentration. Whenever you need to help another, draw upon these qualities. Notice that self-sacrifice is not included in this list. You do not need to destroy yourself to help another. Your overall obligation is to complete your own journey along your personal Tao. As long as you can offer solace to others on your same path, you have done the best that you can.

Daily Tao / 150 – Mercy

castro-street-4

Uphold precepts, but be merciful.
Gradually absorb, until there is no need for law.
Gain wisdom beyond right and wrong.

There was a young priest who returned to the community of his birth. Instead of the neighborhood he knew as a boy, the community was now predominantly homosexual. He was uncertain : On one hand, he had to serve the people. On the other hand, his sect forbade homosexuality and condemned it as a grave wrong. It would seem that whatever he did, he would be a hypocrite. He eventually decided to accept all who came to him but still uphold the doctrines of his sect. He saw his most important duty as mercy, and so he was able to help others without truly violating his precepts. When there are contradictions between beliefs, one must resolve them in favor of what one judges to be the higher principle.

We should not sell our ideals short for the sake of expediency or selfishness. Following a particular spiritual tradition means a full commitment to its rules in order to gain the essence of that tradition. But we cannot afford to be dogmatic. Human law is imperfect : There will always be unprecedented circumstances. Thus, we must go beyond rules and operate instead from pure wisdom. We must act with experience, flexibility, and insight. Let us so absorb integrity — experiencing both its triumphs and defeats — that we do the right thing intuitively.

Tradition is first. Mercy is greater than tradition. Wisdom is greater than mercy.