Justice Scalia died while on a free vacation at a luxurious resort whose owner had benefited financially from a favorable Supreme Court decision last year.
We have to free ourselves of childish expectations; we must not pray like children whining to our parents. We must also reject any latent feudalism in our hearts: we still call our gods “lords” and act like serfs begging for consideration. Neither infantile wailing nor medieval supplication is the prayer we need.
— Deng Ming-Dao, The Lunar Tao
Some folks I know are gloating that Scalia’s death is no tragedy. I could not disagree more. It’s just that it’s less King Lear and more Coriolanus.
On Monday, I came across a copy of a book that I didn’t know about by a favorite author of mine, Deng Ming-Dao. The book, The Lunar Tao, is a couple of years old, but this last two or three years has been very rough for us and I haven’t been keeping up with new books much.
Some years back, Mr. Deng wrote a terrific book called 365 Tao, which is a series of daily meditations on living in harmony with the Tao. Each of the short essays is connected with a day of the year, and many of them are tied in some way to the seasons in various ways. (A nice touch is that the essays are not dated but are numbered 1 to 365, with a table in the back where you look up which number corresponds to a particular date; different sets of correspondences are given for the northern and southern hemispheres.)
This book, The Lunar Tao, is also a series of daily meditations, but tied to the days of the lunar calendar. Appropriately enough, Monday was the first day of the year by the Chinese lunar calendar, so I’ve been able to start right from the beginning. Each page also contains a sidebar about the significance of the day in the Chinese calendar or some other aspect of Chinese culture or writings that is relevant to the day’s meditation, and the meditations are interspersed with information about festivals, short poems, historical information, and traditional physical exercises. I’m looking forward to getting deeper into it.
Anyway, today’s meditation, on the parable of the Kitchen God and the virtue of humility, contains a line that I like a lot:
Those who are truly lucky suffer mildly from their mistakes and learn early.
Oh, yeah, ain’t that the truth. The meditation ends with a line worth jotting down, too:
We claim the center by being humble.