How do you think?
The Vinegar Tasters painting is the most popular painting related to taoism.
The Vinegar Tasters is the name of this well-known painting. It depicts Buddha, Lao Tzu (the author of the Tao Te Ching), and K’ung Fu-tse the master of Confucianism. The picture is a representation of three beliefs. In the picture we see all three men gathered around a vat of vinegar, the vinegar represents the essence of life.
K’ung Fu-tse wears a sour expression. To him, the present was out of step with the past and he did everything he could to exercise reverence for the past, for the ancestors, for the ancient ways. Under Confucianism, there were elaborate and very particular rituals used at particular times for particular things.
Buddha wears a bitter expression. It is the Buddhist way of thinking that life is bitter, filled with earthly attachments that lead to suffering. Buddhists, while just as calm and tranquil as a Taoist, feel that they need to transcend this world. Buddhism has changed over time but the devout Buddhist still sees transcending to Nirvana as their purpose.
Lao Tzu is smiling, the only one enjoying the vinegar. Although vinegar can be sour and bitter, Lao Tzu respected that this was how vinegar is supposed to taste, and he didn’t criticize the vinegar for being what it was supposed to be. This was it’s purpose and the vinegar he was tasting was doing an excellent job at being vinegar. The Taoist practice of respecting everything’s own nature and purpose, is also how the Taoist views the essence of life. Taoist are not blind to the fact that life can be bitter, they simply respect that’s how life is and accept it. They also know that inorder to enjoy your own life acceptance is the way. Wu Wei.
This painting truly shows that accepting how everything is can help make you a much more positive person.