Salamanca Convento de San Esteban – Chapter 59

We are at the Convento de San Esteban. Construction of the frontage began in 1524 and was completed in 1610.

I read Chapter 59 of the Tao te Ching, translated by Steven Mitchell:

“For governing a country well
there is nothing better than moderation.”

We view the courtyard. The pillars are decorated with images of the prophets and scenes from the life of Christ.

“The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.”

There are rooms off the cloister — this one shows a video of life within the convento.

“Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,”

A painting depicting the founder Father Pedro de Herrera in prayer.
“He has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.”

We enter the church. The chief architect, Juan de Alana, also designed the New Cathedral in Salamanca and in Segovia. The altarpiece is crowned with a painting of the martyrdom of St. Steven painted by Claudio Cuello in 1692.

“Nothing is impossible for him.”

“Because he has let go,
he can care for the people’s welfare
as a mother cares for her child.”

There is a museum connected to the convento. There are books with Medieval music.

We leave the convento and visit the Puerta de la Universitad.  The University is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest in the world. There is a skull with a frog on its head — on the facade of the door. Tradition says that the students must locate the frog to pass their exams and that if you find it you will have good luck. The skull is in the center of the final video image.

You can see it in the middle of the photo — the skull on the left has a protrusion on it — a frog (the frog has been worn down by the weather.)

People argue regarding the meaning of the frog. Frogs sometimes symbolize sin. Perhaps the frog represents a doctor who failed to cure a young prince who died during the era the convento was constructed.

We see a band giving a concert in the Plaza Mayor. I see an elephant.

I provide text from the Tao te Ching as a way to stimulate you to think about what is happening within yourself. Lao tsu is not concerned about doctrines or philosophy. There is no need to regard what he says as a sacred text — although his book is considered the origin of Taoism, the early religion of China. If you look within you can realize that there is a fountain within yourself. It brings forth your thoughts.

Lao tsu suggests not getting caught up in these thoughts, doctrines, goals, destinations. To be free of your self is true freedom. This is something that can be achieved through meditation. Lao tsu emphasizes the nebulous foundation of all religion.

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