Useful as Nothing

Tao Te Ching

~ 11 ~

Thirty spokes will converge
In the hub of a wheel;
But the use of the cart
Will depend on the part
Of the hub that is void.

With a wall all around
A clay bowl is molded;
But the use of the bowl
Will depend on the part
Of the bowl that is void.

Cut out windows and doors
In the house as you build;
But the use of the house
Will depend on the space
In the walls that is void.

So advantage is had
From whatever is there;
But usefulness rises
From whatever is not.

We live in a world which values usefulness.  Doing is emphasized over being; material substance over spiritual properties.

As I meditate on Tao, a new understanding of no-thing emerges.  The walls of the house are useful because of the empty space they enclose.  A bowl improves our lives because of its capacity for emptiness.  All the spokes of a wheel converge around a hollow hub.

Why do we fear silence…stillness…nothingness?  We focus on building useful house walls, bowl-sides and wheel spokes and often forget that these are good, but they are nothing–not useful–without the empty space.

Each day of our lives will be multiplied in joy and usefulness if we find and celebrate the inner space of silence, peace and true power.  During a recent interview with Matt Kahn, he said, “…if you want to know the answer to any question in life, go ask a tree.  It will answer you with silence.”  Yes!

How do you experience this nameless, formless Tao presence?  I’d love to share in your meditations–comment below.


6 Responses

  1. Indeed ~ silence and stillness are critical ~ what would music be without the silence between the notes? what would breathing be without the stillness between the -in breath and the out- breath.

    We should be aware of, and indeed embrace silence. It speaks volumes.

    Namaste ~ Kumud

  2. ah, yes! and we all know the power of the gap in between our thoughts.

    Namaste, Shiila

  3. One could argue that the emptiness, the no-thing, has use only because we fill it with something else: spokes fill the wheel, water fills the bowl, and we ourselves inhabit the houses. 😉

    A lovely post, Jacob. Thank you for sharing that.

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