January 21st, 2013

  • trevoke


Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
A wheel has spokes,
but it rotates around a hollow center.

A pot is made out of clay or glass,
but you keep things in the space inside.

A house is made of wood or brick,
but you live between the walls.

We work with something,
but we use nothing.

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.

Chapter 11

11.1 Thirty spokes join at a hub: their use for the cart is where they are not.
11.2 When the potter's wheel makes a pot, the use of the pot is precisely where there is nothing.
11.3 When you open the doors and windows for a room, it is where there is nothing that they are useful to the room.
11.4 Therefore being is for benefit, non being is for usefulness.

Thoma Cleary Translation