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Verse Eleven


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007

Verse Eleven

from The Way of Life by Witter Bynner, 1944

Thirty spokes are made one by holes in a hub,
By vacancies joining them for a wheel's use;
The use of clay in moulding pitchers
Comes from the hollow of its absence;
Doors, windows, in a house,
Are used for their emptiness:
€Thus we are helped by what is not
To use what is.

Verse Eleven

according to Bradford Hatcher, 2005

Thirty spokes converge in one hub
Then depending upon what does not exist
is the vehicle€s usefulness
Mold clay in order to produce a vessel
Then depending upon what does not exist
is the vessel€s usefulness
Cut out doors and windows in order to make a dwelling
Then depending upon what does not exist
is the dwelling€s usefulness
Thus, the existence of something serves to make value
The lack of something serves to make utility


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 6:59 pm Post subject:
Verse Eleven

from Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching by Ursula Le Guin, 1998

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn't
is where it's useful.

Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot's not
is where it is useful.

Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn't,
there's room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what is not.

"One of the things I love about Lao Tzu is he is so funny. He's explaining a profound and difficult truth here, one of those counter-intuitive truths that, when the mind can accept them, suddenly doubles the size of the universe. He goes about it with this deadpan simplicity, talking about pots." Ursula Le Guinn


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007

Seeing the Tao (the whole) "suddenly doubles the size of the universe." That's how it feels to me, and that's how it felt when I first discovered it, that is, saw IT. I think we called it a kind of quiet joy in a discussion of one of the earlier verses. I find it to be a feeling of satisfaction and completion and sufficiency. It was a great surprise when I first saw it after reading Chapter One of On Having No Head. It's still a little surprising when it comes to awareness. To see one's universe double! What a gift!

The wheel is a wonderfully precise image for the Tao. The mandala is a wheel, and so are Douglas's many maps of the "youniverse", one of which appears on the Headless Way home page. http://www.headless.org/english-new/homepage.html Douglas's maps are wheels with their spokes going out in all directions from the hub.

The hub is the center, the heart, the headless place. It's also still, empty, single, and constant. The spokes are many, but they converge in the one hub of all. The spokes are not constant. They change positions. This verse sums it all up in one homely image, the wheel.

So what is the Tao? What is my real identity? Is it the Hub? Is it the Whole€both the hub and the spokes?

Jim


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007

In the last post, I said that the wheel, the mandala, and the concentric circle maps are precise images of the Tao. I should add that they are images seen from a third person perspective. I remember one workshop where we were all sitting in a circle, and Douglas asked about the shape of the circle. I said it was shaped like a horseshoe, rather than a circle, because it had an opening where I sat. Douglas said that to see it as a horseshoe I would have to be in the position of a fly on the ceiling. I wouldn't see an opening in the circle if I were looking at it from above.

From the first person perspective, a different image may be better. I live near the Pacific Ocean, and I have seen many sunsets over the years. When the sun is shining over the ocean, it shines a light over the water that comes straight at me, like a spoke to its hub. I believe Douglas has written about this, but I can't remember just where. I seem to remember him saying that this spoke of light has a name. Maybe Richard will remember the name. All things come to me in this way, not just the sun over the ocean. All things are my spokes, while I am the hub. What an arrangement! I am the empty center who is constantly filled by countless spokes. I like this image of the wheel. I am the hub, and all I see are my spokes, all for me. Amazing design.

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2007

hi all,

just a short reaction for now:

this verse tells me the hub is vacant/empty for all the spokes (everything that is). it fulfills its usefulness by being capacity for everything.

i remember this quote that i've always liked, 'wisdom tells me i'm nothing, love tells me i'm everything'. something like that.

love,
janet


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2007

Hi Janet

I think the quote you mentioned is from Sri Nisargadatta.

It goes " When I see I am nothing that is Wisdom and when I see I am everything that is Love and between these two my life flows" or something similar to that.

I really liked that quote too.

It's in the book "I Am That" where Douglas is mentioned briefly by a woman from England in conversation with Sri Nisargadatta (aka the Niz).

Regards

Steve


From: Luc
Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007

Hi Jim,

It is such an advantage to see different translations. Each has its own colour and style and often they bring me in good contact with what feels to me as the real meaning of Lau Tze - or maybe they make me see the link between Headlessness and Tao.

In this verse I was always puzzled with the translations I have, because I felt Lau Tze was pointing at the necessity of emptyness for things to be useful, but the last phrase didn't fit in with that. It atributed advantage or profit to being and usefulness to not-being.

Now in the translations you present it is so clear :
Thus we are helped by what is not
To use what is.
and (a little confusing) :
So the profit in what is
is in the use of what is not.

Thank you !
Luc


From: Janet
Posted: Thu Nov 22, 2007

Steve Palmer wrote:
Hi Janet

I think the quote you mentioned is from Sri Nisargadatta.

It goes " When I see I am nothing that is Wisdom and when I see I am everything that is Love and between these two my life flows" or something similar to that.

I really liked that quote too.

It's in the book "I Am That" where Douglas is mentioned briefly by a woman from England in conversation with Sri Nisargadatta (aka the Niz).

hi steve,

yes, thats the quote. its lovely. thanks for the additional information, too.

love,
janet


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007

Hi Luc,

I like Jonathan Star's way of summing up this verse.

He begins the verse with:

"Wu is nothingness, emptiness, non-existence."

And he ends it with:

Thus, when a thing has existence alone
it is mere dead-weight
Only when it has wu, does it have life

That leaves out the distinction between profit and usefulness. To me, he is saying that we need both being and non-being to be whole and alive. We don't think we need wu or emptiness until we discover Seeing or some other path home.

I love his way of illustrating emptiness (wu) with the most ordinary examples€a wheel, a bowl, and a room. There are no technical, insider terms here, just simple objects we see everyday. Wu may seem like an insider term. If it is, it's one of just a few that he repeats throughout the verses. It's the same wu he uses in wu wei and wei wu wei.

Jim


From: Janet
Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007

jimclatfelter wrote:We don't think we need wu or emptiness until we discover Seeing or some other path home.

hi jim,

i don't know if its that we don't think we need emptiness until we discover Seeing, or if its just that we are not aware of it. we can't really think that we don't need it, if we don't even know that IT IS. to me, IT IS already, whether we recognise it or not.

but, it is wonderful to recognise, isn't it?

love,
janet
p.s. thank you for explaining in detail about wu. i didn't know all these things. i see how everything strings together and is making more sense to me.


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2007

Hi Janet,

Yes, we don't think about or notice emptiness at all until we find the way home.

Love,
Jim


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