Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Chapter 11
Appreciating Emptiness

Without an empty hub,
Wheels are useless.
Without an inside emptiness,
Pots and bowls are useless.
Without an empty space for doors and windows,
Houses are useless.
Without an empty mind,
People are useless.

Commentary

“All things have no inherent existence.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE via Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Prisoners to the world of objects, they are pressed down and crushed by fashion, the market, events, public opinion… never do they recover their right mind.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Thomas Merton
(Zhuangzi)

from Zhuangzi

Comments: Click to comment

“Forget the years, forget distinctions. Leap into the boundless and make it your home.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE
(Zhuangzi)

Comments: Click to comment

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Plutarch 46 – 120 CE
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)

Themes: Mind Inspiration

Comments: Click to comment

“Only when we take emptiness as our virtue can our actions accord with the Tao.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“You must be emptied of that with which you are full, so you may be filled with that whereof you are empty.”

Augustine ɔːɡəstiːn 354 – 430 CE via David Loy
(Saint Augustine, Saint Austin, Augustine of Hippo)

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“The image of thirty spokes converging on a hub shows how less is the ancestor of more.”

Xuanzong 武隆基 685 – 756 CE
(Hsuan-Tsung or Wu Longji)

Comments: Click to comment

“Regard everything as empty, don’t give substance to that which has none.”

Layman Pang 龐居士 740 – 808 CE

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Emptiness has no form. It takes on the form of the ten thousand things. If emptiness had its own form, it could not form anything else. Thus sages have no mind of their own. They take on the minds of the people and treat everyone the same.”

Su Che 呂洞 1039 – 1112 CE via Red Pine
(Su Zhe)
Great writer of the Tang and Sung dynasties
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Become nothing, And He'll turn you into everything.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی 1207 – 1283 CE
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Our usefulness depends on our empty, shapeless mind.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE
(Te-Ch’ing)

Themes: Emptiness

Comments: Click to comment

“Chasing after words, pursuing phrases, when will you ever be done?”

Bankei 盤珪永琢 1622 – 1693 CE
(Bankei Yōtaku)

Comments: Click to comment

“Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Core of the Teaching

Themes: Slavery

Comments: Click to comment

“because of the Taoist insistence on the positive value of non-being that empty space has been utilized as a constructive factor in Chinese landscape painting.”

Wing-tsit Chan 陳榮捷 1901 – 1994 CE
from Way of Lao Tzu

Themes: Art

Comments: Click to comment

“We have to believe in something that has no form and no color – something that exists before all forms and colors appear… By enlightenment I mean believing in nothing.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“All thoughts are completely without substance… Once you recognize this, they can no longer fool you.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

Comments: Click to comment

“Lao Tzu is… explaining a profound and difficult truth here, one of those counter-intuitive truths that, when the mind can accept them, suddenly double the size of the universe.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Paradox

Comments: Click to comment

“the result of anything aimed at enriching the ego is destruction, complete confusion, perpetual confusion.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

Comments: Click to comment

“Lao-tzu’s ‘existence’ and ‘nonexistence’ are tantamount to yang and yin.”

Red Pine 1943 CE –
( Bill Porter)
Exceptional translator, cultural diplomat

Comments: Click to comment

 

Comments (1)

Please log in or create an account to comment.

  1. Shan Dao
    Le Guin describes the potential impact of this chapter as doubling the size of the universe. Given how tiny our conception of the universe compared to how vast it really is, this seems like a gross understatement. Doubling may be the best analogy though for depicting the expansion our narrow focus on objects to include the immeasurable realms of emptiness because it goes from half to whole, from yang to both yang and yin together.