Emptiness and religion

I’m sure you have noted that my posts have a heavy emphasis on Eastern religious, Zen-themes, emptiness and “such.”  This is the result of, first of all, the alienation that has been my blessing/curse all of my life.  Second, it reflects the extensive reading I have done in world religions and philosophy.  These two considerations have left we with strong convictions (i.e. a “bias”) toward the notion that this world is ephemeral and that reality lies beneath the surface of day to day life….or “out there” or “beyond the grasp of cognition” or however you wish to put it.  And to “find it”, you have to “lose” your own grasp of reality or, in the words of Jesus, you have to lose your life to find it.

Western Christian culture often fails to consider that Christianity itself is an Eastern religion that has been dragged kicking and screaming to the West.  And we have done a thorough job on westernizing this spiritual tradition, i.e. reducing it to dogma and mindless ritual.

I’d like to share with you two different translations of one of Lao Tzu‘s verses relevant to the subject of emptiness:

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use


Thirty spokes are united around the hub of a wheel,
but the usefulness of the wheel
depends on the space where nothing exists.
Clay is molded into a vessel,
but the usefulness of the vessel
depends on the space where nothing exists.
Doors and windows are cut out of the walls of a house,
and the usefulness of the house
depends on the space where nothing exists.

Therefore take advantage of what exists,
and use what does not exist.


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