The Part of Emptiness

Just let go, dog. Just. Let. Go.

I toyed a bit with Taoism the other day and I fell into a trance, like Bart Simpson playing mini golf while using the tree falling in the woods riddle as taught to him by Lisa. Particularly, Chapter 11 blew my mind. It was so bad that I'm still trying to collect the pieces. Here it is...

Thirty spokes unite around one hub to make a wheel.

It is the presence of the empty space that gives the function of a vehicle.

Clay is molded into a vessel.

It is the empty space that gives the function of a vessel.

Doors and windows are chisel out to make a room.

It is the empty space in the room that gives its function.

Therefore, something substantial can be beneficial.

While the emptiness of void is what can be utilized.

KA-BOOM! Yeah, dig that, dog; let that ice cube melt a bit inside your glass of Scotch. This is so profound there's a freakin' echo when I think about it. Yeah, I dig it, a house is the foundation, four walls, and a roof, with a door and some windows thrown in for good measure. But when I read this I realized, sure, there's a house and it has value, but for me to live in the house, to give it meaning and to be functional, it is the "non-house" what matters.

POW! Like, absolutely freakin' mind bending stuff.

It reminded me a lot about jazz. You see, silence is to music what a blank canvas is for a musician. Except for jazz. Or, better yet, the juice you can squeeze out of silence is most skin deep in jazz than in your everyday Lady Gaga, you plebeian snowflake. Because jazz requires musicians to also be composers, silence is not "standby" periods but, instead, sweet and savory bits which ought to be actively consumed by the ear. Jazz, like in a conversation, reveals more in its silent moments than when a person is yapping. For example, leave that fidget spinner you're dumbing yourself down with for a while, and check Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. All of it. Do it. Now. This sweet strawberry cake of a record is so modal that silence is everything. When Miles' horn takes a step back, it means so much more to the listener because it's simply not there.

You see, this Tao te ching bitesized appetizer is so hardcore not for what it has but for what it lacks. It tells more in what it doesn't say. You dig? Yes, there is value in what you can touch, smell, pee on, and take to the bank, you naughty boy, but it is just an illusion because the use depends on what is absent... and if something has no use then it has no value. WHAM! Are you getting dizzy now, sonny boy? Well, it gets wilder by the minute. Check this out: our Western fascination with nothingness comes from the desolation, silence, and emptiness which we associate with chaos,e.g. in the beginning there was nothing, post-apocalyptic films are always about abandoned landscapes, and when we're the most miserable we think of our petty little selves curled up in the corner of an empty room. Boyo, I've got news for you: this is the freakin' opposite. For Taoism, chaos is cluttering, a mayhem of stuff flying around like headless chicken hellbent on herding cats. Chaos is overindulgence, explosion of colors, crippling noises galore, and so on and so forth. The balance comes from introducing nothingness. By the introduction of emptiness, avenues between the clutter of houses are created, music blossoms from the loins of cacophony, and white appears behind the scribbling of black, forming letters which portray ideas and that, if you read them, make sense.

You are who you are because of what you are not. That is the message that the Dao is giving you and which is paramount. While Zen is all about letting go until becoming an empty vessel, the Tao is telling you not to be an empty pond but to discover the roots of the pond by both the water in it and the shape that contains it. In one's mind, this translates into injecting emptiness in the chaos of our thoughts and feelings, ordering rather than erasing them. But it also works, one level underneath the mental one. You, as a sack made of flesh and stuffed to the brim with bones, blood and guts, become complete for what is not there. And, you may ask, of course, what is not there? The answer is: Consciousness, self-awareness, your soul.

Dude, this is so intense that I need to take a break now.