Share one hub.
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of
the cart. Knead clay in order to make a vessel. Adapt the nothing therein to
the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the vessel. Cut out doors
and windows in order to make a room. Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose
in hand, and you will have the use of the room.
Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of Nothing that this can
be put to use.
My life experiences and even just the continuous flood of sensory input are like the spokes; anything that I can identify and name is a spoke. And these all share one hub. But the hub isn’t me; after all, my SELF is one of those spokes. That sense of mysterious sameness might be my hub? The spokes are like the myriad differences, and the hub is the point of connection, where differences become sameness.
That the idea of self is like a spoke parallels Buddha’s Second Truth: The illusion of self originates and manifests itself in a cleaving to things—spokes. There is a hub reality, but any attempt to differentiate my self from other things brings me back to dealing with spokes and missing the hub. The (hub) that can be named is not the constant (hub)[see ch. 1].
I sit in church with other spokes to share the hub. This is the social side to my faith. This weekly social sharing re-enforces my moment-to-moment daily task of keeping in touch with the hub.
The awareness of death is like the Nothing. This is what gives the moment of life’s Something its vitality. When I forget the virtue of Nothing, life is boring and that’s when I start looking for excitement. I need more because what I have isn’t enough to make me feel truly alive.
I’m biologically geared to give more credence to Something than to Nothing. After all, Nothing is soooo nothing. It’s the somethings of life that clamor for immediate satisfaction, as Buddha said. It’s a real eye opener now, to begin to see through my biology enough to sense the profound power of Nothing. Although, it does require a real suspension of instinct. Of course, doing this and still living are impossible. But, I can dip down into this realm, and return with the memory. Thus, I know the importance of Nothing, even though I can’t KNOW it constantly. This tempers my worldly activities and brings them more in line with reality—the Tao.
Life is like making a vessel out of clay. You begin with a lump to clay and expand the empty nothing from the inside. Although, the empty nothing is growing, the focus is on the forward moving edge of the clay. Life moves forward like the edge of the clay, but it’s where it’s coming from that gives it meaning. This is the illusion of goals. The more obsessed with a goal, the less I’m adapting the nothing therein to the purpose in hand; I end up living for tomorrow, and get less use out of my life today.
It is by virtue of Nothing (death) that enables me to really savor life. This is useful in a very practical daily way; when I can hold in my mind a sense of death (Nothing), every moment of life is vibrant. It is so easy to take life for granted, and when I do, I lose it. It’s ironic how the quest to make life as comfortable and secure as possible gets in the way of simply savoring life.
The virtue of Nothing is very obvious in music and art. Music is composed of tones, but it is the space between them that gives them life—rhythm. In art, one of the hardest things to do is to know when to stop, and adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand.
Being materialistic isn’t the problem. Forgetting the virtue of Nothing is my problem. I pursue material gain, feeling that it will bring me the prize; but, the prize is really Nothing. Such contentment is beyond my reach as long as I believe that material Somethings bring happiness. Of course, I suppose life and contentment are a little like oil and water.
He who perseveres is a man of purpose [see ch. 34]. And when I persevere in remembering the virtue of Nothing, I feel my deepest life purpose.
The idea that thirty spokes of thought share one hub helps meditation. Once, I had the notion that perfect meditation would be the absence of all thought. Now I know all I need to do is not get lost in my thoughts; meditation is adapting the nothing therein to the purpose in hand. Thus, in meditation, I follow the spokes of thought back down to the hub and peer into nothing from which all somethings—thoughts and otherwise—arise. Then I have the use of the cart—my life.
This reminds me of religious idols. I used to dismiss such things; they were all superficial. But really, it depends on how one adapts the nothing therein which determines true use. The shortcoming I saw was really my own short sightedness.
Paying deep attention to nothing is being watchful for what I can’t see. Watching nothing sounds odd, until I think that it’s the unknown that holds real danger. In the jungle, it’s the snake or lion I don’t see that will do me in.