Tao: honoring space

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Anyone who lives in a large city will tell you that space is a valuable commodity. Everyday, I see people riding the train to and from work vying for a seat or even just a small spot in which to stand. Yet, this idea of conquered space is not limited to city-dwelling.

It is a universally human trait to desire more; more space, more dominion, more control, more room with which to fill our egos. One only has to look at the bloody history of humanity to recognize that most wars are fought over who controls the most land, or sea, or sky. We can examine this on a personal level as well.

Think of any heated argument in which you’ve participated in the past. Arguments are fueled by the desperate need to be right, to prove yourself, to invade and conquer the mental space of your opponent and submit them to your beliefs, your domain. Yet, if an entity becomes so powerful that it takes up most emotional, mental, or physical space, what is left? Does that space hold any more value to that person or idea?

Sometimes it’s best to sit back and allow yourself and others to occupy space. Honor its value; allow space to inform action instead of acting upon space. That said, here is a fantastic contemplation of space:

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.
Hollowed out,
clay makes pot.
Where the pot’s not
is where it’s useful.
Cut doors and windows
to make room.
Where the room isn’t,
there’s room for you.
So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.

~from the Tao Te Ching, translation by Ursula K. Le Guin

One of the things I love about the Tao Te Ching is its simplicity. The excerpt above describes an overwhelming truth with simple imagery and a bit of humor. Basically, where an item, idea, even a person is not, is where it’s useful. When you honor vacant space, it allows you and the other (whatever that may be) to grow.

Again, think of an argument. Often, the best resolution occurs when both parties allow each other to occupy the mental playing field. Be grateful for the space you have. Respect the space of others. And more than not, space will be made for you.

By Terence Stone

Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.

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