Listening Session Paintings

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Importance of What is Not

We join thirty spokes
to the hub of a wheel.
yet it's the center hole
that drives the chariot.

We shape clay
to birth a vessel,
yet it's the hollow within
that makes it useful.

We chisel doors and windows
to construct a room,
yet it's the inner space
that makes it livable.

Thus do we
create what is
to use what is not.

I love this verse (11) from Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching. I read this book often, but in this case, it is so appropriate to what I have been working on. I am working on a presentation about why we need a whole new question in education; about why the old system has served its purpose; and that young people hold a Knowing within themselves that is filled with Wisdom.

The stanza that reads:

We chisel doors and windows
to construct a room,
yet it's the inner space
that makes it livable.

Is particularly significant to me because it says that we spend more time trying to build a space than focus on what is not in it... in other words, the inner life of a child is much more important than grades, policies, procedures, standards of learning, tests, desks, bells, and on and on. The inner life of a child is more important than money, and thus every child deserves to be in a setting that has been built for his or her inner life, no matter the cost.

Life becomes livable when we find the beauty of our inner life. This cannot be manipulated into students, forced upon them through external motivation, nor can it be feared into us by a system designed to determine for us whether or not we are a failure. Life becomes livable in a structure where love, compassion, light and abundance predominate. It's the hollow within the vessel that makes it useful and the hole in the wheel that drives the chariot.

For too long, we have been consumed with the structure and instead, should be pouring our attention into seeing what what is not.

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