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Tao Te Ching Chapter 11 | Lao-Tzu | Comparative Translations

The Way of Virtue





The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the walls)

to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space (within), that its use depends. Therefore, what has a (positive) existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for (actual) usefulness.

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.




Translated by J. Legge





Translated by Stephen Mitchell














 

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