Taoism > Wu


What is Emptiness (Wu)?

One of the most important concepts in Taoism is wu, usually translated as emptiness. But the meaning of this term is "nonbeing", that is, "nonexistence". In the Taoist literature this term refers to many correlated features:

room empty pictures1. The void as nothingness opposed to the fullness (you);

2. The emptiness as an inner realization, that is the state one should accomplish in order to contemplate the Tao - pursuant to chapter 1 of Tao-te ching;

3. At the mind level, the integration of wu equals an openness that relates itself to the Tao.

  • Emptiness in Tao-te ching

In chapter 11 of Tao-te ching we read the following description of the emptiness:

    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.
    (James Legge)

The usage of the wheel depends on the empty space (emptiness) of the axle. The same, the vessel's usage depends on the emptiness from inside and the apartment may be used only through the empty space within. Therefore emptiness gives a thing its usefulness. A strange idea fashioned by the thinking of Lao-tzu.

  • Emptiness as personal experience

About emptiness as a personal experience we treat mostly in our Level 3 of the Taoist initiation course, dedicated to the meditation, and the Tao Practice in the Day to Day Life.

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