The Lord gives his blessings where he finds the vessel empty. ~Thomas a Kempis
The fourth chapter of the Tao Te Ching uses several images to describe the mysterious and indescribable Tao, or Way. The first image is based on the character 冲 , which can be translated as emptiness, as in an empty vessel.
The character itself can be broken into two parts. The left side, which looks like three small lines, means water. The right side, consisting of a rectangle bisected by a vertical line, means center. So within this character meaning emptiness, there is a sense of fluidity as a central quality.
The line in which it appears may be translated as “Tao is an empty vessel which is used but never filled.” The emptiness of Tao is not a barren wasteland, but on the contrary is a rich source of infinite possibility.
When we are able to release our hold on everything that we fill ourselves up with–ideas, beliefs, plans, fears, hopes, opinions–we make room for all the blessings that life offers us. We make room for guidance from the Way. We make room for what is real instead of what we imagine reality to be. We make room for miracles.
Readers might have figured out that I am a Game of Thrones fan. I quoted Arya Stark in a recent post, and the title of this post is also a reference to Arya, who, in the current season, is undergoing an initiation that requires the complete obliteration of ego. “A girl has no name” is her repeated response to questions about her individual identity, showing that she is no longer attached to her separate self.
I may not be ready to give up my name, but I do appreciate the concept of releasing my attachment to who I think I am, to how I think things should be. Emptying myself allows me to receive life’s bounty, and to enter the mystery of Tao.
The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth. ~Tao Te Ching