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Chapter 8: The Useless

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu:
“All your teaching is centered on what has no use.”

Chuang Tzu replied:
“If you have no appreciation for what has no use
you cannot begin to talk about what can be used.
The earth, for example, is broad and vast,
but of all this expanse a man uses only a few inches
upon which he happens to be standing at the time.

“Now suppose you suddenly take away
all that he is not actually using,
so that all around his feet a gulf yawns,
and he stands in the void
with nowhere solid except under each foot,
how long will he be able to use what he is using?”

Hui Tzu said:
“It would cease to serve any purpose.”
Chuang Tzu concluded:
“This shows the absolute necessity
of what is supposed to have no use.”

Life is dialectical, that is why it is not logical. Logic means that the opposite is really opposite, and life always implies the opposite in itself. In life the opposite is not really the opposite, it is the complementary. Without it nothing is possible.

For example, life exists because of death. If there is no death there cannot be any life. Death is not the end and death is not the enemy - rather, on the contrary, because of death life becomes possible. So death is not somewhere in the end, it is involved here and now. Each moment has its life and its death; otherwise existence is impossible.

There is light, there is darkness. For logic they are opposites, and logic will say: If it is light, there cannot be any darkness, if it is dark, then there cannot be any light. But life says quite the contrary. Life says: If there is darkness it is because of light; if there is light it is because of darkness. We may not be able to see the other, but it is hidden just around the corner.

There is silence because of sound. If there is no sound at all, can you be silent? How can you be silent? The opposite is needed as a background. Those who follow logic always go wrong because their life becomes lopsided. They think of light, then they start denying darkness; they think of life, then they start fighting death.

That’s why there exists no tradition in the world where it is said that God is both light and darkness. There is one tradition which says that God is light, he is not darkness. No darkness exists in God for these people who believe God is light. There is another tradition that says that God is darkness - but for them there is no light. Both are wrong, because both are logical, they deny the opposite. And life is so vast, it carries the opposite in itself. It is not denied, it is embraced.

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