'Thirty spokes of a wheel all join at a common hub / Yet only the hole at the centre / Allows the wheel to spin. Clay is molded to form a cup / Yet only the space within / Allows the cup to hold water.
Walls are joined to make a room / Yet only by cutting out a door and a window / Can one enter the room and live there.
Thus, when a thing has existence alone / It is mere dead-weight / Only when it has wu, does it have life.'
— Lao Tzu (Tao-Te Ching)
Lao Tzu, a sage in ancient China, wrote verses with deep meaning. In the verse above, he talked about ‘nothingness’. Nothingness is important in our daily lives. Take a look.
Zero: The number zero is one of the simplest and greatest discoveries of mathematics, leading to the decimal system. The ancient scholars and scientists Aryabhatta and Brahmagupta wrote about the uses of the numeral 0.
Silence and space in communication: Anyone in theatre, communication and music knows the importance of brief periods of silence. Silence can create an impact that, in many cases, is more profound than words. Silence alone may not work, but when it is interspersed with words, the effect is strong. In visual communication, the importance of space is amazing. If the space between sentences is not right, the communication fails. And in the absence of silence, thoughts can become a cacophony of confusion and lead to stress.
The sages of old were aware of our tendency to be enslaved by a whirlpool of thoughts. To resolve this problem, the process of Pranayam was evolved – a scientific method to attain much-needed moments of silence. When you connect to silence, you become intuitive and so get the best and most productive ideas.
There are five elements in our physical and energy systems, called ‘panchmahabut’. These are earth, water, fire, air and space. The last is – nothing. All elements need to be connected to nothingness to stay balanced. For instance, our hand mudras use this philosophy to balance our energies.
As you can see, zero, space, stillness, nothingness has power.
- From HT Brunch, May 29
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