Zhuangzi on The Useless

Hui Tzu said to Zhuangzi:
“All your teaching is centered on uselessness.”

Zhuangzi replied:
“If you don’t understand what has no use,
you cannot begin to talk about what can be used.

For example, the earth is broad and vast,
but out of all this vastness, a person uses only a few inches,
the place we happen to be standing at the time.

Now suppose we suddenly took away
all that we are not actually using.
Suddenly, all around our feet a gulf yawns,
and we stand in the void
with nowhere solid except under each foot . . .
How long could we continue using
only what we had been using?”

Hui Tzu said:
“Where we were standing would
cease to serve any purpose.”

Zhuangzi concluded:
“This shows the absolute necessity
of what is considered to have no use.”


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