Tag Archives: Chuang Tzu

I thought of what you’d written in faint ink, Your journal with the sawn-off lock, that stayed behind With other things you left, all without use

Five Bells
Ken Slessor

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“Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu:  “I have a big stinktree in my garden.   The trunk is so bent and knotty that nobody can get a good straight plank out of it.  The branches are so crooked you can’t cut them up in any way that makes sense.  There it stands beside the road and no carpenter will even look at it.   Such is your teaching, Chuang – big and useless.”
Chuang Tzu replied: “Have you ever watched the wildcat crouching, watching its prey?   This way it leaps, and that way,
high and low, and at last – it lands in the trap.  Have you ever seen the yak?   It is great as a thundercloud, standing in his might.
Big?  Sure.  But, he can’t catch mice!  So for your big tree.  No use?   Then plant it in the wasteland – in emptiness.  Walk idly around it and rest under it’s shadow.  No axe or saw prepares its end.  No one will ever cut it down.   Useless?  You should worry!”

–  Chuang Tzu, The Useless Tree, circa 200 B.C.