By Thomas Moore

A wheel’s hub may have thirty spokes but it is the hole in the center that makes it go.
Work clay into a pot and it is the emptiness in it that makes it useful.
Cut out doors and windows for a room and these holes make the room livable.
You get something from what is present but you really benefit from what is absent.
Tao Te Ching

For many years I have kept this teaching from the Tao Te Ching in the forefront of my mind. To me, it is one of the most compelling images for emptiness. Windows in a house make it beautiful and livable, certainly as much as walls and floors. And what would a house be without the empty space of open doors?

I’m inspired to allow empty spaces all over my life: times for doing nothing, gaps in a day’s schedule, not going to a place where I’m asked or encouraged to go, saying no to the offer of a job. These are the windows and doorways of my life. Because of those empty passageways I may see things otherwise hidden or visit places otherwise inaccessible.

If you fill up your life, nothing unexpected can happen. You can’t make fresh discoveries, and you will have few surprises and revelations.

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Excerpted from the book, The Eloquence of Silence, copyright © 2023 by Thomas Moore. Printed with permission from New World Library The Eloquence of Silence is Thomas Moore’s latest of 25 books about bringing soul to our personal lives and culture, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Care of the Soul. His work brings together spirituality, mythology, depth psychology, and the arts, emphasizing the importance of images and imagination. For more information visit

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