At this time of year most of the leaves have fallen off the trees. The branches are bare, and the color is black, grey or shades of brown. Most of us probably don’t think much about those trees right now, nor look up at them, but maybe we should.
I remind my Tai Chi students to look up at the space between the branches. What do you see? Nothing. Grey sky. Stillness. Look again. Energy is flowing, moving around, above and below the branches. You might not see the energy, but it is there. We can’t say “nothing” is there because it is. When you look, notice the shapes, pictures, colors that appear when you focus on the spaces between the branches rather than the branches themselves. A new perspective might arise. Plus, a sense of calm and stillness may fill your being.
The concept “nothing” in open spaces may be new to you. It can be useful. “Nothing” has value. I think of one of my favorite parts of the Tao te Ching:
“We put 30 spokes together and call it a wheel;
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel; but it is on the
space where there is nothing that the
usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
and it is on those spaces where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the house depends.
Therefore, just as we take advantage of what is,
we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.”
Take a few minutes to look at the spaces between the branches. What do you see? How do you feel?