I recall, that when I read the book of Tao as a teen, there was one verse/chapter which really stuck with me. It went something like this:

If you have an ucarved block and you carve it into a spoon, then you have a spoon. But that spoon is worth less than the uncarved block because it is of one form whereas the uncarved block could be carved into a dragon. And if you carve the block into a dragon, then the dragon is worth less than the uncarved block. Because the block could be carved into anything, and has infinite forms.

However, searching through the texts I found on-line. I have found no such chapter. However, I have found references to this concept on Taoist websites. Is this chapter in the actual book of Tao, or was the text that I read as a teen somehow ammended?

  • By "Book of Dao" do you mean Daodejing (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching) ???
    – virmaior
    Nov 30 '16 at 9:15
  • I believe that I do. It was a book of short paragraph long chapters. However, as is obvious from my post, my memory is not %100 clear on the origin of the citation ;)
    – timthelion
    Nov 30 '16 at 9:18
  • 1
    The concept of Pu is here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu_(Daoism) . you can search the Chinese yourself at ctext but nearly all translations have to taken licenses because the original is far from clear by the standards of 21st century writing.
    – virmaior
    Nov 30 '16 at 12:03
  • Hm, I have found several websites describing the concept, so I cannot be totally crazy, but I still haven't found the origin.
    – timthelion
    Nov 30 '16 at 14:03

I finally found a verse that appears to be very similar to the one I remembered:

"The block of wood is carved into utensils by carving void into the wood. The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block because of its limitless possibilities. Great works do not involve discarding substance."


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