I first read this in Chris Corrigan’s book, The Tao of of Holding Space. Read all of this book many times. I immediately used it to help invite people into an Open Space session. It comes from the Tao Teh Ching, by Lao Tzu — the edition I have is translated by John C. H. Wu.
And as I think of it now, and a design proposal I am working on with some university faculty, staff, and an advisory committee, I think I might use this again to invite the opening to conversation with each other. The release of the managed presentation agenda.
Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is these empty spaces that make the room livable.
Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.