Tao Te Ching Commentary: Bellows of Heaven


“The space between

Heaven and Earth

Is like a bellows

Empty yet inexhaustible

Each motion pouring out

More and more”

Moving away from impartiality – (which could be called the ‘emptiness of wisdom’) – Lao Tzu returns to the inherent emptiness of all things. Like a bellows, it is this inherent emptiness that enables the universe to create continually, always producing more and more. Flutes or saxophones are only able to make music because they are hollow inside. We are only able to speak and breathe thanks to the hollows and cavities within our bodies which enable resonance. If we were nothing but solid matter, we would die in an instant, destroyed by the rigidity of our own density. Even our bones are largely hollow, filled with spaces, and comb-like cavities. If they were nothing but pure calcium, and devoid of space, they would break as easily as a brittle branch, incapable of sustaining any shock or impact.

So, space leaves room for creation, like the blankness of a canvas, or the hollowness of a womb. Space is the essential mystery behind all creation. To try and be rid of it would be to pour cement into all your orifices. Death is density – life is space.