The hope for an empty pot is to become useful. Lao Tzu said, ”The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness.” Pots are formed with vacuums to be filled. They are symbolic shrines of thirst and longing for fullness or completeness.
The English word plasticity comes from plasso, a Greek word meaning to form. The Bible uses this Greek word to describe an artist who fashions clay, wax, or other pliable material.
It uses plasso when it says that the Creator forms people as clay pots, earthen vessels, into which Divine glory can be poured. Thus, the Bible says that people are the Creator’s work of art; and yet, there are so many people who are unhappy with the emptiness in their lives.
Jonathan Foer in Everything is Illuminated said, “It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.”
Because people do not want others to know they feel empty, they often “fake it” to guard their emptiness. As American writer Eric Hoffer said, “Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.”
“Nature abhors a vacuum,” so people try to fill themselves with something: new possessions, wealth, success, knowledge/education, etc. To fill their emptiness, they also conform to what other people are saying, doing, or acquiring.
Virginia Woolf said, “Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it… She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.”
Even though people’s outward appearances and conversations may show all they have learned, accomplished, or acquired, people often still feel empty inside.
Helen Keller described her former life, before she met Anne Bancroft, as a place of emptiness, a place of darkness and stillness without past or future.
According to Helen’s definition, emptiness is the place within where there is no language, sight, sound, or concept of time.
It is in this place of emptiness or stillness, which Helen Keller described, that people can have their earthen vessels filled with useful purpose. It is here they can meet with the Creator and have Divine glory poured into them.
Lao Tzu said, “Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.”
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