finally . . the submission

The final stages of the approval process have been completed, including the marketing text for the cover.  All the edits have been approved and the marketing text has passed muster. The only stages of the process remaining include a properly structure final submission, approval of a cover design, the scrutiny of a proof reader, professional indexing and final approval of the finished book.  In order to submit the manuscript for layout in book form (eBook and print format), it must be packaged properly.

A manuscript is composed on pages that are 8.5 x 11 inches, but a book is published in various formats. The print version of my book will be 6 x 9 inches. To complicate matters further, the margins of a manuscript are not the margin dimensions of a finished book. The individual charged with formatting a book for publication requires some freedom to prepare the book layout. My submission will consist of  two folders; one folder contains a single clean copy of the manuscript and a second folder which contains a separate file for each graphic or photograph to be included in the text.  All photographs and graphics, should their be any, are cut from the manuscript and a place holder is inserted to indicate where each belongs.

My manuscript also includes some tables and text boxes. I was given the option of formatting them myself or having it done by the layout pro. I have opted to have them formatted for placement by the layout pro because I am certain to make a hash of it. After all the work and expense of getting to this point,  a highly professional looking finished product is the only possible outcome for the author.

The cover design is another matter which I have turned over to the pros. They will do their best to come up with a cover design that is attractive and appealing, and I simply have to approve it. Throughout this process I have taken my lead from the experts. I am a writer, not a layout expert. When you choose to self publish and pay for a package deal, the expertise of the publisher is what you paid for so you should exploit it to the max. Tomorrow, when I click the send button on an email that has my files attached in submission format, I do so with confidence and certainly a degree of excitement.

The next phase of the process is up to me. There are lots of books for people to chose from in this world and no book sells itself. Unless you already have a public profile of some note, the first time author is an unknown entity in a very crowded and competitive space.  I have written for a target audience and I need to reach out to them. My next post will discuss marketing planning and structuring an Author platform.

Until the next post I remain your faithful blogger . . .

L Alan Weiss (Larry) 

Soon to be published author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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Now the pace quickens

In my last blog post I reported on completing the changes to the third edit version of my manuscript. Believe it or not, I listened and read the manuscript one last time before submitting it for the next stage of the process, the editorial review board. This is important, because this is the group that decides if the book merits their seal of approval. I’m feeling pretty good about the project at the moment.

This last review, reading along with the text-to-voice app generated a few minor changes to improve the flow of language. The advantage of doing so many reviews of the work arises from a familiarity with the text that cannot be achieved in any other way. Now, small glitches in rhythm, language flow and word choice stand out from the now familiar background of the text. This review process takes about six hours to complete when the text is read back at 180 words a minute for a 66000 word manuscript.

The next task is to set up my files for transfer to the person who sets the book into its final form. I will also be working with someone to set up the book cover. As usual, I’m relying on the people the publisher employs to do this. It seems that I can expect to see a completed book ready for release in two to three months.

I had a long conversation with a representative of the publisher re: planning for marketing my book. You cannot sell books without marketing them. Marketing involves a range of activity from developing a web presence, to press releases and possible speaking engagements. It takes an effort to sell a book when the author has no public profile. Ken Follett might sell many copies of an average book just because he is Ken Follett. An unknown author may only sell a few copies of a great book without recognition.

My next adventure is to develop a marketing plan. I’ll keep you up to date as this and other processes unfold

Until the next post

Larry (L Alan Weiss), soon to be author of. . .

Through a Lens of Emptiness

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Manuscript editing completed–now what?

My last blog post followed receipt of the Quality Edit review of my manuscript which presented few things to be addressed. Since then, I have listened to the entire text twice more (using my beloved text to voice application) and made the required corrections. There were still a few areas where the prose lacked flow and there were a few word choices had to be reconsidered. I am just about ready to send the whole thing back to the publisher for the next phase of the process.

At the same time the Quality Edit material was received, a copy of my marketing text copy was included, and that was really a good thing. I had written the original marketing text to accompany the initial manuscript submission more than one and a half years ago. As you might imagine, much had changed since then. Needless to say, a complete revision of the text was necessary.

Marketing text refers to the copy that appears on the back cover of a paperback or the first section of an eBook web advert. It needs to be short and sweet and consists of; an Author Bio of no more than 50 words, a brief one liner Keynote tag line,  a list of Keywords to attract the target audience to your title,  and no more than 200 words for a Back Cover overview. Compared to a work of about 66000 words, this is a trivial amount of copy, but those words were the most difficult to write, and in some ways the most important.

The Author Bio needs to be a quick portrait of the author portraying both qualifications and character. The Keynote tag line needs to be a real zinger that captures a potential reader’s imagination. The Keyword list needs to reflect the content of the book as a reflection of the interests of the target audience. The Back Cover overview is meant to be a “teaser” or “movie trailer” like device designed to capture a potential reader’s interest and encourage them to look further into a book’s content and encourage a purchasing decision.

The other considerations relevant to this phase of the publication process are decisions on whether to pay a professional proof reader and to have the book professionally indexed. This adds some costs, so you have to consider their value. The proof reader reviews the PDF proof copy of the book prior to, a tedious and critical task to be sure, and for a moderate dyslexic an impossible task. An index may or may not be required, but my project is a work of creative nonfiction and has some content the reader may wish to reference while reading, or for future reference. I’m certain to employ the proof reader. Professional indexing is something I need to consider further.

Although I am unable to release any content of a book in the pre-publication stage, I’m sure the title can be mentioned: Through a Lens of Emptiness: Into the Void and Back Again in Search of Understanding. I’m still deciding about including a subtitle or not. I might even alter the word Understanding to Self. Anyone reading this blog is welcome to comment of the subtitle dilemma.

I won’t mention the name of the publishing house that will publish my work until it is actually published, but I will continue to update those following this blog on my progress. I’m thinking about a blog post re: motivation verses motive for self-publishing.

Until then,

Larry (L Alan Weiss)

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Becoming Like Water


Lazy, meandering streams in urban parks,

Mountain torrents, arising from the never-ending trickling melt of glaciers,

Tumbling rocks and pebbles, conferring unexpected smoothness.

Forming rivers flowing to the sea.

Ponds of every description and size,

Glassy with ice, or shimmering in a summer’s breeze.

Life concealed below a thin molecular skin of nature’s essential fluid,

Flitting, and flying, and buzzing above its surface or skating magically on it too.

Even Thoreau’s Walden, a pond eloquently shared, implanted in my mind.

Shores of oceans, lakes and seas, bounded by rock or sandy beach,

Waves gently lapping sometimes crashing at my feet.

Timeless rhythm of ageless music,

Sounds continuous and regular, marking the pulse of wind and tide.

Telling tales of far off places to all who listen.

Canoe’s prow cutting the surface, gliding smoothly, quietly, leaving no scars.

At the helm of a trawler, playing with tides to gain favor, charting a logical course.

Avoiding dangers of reef and rock, negotiating treacherous passes into mysterious fiords.

Fighting wind and wave, arriving safely into port.

I’ll venture out once more when all is quiet.

These are the waters of my life, whose very existence runs a thread through time,

Speaking as they did to Siddhartha and Vasudeva the ferryman before him,

Whispering, laughing, roaring and crying, teaching me patience, marking my allotted time.

Flow without resistance, becoming one with all they touch.

In these ways, I have become like water.

L. Alan Weiss (

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I have become emptiness

I Have Become Emptiness

I have become emptiness

I have become emptiness and it is not stressful.

I am not alone, not isolated, have no fear, see no foreshadowing of the bleak and barren.

I have become emptiness in order to find fullness in life.

I am not fooled by its apparent permanence, or its promises, or its apparitions.

I have become emptiness in order to experience fullness of mind.

I am all memories, and feelings, and sensations of the past seeking the future as it may be.

I have become emptiness in order to achieve expansiveness of thought.

I am enlightenment, and vision, and illumination of being and spirit.

I have become emptiness in order to achieve purposeful action,

I am productive, and positive, and undeterred by impediment.

I have become emptiness and it is a joyful state.

I have become emptiness.

From The Lens of Emptiness

L. Alan Weiss (

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The final acts

Sorry for the break in communication. Anyone reading this blog who is a writer will understand what happens when the words start to flow. Not only is it an irresistible feeling to be writing with fluidity and insight, it also means that a manuscript is getting completed. Over that last week or so I have been sequestered with my thoughts and words, but I want to finish my documentation of dear B’s last days.

Almost two weeks had passed since all nutrition and fluids were withdrawn and B was still hanging on to life. At about eleven o’clock on this final day of B’s life, the nurses came into the room as usual to change his position, and when they moved him he grimaced in pain for the last time and went into crisis. Forty-five minutes later it was all over. All that remained to be done was the signing of his death certificate, the procession out from the hospice suite to the hearse, a laying in for people to visit the family and pay their respects, the funeral and finally a burial.

The wake, as it was called, was held three days later at the funeral home. At this point in the blog I need to flip the switch over from the all the scenarios occurring around me, to my reactions to the rituals associated with the death of this man. For these final rituals, I stepped outside myself into  the theater of it all and away from the significance of  loss. It is a quirk of mine to step back  from things in my head in times of stress and pain and look at them as an observer, rather than a participant. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism or a technique for grasping the reality of a situation more fully. I am not sure which, but it is what I do.

The wake was held in a large room at the funeral home and B was laying in an open casket. This was the second time I was exposed to the final rendition of a once living being as the result of cosmetic skills and mortuary science. The first time I was exposed to such a sight was at the funeral of a friend and colleague who had died in an automobile crash. In both cases, I only saw a mannequin of the person I knew laying in the casket. My dear B looked more like himself as he lay in the hospice bed than he did now. In his life, over all the years I had known him, he never looked like he was made to look in death.

At my own father’s funeral, I declined the offer to have a last look at him before he was buried. My dear wife went into the room where he lay with my mother, and all I could hear was my mother’s wailing cry “That’s not my Lou”. I only wanted to remember him as he was just a few days before when we had travelled to visit him at home. You could tell his heart was struggling to supply enough blood to his organs systems just by looking at him, but he was alive and that was what I wanted to remember. When my mother died some twenty years later, she gave express instructions that there was to be no viewing of her body, no cosmetic treatment, and only a simple grave side service. It was very dignified indeed.

I ventured up to the casket to have a closer look and just touched an arm. At that moment, I experienced this part of the ritual of death as a degradation of the life that was. I imagine this whole scene is for the benefit of the family, but I think it barbaric and disrespectful to the dynamic life of the B that I knew so well.

The funeral service and burial were held the next day. I was still standing outside of myself, detached and in observation mode. I confess to being a very non-religious type, and as this was a Catholic service so it was very foreign to me. You need to believe in God to see the relevance of the words of the service and of the priest speaking them. The only meaningful part of the service occurred when my nephews, each in their turn, stood to speak of their father. They spoke so well and with so much dignity, that the I felt B’s memory was reconstituted after  the artificiality of  his open casket that day before.

B’s burial was simple, with a few words of the mass repeated at the grave side. The most interesting and touching event of his burial was the addition of a military honor guard and flag folding ceremony. His casket was draped with the American flag in respect for his participation in actions related to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was in the Navy at the time and somehow involved as a crew member of one of the ships participating in the blockade around Cuba. That was a few years before we knew each other. Once the ceremony was completed and the flag was folded in the customary manner, it was handed to my sister-in-law. The casket was lowered into a concrete lined bunker as required for any burial in that part of Illinois, and that was that.

My thoughts as his casket descended into his cement lined crypt reinforced my belief that life is life and death is just death, and nothing more. On the way to a luncheon held in his honor following the burial, I stepped back into myself and finally shed a tear for the loss of a friend and in sadness and happiness at the same time, because his suffering had come to an end. Shalom my friend.

Until the next time . . . L

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Next day at the hospice – the procession

B has been NPO (no nutrition by mouth or any other means) for 11 days. Ghandi managed a 21 day hunger strike on two glasses of water, but Ghandi did not have a massively metastasised cancer, nor had he experienced intensive radiation and chemo therapies. Eleven days of survival was far in excess of the usual seven the family had been informed to expect when B entered the facility.  B continued to breathe regularly, receive his injections of morphine and antihistamine, and be repositioned regularly. His day was otherwise uneventful. The intervals of communication of the previous day were not repeated and may be the last we will enjoy since there were none this day.

Members of the family came and went throughout the day with the greatest concentration present after 4 PM. The sporting events continued to unfold on the TV. At one point, all the family present gathered around a computer screen to watch the live feed of a high school soccer game in which his grandson was playing. All of us were cheering his team on and watching his play, except B of course. He was not forgotten. One or another of us checked on him regularly, but his condition remained stable, save his body temperature. Clearly some minor infection had set in and whatever remained of his disease defence mechanisms were at work. No antibiotics were in order for my friend.

The other feature of this experience not yet mentioned was the abundance of food availble for all to eat. The hospice provided refrigeration in another location so that families could bring and store food on site. The location was some sort of lounge with a partial kitchen, tables and chairs to eat at, and a gathering place for family members who wanted to take a break from staying in the suites with their loved ones. Once again, the normalcy of the place, the persistent upbeat music in the halls and the general good spirits of all in attendance (B’s family is the only one I can account for) grated against the reality that was this a place of dying.

The day progressed in the same manner until about 10 PM when we decided to leave for the evening. The only problem was that there was a procession in progress. At this hospice, the clients entered and exited through the same door. There was no back door for hearses to pull up to for the deceased to be spirited away without notice. At this hospice, there was a regular procession to follow the body out the front door to the hearse. This was a very solemn  affair with the now mourning family very much in the fore. This was a place of dying with dignity in the company of loved ones where death was not a something to be hidden or to hide from. We decided to stay out of the way in respect for the family of the hour. The whole affair took about 30 minutes before we could leave for the evening. Staff told me privately that there were three such processions over the last weekend and it was a rough time for them all. These staff were feeling humans capable of working under very unique conditions.

This scenario got me thinking about my previous experiences with death and the dying. The first death I recall was that of a grandmother who had pancreatic cancer. She died about 63 years ago (I was just 6) and she was only in her fifties.  My only recollection of her death was when my father quietly announced that I no longer had a grandmother. That was it, nothing more. Perhaps it was the way of the times, but clearly I was being sheltered from the experience. The next death was that of a patient from whom I was taking a blood sample. I worked as a night lab technician (now in university) at a small urban hospital; taking morning blood samples was one of my regular duties. In this instance, while taking my sample the blood just stopped flowing and that was it. I checked the pulse. I called the duty nurse to the bedside to confirm my observation and left the room. I felt nothing, because a very sick elderly person with whom I had no association had died in the course of events. I also observed several autopsies while working at this hospital. Death was death. Should I have felt something for the old women or for the subjects of the autopsies?

The next several events involved family members. A cousin had died at the age of fifty from a heart attack, but he was a very heavy smoker and also had lung cancer. My paternal grandfather died several weeks after I visited him in a nursing home. I attended his funeral. My maternal grandfather died in the early 1970’s. I was unable to see him prior to his death or to attend his funeral as I was now in exile from the United States due to the Viet Nam situation. I was very close to this man and it hurt me to be excluded from those events.

My father died at the age of 63 from a third and finally fatal heart attack. Fortunately, I was again able to travel to the USA and had visited him just a few days before he died. I was not there at the moment of death.  I was able to fully participate in his funeral and the other religious rites associated with his death. My mother passed away some thirty years later from lung cancer. I was fortunate again to be able to spend several days with her just before her death. She was the first loved one that was under a palliative care regime, albeit not in a hospice. Instead, she was at my brother’s home, but received all the appropriate care from individuals that came and went as needed.  I had exhausted my leave of absence from my teaching position and had to return, but my children came to stay and visit with here the next day. They too had ample time to sit an talk with her for the next day and a half, but she expired at that time. It is the closest I got to a hospice experience. We all attended her funeral. Both she and my father were fully communicative, alert and with-it when I was with them.

The lose of a parent is certainly a sad event and I was affected by each of their deaths, but nothing I had experienced was equal to this time spent with B and his immediate family. He was so clearly debilitated by both disease and cancer therapy, and his hold on life was so tenuous, that the affect on my was greater than I expected from precious experiences. I have no anticipation of an afterlife, but these people were religious to a degree to which I could not relate. They were counting on it. I twice blacked out in my life; once from the effect of something called “divers reflex, and once from the fall resulting in being knocked unconscious. On both occasions, I knew that if I had not regained consciousness that would have been it. There was absolutely nothing on the other side of a blackout, the religious beliefs of others notwithstanding.

Death could not be excluded from beneath my dome of heaven for it is just pat of the human condition. My conclusion from all these experiences is that life is life and death is death, and never the twain shall meet. B had his own procession the very next day. I’ll write about that in the next post.

Until then . . . L

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At the hospice the next day: My dome of heaven trembles around me.

Arriving back at B’s suite the next morning was less surreal for the time being. Only a few people were present. The lighting was subdued and the ever present sports show was on TV  but the volume was muted. B was resting quietly with the help of his morphine injections and his wife, my sister-in-law, was by B’s side holding his hand. Everyone spoke in muted tones and the four of us stood around the bed looking at the inert but living shell of a person that we all cared for.

This man was dear to me although we visited with each other infrequently over the last 45 years. I first met B when he was in his early thirties. We got on from the get-go and just genuinely liked each other, although he was 10 years my senior. His wife and my bride-to-be were sisters, hence that fate of our own encounters and choices for life partners brought us together as friends. As I gazed at his gaunt but familiar features, my eyes misted a bit for the first time. On the previous visit there was just too much lightheartedness in the room for my emotions to take hold. I touched his shoulder and spoke a few words, but there was still no obvious response from him.

The day progressed with little change in B’s situation. The only change was the arrival of one of his sons. We were all sitting around in the lounge area chatting except for my sister-in-law, who was sitting by B’s side when we heard “It’s okay B. It’s okay for you to go if you are ready.”, which immediately drew our attention to B’s bedside scene. He was breathing irregularly (something called Cheyne-Stokes respiration) and had a very shallow, almost non existent pulse. The emergency button was pressed and when the nurse entered the duty physician was requested. He appeared and confirmed that B was in crisis and might not survive much longer. There were no tears, only concerned attention and a desire to stand near B during this time. After about 35 minutes of this ominous “death rattle” condition, the nurses arrived to move B a bit as per usual. When they did, B opened his eyes. For some reason, I went to his side quickly, took his hand and spoke to him. Just a bit a friendly patter of the kind that usually passed between us, but this time he responded. B certainly was unable to speak although he moved his facial muscles near his lips a bit in response to my words. I continued talking with him and reminiscing about times we spent together and he spoke with his eyes, and with movements of his eye brows. It was an amazing and special moment since I was able to communicate with my old friend directly. B’s breathing became regular and after about two minutes I decided to call his son over to the bed side and stand aside so he could talk to his father. “Just keep the conversation going”, I said with some urgency.

The conversation between B and his son went on for quite some time, then each of the others in the room went over in turn and spoke (words responded to by eye flashes, facial movements and eye brow raises) with B. These were no random responses on his part, they were deliberate attempts to communicate with all of us. After about 15 minutes B became fatigued and began to drift off, but his breathing was regular and he appeared to be in a very relaxed sort of groove. Those moments caused the space inside my dome of heaven to shake every so subtly. I controlled the tears (mostly) and felt a sense of amazing relief that I had at least one opportunity to communicate with B, as did all those near his bedside in those moments. B rested quietly for the remainder of the day and through the night.

I had looked at death overtaking the life of a human for whom I had deep affection and then saw death rise up and leave my friend B with a little more of his lifetime for a while. The events of that day really got me thinking about death and life. I’ll share some of those thoughts with you tomorrow.

Until then . . . L


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Emptiness and the Dome of Heaven

Each dome of heaven arises from emptiness and embodies emptiness in it beginnings. In a very early post I discussed the work of Anselm Kiefer and specifically referred to his work titled “Everyone Stands Under his own Dome of Heaven”. If you are not familiar with this particular painting by Kiefer then just Google the title and you can appreciate it for yourself. In the painting, the dome of heaven is depicted as a transparent hemisphere, so you will have to visualize your own dome of heaven (DOH) with you standing just beneath its highest point. Now consider that everyone around you sits at the center point of his or her own DOH. This may be difficult at first, but becomes easier with practice.

Before a child is born, that is while they are in utero, it resides beneath the expectant mother’s DOH. Recollections of pregnancy and birthing, no matter how uncomfortable and painful aspects of the whole experience was, will remain beneath her DOH. Her child will remain there as well, no matter how old they are. There is your first hint re: the raison d’etre of one’s DOH. It exists to contain everything that is important to you and everything you have created in life. Thus at birth, a newborn’s DOH is essentially empty and therefore in the Taoist sense, useful in its emptiness. The first contents under the infant’s DOH are warmth, security, food, suckling,  being kept comfortable and a sense of mother. Although these things take on different forms as we age, the want of them remain beneath our DOH. An infant’s DOH is initially very small.

Even though the infant’s DOH is small, as it does not have much to contain, it is very important. It is foundational. Maslow (hierarchy of need) considers these first elements that an infant includes beneath a newly formed DOH as basic needs. If those needs go unsatisfied then there is little hope for social development. Indeed, if some of those basic needs are not satisfied, the infant’s existence is in jeopardy. As an infant matures, it gathers more and more beneath its DOH. The sound of voices belonging to those close to the infant are added first, followed by facial expressions when eyes begin to focus. Other sensation, sounds, odors and sights gather under the evolving dome, as long the sensations are pleasant. Unpleasant sensations and experiences try to intrude on the infant’s DOH but never achieve permanent resident status. And so, the infant’s DOH increases in the diversity of contents as their experience with the world around them grows.

The Taoist’s concepts of emptiness of action, thought and mind all apply to the newborn, save and accept the movements of the fetus in utero. These are movements in the context of the emptiness of thought and mind, better thought of as the emptiness of intention. Most movements of a newborn fall into the same category for a while. Some movements, like the startle reflex can never be intentional by their very nature. Even though an infant moves about, for the first while, those movements can be considered examples of emptiness of action because they are empty of intent. Emptiness of thought and mind are also characteristic of the infant. The emptiness of mind is not an absolute because the brain is continually recording information re: the sensations that are experienced. The emptiness of thought diminishes very slowly. Even though these sorts of mental functions are in play, the storage of information is essentially sensory in nature. Associations between events and sensations build slowly. Most relational aspects of sensation develop slowly, except for a sense of comfort and warmth which is rapidly associated with its mother. The initial emptiness of action, thought and mind at birth moves toward increasing fullness as the infant experiences the world, and so with that experience the infant’s DOH grows.

The idea of each of us having our own DOH is an incredibly useful concept. The most interesting aspect of this idea is the role we play in constructing our personal DOH. I intent to explore that idea in my next post. Until then . . .


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The Beginning of a Look at Emptiness

I’ve been thinking about the idea of Yin/Yang relationships in the context of my writing, and reading some Taoist literature to guide my thinking. As I read, I was struck by the idea that emptiness and fullness are an important and useful Yin/Yang inter-relationships and began to think how  this idea might be applied.  The phrase “looking at something as half empty or half full” suggests that the concept is part the psyche already, so I considered the relationship of emptiness and fullness in the context of this blog. How did the emptiness/fullness concept relate to idea expressed in the title of Anselm Kiefer’s work “Everyone Stands Under his own Dome of Heaven”.

A brief discussion of the Taoist idea of emptiness is in order. The basic idea is that something that is empty like a cup, becomes useful in its ability to contain something, or the emptiness of a blank piece of paper becomes useful to the writer who has something to write. This notion is contrary to ordinary experience,  since we usually look at something that is full, being full of a material that can be utilized. The motor oil inside a bottle is useful for lubricating an engine, or the olive oil inside a bottle is useful in the preparation of food; but the use of each content is inherently different. The common factor for each of these materials is that they required an empty vessel to contain them.

The skeptic might look at this argument and insist that it is the product that is useful, not the container, but they miss the point. Consider what happens when an engine runs low on lubricating oil, in other words as the emptiness/fullness balance shifts toward emptiness. The workings of the engine are at risk in that case. By pouring some of the oil from the full container into the engine, lubrication is restored and the engine becomes useful again as it is no longer at risk. The balance between emptiness and fullness is critical, since low oil can result in friction that will destroy the engine, and too much will cause the  substance to overflow contaminating the environment. The balance between emptiness and fullness of the lubricating system is critical in the same way that any Yin/Yang balance is critical.

Consider the case of the container of olive oil; the contents are seen as useful, not the initial emptiness of the container. In fact, the contents of the bottle of olive oil is useful, unless  a salad dressing preparation requires it. The balance between two much olive oil and too little is critical in the preparation of the salad dressing since the balance between the oil and the other components of the salad dressing makes all the difference to the taste. A small bottle of olive oil even becomes more useful as it empties, since it can be refilled with more oil from a larger bottle.

Taoism is all about the essence of the Tao the right  path to follow. The Tao (way) of the container is determined by the choice of the artisan or manufacturer. There are many ways to alter the container’s shape or the materials used to make its designated use, but the Tao of a container is to hold something. One can pour hot tea into a glass, a cup, a mug, or a thermos. Each of these different containers can hold the tea, and each of these containers can be used to drink the tea, but each will have a characteristic that makes it more or less useful for the purpose. The common nature of these containers is that they are capable of holding hot tea. The common nature of their emptiness is that they can hold many different things. They can hold sand, sugar, flour, salt or cold liquids equally well. They can hold safe substances or dangerous substances equally. The Tao of these containers is the ability to contain a substance, not the substance they contain.

I hope the emptiness of this blog post when I clicked “new post” has been filled with useful word and ideas. Until then . .


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