The Uncarved Block


The following is a verse taken fro the classic Tao Te Ching whose authorship is attributed to the great Chinese sage, Lao Tzu. The eternal source of all things, the TAO as it is called here, cannot be named or expressed in words, but can only be lived. The verse is so simple, yet profound, I have chosen the heading myself. So, let us see what the great sage is trying to tell us:

“Know the strength of man,

But keep a woman’s care!

Be the stream of the universe!

Being the stream of the universe,

Ever true and unswerving,

Become as a little child once more.


Know the white,

But keep the black!

Be an example to the world!

Being an example to the,

Ever true and unswerving,

Return to the infinite.


Know honor,

Yet keep humility.

Be the valley of the universe!

Being the valley of the universe,

Ever true and resourceful,

Return to the state of the uncarved block.


When the block is carved, it becomes useful.

When the sage uses it, he becomes the ruler.

Thus, “A great tailor cuts little.”


-Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Verse 28.

(Translated by Gia –Fu Feng and Jane English.)

The verse expresses the need to operate from our true nature, or working from the Tao, where peace and harmony resides, and by returning to that and working from our peaceful nature can we bring harmony into our outward environment.

In the first verse it is pointed out to be aware of our strength, the strength of man as it is referred to the masculine nature and yet to keep a woman’s care, the gentle, nurturing and preserving attitude of the feminine is called for to maintain balance. Being the stream of the universe is just being, letting nature just flow, to just observe and allow nature to take its course without any resistance. The key point to note is to act from humility. By doing this, the true nature of the Tao will not be diminished and it is to become like a little child, all innocence, no judgement and just letting things be as they are flowing in their own natural way.

In the second verse, the sage living the Tao invites one to live in a virtuous way, the way of the Tao. To see nature unspoilt by culture. The pattern of the world, which is unspoilt by humans, is the manifestation of the Tao, the mother of 10,000 things, perfect as it is, needs nothing to be improved. Rather than resist or change, just go along with the flow, trusting in the perfection of the Tao and returning to infinity by letting go of the ego.

The third verse reminds the importance of living virtuously, acknowledging honour, yet at the sametime to act humbly. This is calling for action in accordance with the way of the Tao, the eternal power, the source of everything.

Being the valley of the universe, it is being resourceful, creating and retreating, ever flowing, forming and unforming. The uncarved block, signifies the state of Absoluteness, no edges, no boundaries, nothing touches it, the endless state ever gushing forth the abundant life. Being the valley of the universe is to act with humility, free from the ego and just being resourceful, just letting nature flow or go with the Tao.

Finally, carving the block is the bringing forth of that nature to the physical level, living from the state of Absoluteness, the sage acts in accordance to its true nature, and hence is a ruler by way of knowing that everything in the universe is perfect as it is. The uncarved block is then returning to the original source before its manifestation, the Absolute state.

This is the way of the Tao, or the spiritually Enlightened sage when he lives in service to what he/she has been gifted with by Grace. This subtle essence, spoken of in many cultures by different names, is the source of creation and can only be revealed by a Master who has become that Absolute Being and can then give it to those who truly seek it. The Master is here now, the moment is right and the opportunity to realize that wisdom is here. Those who are serious can contact me through this website and I will be more than happy to assist.

J. Paul Mahay

4 thoughts on “The Uncarved Block

  1. Thank you for distilling into words that which cannot be spoken or named – a difficult task to accomplish unless you are the Enlightened Sage that you refer to in the final paragraph.

    1. Hi Richard,
      Yes, you are quite right in saying that it is a difficult task to try and put that into words which cannot be spoken or named. The simplicity of expression comes from that Being which itself is so simple but profound. Thanks for your appreciation.

  2. excellent reading….of what was expanded in most beautiful way…Tao…the way….for all of us…who seek guidance and grace to shower upon us.
    Thank you dear Mr.Joginder Mahay Sir for your wonderful and kind effort

    1. Hi Rajeev,
      Thank you for your appreciation and yes, the Tao Te Ching is a great classic and makes an attempt to express that which cannot be put into words, however, we have to use some form of a language to convey the message. Once again, I am glad that you have found it useful.

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