Through the use of logic, you see the limits of logic. Through the limits of logic, you see the use of logic. Everything is useful in some way and useless in another. So, you cannot ask a fish to cross the Serengeti in the same way that cannot ask a cheetah to swim the Channel. Everything is useful, everything is useless. This is the nature of all things.
Nothing is completely useless
There is something to be taken from everything. And, whenever I hear people disparaging someone or something as completely useless, I am reminded of Chuang Tzu’s knotty tree.
The story goes that Hui Tzu complained to Chuang Tzu (Chinese Philosopher, 4th Century BC) about a species of large tree that was so irregular and knotty, with its twisted branches that it was no use to any carpenter. Chuang Tzu’s replied as follows:
“So, you have a large tree and are anxious about its uselessness. Why don’t you plant it in the domain of non-existence, in a wide and barren wild? By its side you may wander in non-action; under it you may sleep in happiness. Neither bill nor axe would shorten its term of existence. Being of no use to others, it itself would be free from harm”.
Such stories were used to illustrate that everything has its own fitness and use— somewhere, somehow. This principle applies to us humans too — we each have our own self-nature and can become more attuned to it (you may find out more about self-nature in the video below).
Mind constantly worries if everything is useful or if everything is useless
It’s natural to dissect and delineate the world. That is how we survive and make sense of things. It is the attempt to pass ultimate value judgements and cling to these that causes problems. The ego mind, in its desperate attempt to control and dominate everything, loves to cling to definitions. Rights and wrongs, goods and bads! Definitions that it might then go on to believe are eternal with some ultimate truth.
But, this is a fallacy. Because in the end, we cannot have good without bad, or right without wrong, in the same way that we cannot have, up without down, or in without out.
Everything is mutually dependent and mutually arising.
Through usefulness, we see uselessness more clearly and through uselessness we find usefulness.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.