The uncarved block is who we are at our core, the essence of our being. It is our pure self, our original state of being before it is shaped by various life processes. Returning to the simplicity of the uncarved block means returning to a wholeness that may currently be missing in our life. It is a place of referral we can access to guide our current experiences and choices.
The uncarved block is a symbol of our original state
“The essence of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed,” – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
To begin to understand the concept of the uncarved block, it is helpufl to compare three translations of verse 15 in the Tao Te Ching. “Whole as an uncarved block of wood.” in the John H. McDonald translation, “Shapable as a block of wood” in the translation by Stephen Mitchell and “Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood” in the translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English. Let’s see what that means to us.
“Whole” as an uncarved block of wood
“Whole” was my first personal interpretation of an uncarved block. What are we like at the core? What is our essence? The uncarved block is the center of our being. What were we before we layered our lives with experience?
“Shapable” as a block of wood
A block of wood can become anything – a practical tool, a work of art, a framework for a building. Our life experience gradually shapes our original uncarved block of self. Our beliefs dictate the shape, our responses and choices become our carving tools,
“Simple” like uncarved blocks of wood
Our life choices have shaped our uncarved block. Our goal is to find a way to let go of the form we are now in and become whole and uncarved again. Coming from the place of our uncarved block, we enjoy the simple, the quiet, and the natural. When we come from the place of our uncarved block, we do things spontaneously and then release them. We allow our life to unfold and simply shape things as they come.
What if we learn to stop where we are in our lives, go back to the essence of our uncarved block, and use what we find there to consciously shape what we want to be in this moment in time?
We can let go of form and become whole and uncarved again. We can use our instincts to make a positive choice in each situation. We can do it without the burden of experiences, which may or may not be applicable to the new one. We can consciously shape who we are in the present moment.
“Whole,” “Shapable” and “Simple” are all important concepts as we begin to make choices about living more fully from our own uncarved block.
What is at the heart of your uncarved block?
If we are to go back to pure innocence what is there? My first response was “my spiritual essence.” As I dwell on what that means I use the word “Tao.” I see it as the driving force behind all I do. It is the place I go in meditation. It is the Qi energy I feel moving through my body during Qi Gong practice. It is reached through the mantras I know. It flows through the crystals I hold, that cat I pet, and the moving leaves outside my window. It can be touched through song, or a phrase or something someone says to you. How do you experience your uncarved block? What is at the heart of your uncarved block?
What qualities of your uncarved block do you currently express in your life?
Your uncarved block is present in your life right now. Some of it may be dusty, rusted over, or layered with beliefs and emotions. However, important essences of your uncarved block have been present and shining throughout your life. What are they? The positive shapes the elements of my uncarved block have taken in my life are enthusiasm, curiosity, love of learning, my writing and the ability to see the overview while developing ideas. Think about your core, your essence. What qualities of your uncarved block do you currently express in your life?
What would you like to pull forward from the simpliciy of your uncarved block right now?
The uncarved block is unlimited in its potential. Our reality becomes the shape we carve out for ourselves. Ideally, we learn to return to an awareness of our uncarved, un-touched, un-formed self and use the simplicity of that framework to fully experience our present life. If you went back to your origins, what would you like to pull forward from the simpliciy of your uncarved block?
What would you like the essence of the uncarved block help you become?
When we return to the simplicity of our uncarved block, we eliminate all the layers of fear, limiting beliefs, uncertainty, and whatever other layers we have added in our life. What is there waiting for you? What purity of purpose can be pulled forward into your life? Your uncarved block expresses itself in your personality, your talents, and your choices. What would you like the essence of the uncarved block help you become?
What will you do to become more aware of the wholeness, shapability and simplicity of your uncarved block?
Simply becoming more aware that wholeness exists within you may be enough. Learning to make your choices from the simplicity it provides may add serenity to your life. Understanding that your choices shape your life and choosing to make those choices from that deep wisdom within your uncared block may lead you to greater self-awareness. Allow your deeper song to spring from your uncarved block.
Simplify to find wholeness
People simplify their lives so they can access the wholeness of their uncarved block. They question their perceptions, examine their thoughts, and monitor their actions and their speech. If you had a blank life to live, what would you allow into it? Learn to remain rooted in the wholeness and simplicity of your uncarved block. Chose only what nurtures you.
Your uncarved block
The uncarved block is empty of beliefs. It is present. It is free. It asks you to live in an innate, spontaneous reality. To access it, you learn to reside in the present and respond in the moment. You learn to know yourself well enough to modify some behavior that is not working and cultivate the aspects or yourself that bring you joy. You life will benefit from living in the simplicity of the uncarved block.