Welcoming emptiness

In our amped-up modern world there’s little room for emptiness. We revere logic. We worship getting and doing. We fill our lives with people, places, and things. Little wonder emptiness is alien to us—it goes against everything we’ve been taught to believe.

The word emptiness itself brings to mind a brooding void. Even Webster's Dictionary suggests emptiness has no worth and claims it's useless.

And, when you get down to it, emptiness is about nothing. No thing at all. Nada. About as practical as a pair of sandals in a blizzard.

Yet in this void that at first seems so monotonous and bleak, lies divine consciousness, the place where we find peace; where all is well.

In this emptiness exists the opportunity for a respite from the never-ending ferment of thoughts and feelings. This is where we discover an absence of emotional suffering. This is where we abide in presence.                                                           

Meister Eckhart

in his famous sermons, fourteenth-century German Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, delved into the nature of emptiness. Here, in these paragraphs from Maurice Walshe's The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, he explores its promise:

As for what it profits you to pursue this possibility, to keep yourself empty and bare, just following and tracking this darkness and unknowing without turning back—it contains the chance to gain Him who is all things...

For you to know God in God’s way, your knowing must be a pure unknowing, and a forgetting of yourself and all creatures...

You cannot do better than to place yourself in darkness and in unknowing... The only name it has is potential receptivity... it is the potential of receptivity in which you will be perfected.

The emptiness Eckhart speaks of—the void most of us overlook for a lifetime—shows us serenity and the magic of abiding in presence.

In this undiminished unknowing we leave behind priests and popes, gurus and sages. We relinquish rituals, petitionary prayer, and meditative techniques. In their place we come face to face with perfect peace.

This is the emptiness that points to non-doing, to letting go, to surrender. Here in the void where nothing is known, the infinite makes itself known.

No-thing at all

Your true home is in nothingness, in emptiness of all content... You face it most cheerfully, when you go to sleep!

—Nisargadatta Maharaj I Am That, translated by Maurice Frydman.

The Void is not of the nature of a black abyss or a bottomless pit. Rather its nature is “vast and expansive like space itself.” It is apprehended as ”serene, marvellous, all-pure, brilliant and all-inclusive.“

—Wei Wu Wei, Ask the Awakened

One sinks into this abyss, and in it is God’s own dwelling-place... Whoever finds his way there would truly find God and himself one with God.

—Johannes Tauler

Johannes Tauler Sermons

When we finally let go into the void that we so fear, we find it to be  amazingly peaceful, relaxing and joyous. The actuality of this moment is not

scary at all.

—Joan Tollifson

Painting the Sidewalk with Water