The Overwhelmingness of Emptiness
Try to picture yourself floating in a dark, black room, with no sound, no smell, and no noticeable air friction. It is totally void of any substance that could trigger your senses. There is no background noise. That is hard enough as it is.
Then try to also get rid of everything you think, all your values, your desires, your fears, your plans, your expectations, your assumptions, your beliefs, and… well, you get the idea. Try to experience something like “true emptiness”.
This is so hard that Buddhist monks have to learn how to meditate on emptiness for years on end.
Our minds are busy organizers. They continuously shape our mental universe, our mindscape, into a meaningful whole.
You can see this in the way optical illusions work, and in the way the memory of witnesses of a crime lets itself be reshaped, making it susceptible to suggestion and prone to mistakes. You can see it in the way psychologists use varieties of the Rorschach Inkblot Test, where the minds of their clients see meaningful patterns into what in reality are just random patterns of inkblots on a piece of paper.
What does this suggest? Our minds want to create meaning. What psychology and other sciences reveal about this might just as well be the tip of the iceberg.
And natural sciences already suggests a deeper level of reality where things are behaving counter-intuitively.
I would like to take it to another extreme: the “real” deeper level of reality is not in any way definite and is much more profound, non-dual and yet infinitely diverse, and unimaginably more fluid than we could ever perceive in our current state of mind. It is like an infinitely small and dense dot where timeless, spaceless reality is a coexistence of endless possibilities, that never take absolute form, but still are able to take meaningful forms and shape meaningful experiences.
Here in mindscape things are finite. We have limits, we die, things break apart, and time passes without ever repeating the same point on the grand scale of history. Here we see certain colors and discriminate them from a small set of others. We observe shapes and clearly recognize them as objective entities that are separate from others. But what if you really try to experience a greater depth in the things you see? If you see a place in nature with a lot of green colors, maybe your mind will notice a few shades, but that’s it. But what if you try to meditate on one shade of green, and then try to experience thousands if not millions of different shades and a kind of perception of “greenness” that connects them all in a kind of unlimited flow, like a never-ending rainbow?
This is just a first little step on the path to trying to understand and appreciate the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.
And yet, it is empty. It is as empty as the dark black room I mentioned earlier, even emptier. That does not sound as beauty, does it? That does not sound like the overwhelming beauty of deeper reality.
The fault lies with your mind. By emptiness I mean the absence of substance of the mind. Absence of the mind is hardly possible, as we are still living in this current reality. But emptiness can be achieved. It requires us to surrender all our presumptions, beliefs, emotions, values, morals, ideas, shapes, percepts, knowledge, and our experience of space and time. It asks us to let go of everything that dictactes reality, everything that our mind tries to influence or control. And when surrendering this, at the same time we surrender ourselves to what lies beneath this “emptiness”, which is in reality overwhelming emptiness, as it is the very opposite of emptiness. Deeper reality is the fullness of emptiness, it is the screaming silence and the flashing darkness, it is shy humility that overpowers you with unimaginable force. It is the smiling diamond that is both fluid AND crystallized, it is every possible shape and percept AT THE SAME TIME, in a now, a present, that never ends. Of course, the words “time” and “end” do not apply, but such are the limitations of language, which is connected to the mind, being is bound to the same limits.
So, if surrendering to deeper reality is so wonderful, why is it so hard?
One word: EGO. Our mind is like an organism, it tries to survive and shape its environment. If fears the unknown, it fears chaos, it fears the unexpected and things it cannot comprehend. It fears this, because it means it cannot maintain its equilibrium, its order, its comfortable little universe that makes sense and gives meaning. But change IS inevitable, just as it is necessary. The comfortable mindscape is actually suffocating and it slowly dies, turning into a meaningless void, a psychological hell. Like in the theory of an expanding universe where the distance between stars will grow so vast, and the temperature and energy levels will decrease to such an extent, that it will become like a frozen void. Why is this? Why can’t the mind just create its own meaning? Because it is not FIT to create meaning. It gets its inspiration not from itself, but from deeper reality, which triggers the unconscious. The ego, the control center of the mind, does not want to acknowledge this, and so struggle and suffering are the logical consequences.
The more the ego resists, the more suffering it will cause, and the more rigid its little orderly universe will be in response. It will experience mental chaos as a result of fighting change, and at times it may give in and surrender, but without full-hearted surrender of the spiritual consciousness that actually falsely identifies itself with the mind, it is bound to return to its rigid state.
So, emptiness is beauty, and it requires our FULL surrender, which may take a lifetime to accomplish, but is fully and utterly worth it, because it is more than anything else in mindscape can ever be!