Spirituality is being introduced to- and in many people, these days, and the growing number makes it easier for the Ones on the Way, to live with their decision to reconnect to the Source within. There is, however a mutual misunderstanding happening within the spiritual circles, that spirituality is all about Love and Light.
Consciously walking your path is also about embracing the darker side of Self and fully experiencing the deep-felt emptiness. What is Spiritual Emptiness, or the Void? To answer this, we must first find out if it is possible to discover its essence within our being. Since the essence of Being is complete peace and stillness without reflection or any kind of manifestation or projection, could the essence of Being in of itself be called Emptiness? We must turn to the language of symbols to convey what it means since Emptiness is a level of mind and consciousness, a level of realization that belongs to all traditions.
For example, in the Vajra, a ritualistic instrument used in Tantric Buddhism, Emptiness is represented by the central dot and symbolizes a focal point, the seed of the spirit in which everything is in a potential but static state. It also characterizes the central axis and heart of the universe. Vajra literally means the diamond scepter or the thunderbolt.
Emptiness is also linked to the creative Void, meaning that it is a state of complete receptivity and perfect enlightenment. It represents the disappearance of, or more precisely the merging of, the ego with its own essence, which in the Western tradition is called the Universal Soul or the Unknown God, and in Buddhism is called the Clear Light.
When we’re hurting, it’s not uncommon to look for ways to fill the void. The void is made up of the empty, lonely feelings that stem from holes in our heart and soul. Sometimes these holes are fresh wounds like a breakup, death in the family, health issues or losing our job. Sometimes they stem from something much deeper, like a lack of connection with family growing up, a childhood trauma, or hurt caused by someone in our past.
The Void is the terrifying sense of irremediable desolation that occurs for all of us from time to time in life. Sometimes it is triggered by a crisis or loss. Sometimes it looks like it happens for no apparent reason. It can vanish as mysteriously as it arrives. The Void confronts us with a stubborn silence beyond our ability to escape or interrupt it. This Dark Night of encircling gloom is felt only as emptiness, vacancy, a wilderness with no oasis. No amount of self-esteem can over-ride or evade it. It is a condition beyond conditions.
The experience of the Void means no foothold, no handle on things, no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. It is not quite adequately described as aloneness, loneliness, emptiness, forsakenness, abandonment, desperation, isolation, or even despair. It is all of these at once!
The Void is the Shadow of the mind. It is the hidden unreliable side of our functional ego. To say that “nothing works” in the Void means that the mind, no matter how intelligent or functional, goes bankrupt when the chips are truly down. Its half measures avail nothing in the face of the true terror.
Releasing the Ego Mind
Now what? When we simply pay attention to the Void, the inner stagnation may awaken and begin to live in a new way. To face the naked truth about ourselves nakedly is all we can or need to do. The Void is a mirror of the “space” that is ourselves. The Void is the emptiness we always assumed we had to fill, but actually only had to face. “Was every choice I made, every activity I chose, a way of eluding this trickster that wanted to call me by name?’’
We are trying so hard to avoid ever having to face the Void. Yet, to contain and relax into our own emptiness makes room for a deeply compassionate love to emerge. The vacancy becomes spaciousness and we open ourselves to all who suffer as we do. This is how aloneness plays a key role in the release of unconditional love.
Crossing the abyss is inevitable along the path towards spiritual enlightenment. Eckhart Tolle and others describe this moment of transfiguration. It is rumored that the void is not empty, but the mind cannot comprehend its fathomless depths. At the crossing, the ego can see nothing, only its own self-destruction. The Buddha does not say what enlightenment is, only what it is not. It is not suffering. The rest is meant to be experienced.