Saturday, January 23, 2010

"The Void", Emptiness, Sunyata

I was recently asked by a reader if I had any information on "The Void". The man who asked the question had encountered "The Void" in a meditation practice he had been doing. He found the experience very peaceful, but wanted more information. He quoted some sayings of the Buddha in his question.
Below is my response to him. (Any mistakes are purely my own and do not reflect the teachings of my teacher.):

Here are some other names for The Void:
India/Hinduism: Shunyata, Sunyata

Tibetan Buddhism:
Clear Light
Emptiness (state of being empty)
Skylike Vastness (where our perceptions are clouds)
Basic Space
Luminous Emptiness
Tibetan metaphor: Sky, Mirror-like
In Vajrayana, we steer away from the term "void" because Westerners often mistake it for nihilism

Zen Khensho: seeing one's true nature

Kabbalah: at the top of the tree of life is the sphere Kether ("crown"), and above the crown is AIN, nothingness

Sufi: The Unknowing that is Knowing, Invisible Black Light, state of Spiritual Poverty (were "poverty" emptiness)

This is an authentic spiritual experience.  My understanding of the Buddha's teachings on emptiness is this: All that we experience is an illusion, in the sense that it is like a dream. We are all wisdom beings who reside in Pristine Awareness  but we have forgotten this fact. That is why humanity is said to be asleep. They have forgotten the Vast Pure Wisdom that they really are. Glimpsing the void is remembering who you really are. The point of true meditation and an authentic spiritual path is to create habits that will support remembering our true nature.

The tricky part is this: the ego is afraid of the Void, because it senses it may be annihilated. The work of the path is to trick the ego into experiencing Insight in a spontaneous way. In Western Occultism, there are many sad tales of premature exposure to The Void. This why an authentic teacher is so important.

My personal experiences include a near death experience: I was not able to be in my body. I found myself trying to talk to my daughter (who couldn't see me), then I was in the future witnessing future events. Finally I was in that beautiful space that you described in your question to me. All this took place in 45 minutes. 

So, you see, your glimpse into the The Void as brought you to the very core of why we have Spiritual Traditions.

Like you have pointed out, this is a hard topic to describe. Forgive me if i have not clarified very well!


Synchronicity Note: withing minutes of posting this I picked up a book at random from by bookshelf: MOEBIUSTRIP, by Giti Thadini. The book opened on the last page and these words jumped out at me:

"It is the face of zero, of sunya.
It has a unique enigma.
It is indivisible."

The writer ends her story at a goddess shrine in Kunzam Pass (India). Upon opening it she discovers a mirror: emptiness.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post and great synchro there at the end! I think we get hung up in language sometimes. I prefer thinking of "the face of zero" than of "void."