Emptiness, clarified

A friend of mine left a comment on my post on The Mystery of Emptiness and said that the term emptiness bothers her, and she’d like for me to clarify it. Well, how could I resist?

In the past, I’ve used the word “God” quite liberally on this site… in plain and simple language, That is what it’s about. Yet, I find after this latest glimpse, whch I wrote about in, The Suck, I want to write more carefully, and avoid words which easily give false impressions. False impressions are unavoidable, but “loaded” words like God can’t come to anyone without years of conceptual and emotional baggage that prevent communication.

So when I want to write carefully, I make up pronouns like This and That, and It. Eckhart Tolle usually uses the words “Being” or “the Unmanifest” instead of “God.” Other teachers say “the One,” “Consciousness” or “Awareness.” Kabbalah calls This Ein Sof, Endlessness. Zennists speak of Emptiness, the Void, and No-Thing. I agree with Julie–there is something unsettling about those last three. Our mind wants Something, not Nothing.

In that poem, I tried to show something of how wonderful pure Emptiness is. All Creation streams from It, like an empty glass that you can drink from forever without it running dry! Yes, it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s what’s so amazing!

Emptiness cannot be clarified, because it is the essence of clarity.
Emptiness writ large, is spaciousness.
Emptiness writ small is no-Thing.
Emptiness held by a form is capacity.
Emptiness holding a form is boundlessness.
Emptiness explored is void.
Emptiness manifest is everything.
Emptiness loved is God.

Emptiness can be quite frightening when you’re attached to Somethingness. As that falls away, It feels very different, like a white movie screen the Universe is projected upon. Or it’s like an empty canvas holding all possibilites, which you approach with a brush, whittling away the potential images until the one you paint is the one it presents.

Meister Eckhart wrote that when our soul is pure and empty, God cannot fail to shine in it, just as the sun cannot fail to shine on a cloudless day.

I’ll stop with a thought from Lao-Tzu:

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole which makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that maks it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

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Something there is…

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.

israelwall.jpgThe Wall. If there was a receipe for fueling the resentment that in turn fuels terrorism, this is it.

I’m thinking of how enlightenment teachers emphasize that waking up is necessary for us to stop the madness of war, violence and oppression. Karma is rather simple to understand; you don’t have to be enlightened to see it. Resentment unresolved leads to violence, which leads to violent responses, which lead to more resentment. . . and the wheel keeps on turning on the axis of attachment, hatred and ignorance.

Sarah Walker, a Columbia seminary student created a beautiful, thought-provoking, photo essay on the wall from a Christian point of view: The Gospel according to . . . The photos are by Adam Cleaveland, a Princeton seminarian who spent last summer in Bethlehem, and whose blog pomomusinngs

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End of the Spear

End of the Spear picEnd of the Spear isn’t a masterpiece on a par with The Mission, but in spite of its low budget and naive manner, it is a very moving story of the power of love to conquer fear, hatred, and violence.

It’s based on the true story of the missionaries who made first contact with the Waodani people of Ecuador, at a time in which they were so involved in revenge killings they were in danger of annihilating themselves off the map. Soon after their initial contact, all five of the missionary men were slaughtered by the Waodani. Yet two years later (in the movie it looks like a few weeks later), Dayumae, a Waodani girl who had lived with the missionaries’ families, returns to the tribe, and brings with her some of the wives of the men who were killed.

Dayumae presents the Gospel in the most simple and profound words:

Oenagongi had a Son: Even though he was speared, he did not spear back.

I love this gospel! I would like so much to hear it proclaimed in America! (In fact, Mincayani, the leader of this Waodani band, eventually came to America with Steven Saint (the son of the missionary he killed) telling how their tribe renounced violence. Are we listening?

I found the “path of the spear” timeline on the official site to be almost as good as the movie itself (and more informative). (Note also the link to Beyond the Gates of Splendor, a documentary of this story which has received better reviews from critics.) Another excellent stop is the Wikipedia article on the Huarani/Waodani people.