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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