For me, the word “emptiness” has, historically, had a negative connotation. It seems to imply lack. It seems to imply desolation. There is something missing. Yet, it is in the emptiness that God is found. As humans, we are inclined to turn to God when there seems to be a lack. The seeming absence of good is our lives is often the impetus behind prayer. Yet the truth is that God is omnipresence and as such, has never left us. That feeling of emptiness is really just the call back to center.
In my morning reading, I came across this from Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul, ”The Tao is hollow, empty. Like the eye of a hurricane, its power is its emptiness. All things swirl around it, but it is unmoved.*”
It gave me a new appreciation for mediation.
Historically, I have not been a great meditator. Even though, as a Practitioner, it is supposed to be part of my spiritual practice, I don’t do it well (not affirming! Correction, up until now…) and so I can usually muster about five minutes of meditation in the morning and that’s it. For years, I simply skipped it. Yet, I know that God is found in the silence. When I need guidance, I have to get quiet. I can’t “hear” what I should be doing if I am distracted by ego chatter.
I was thinking about this “hearing” stuff this morning, when I paused to notice the song that was wafting through my head. (This morning it is “You Give Love a Bad Name.”) I know everyone has earworms because I have never known anyone who didn’t get a song stuck in their head. In fact, merely reading what song has been going through my head may now have caused that tune to be playing in yours.
Yet, where do you “hear” the song? It’s subtle. It’s below the surface. It’s there, but not really tangible. When I try to locate “where” it lives, I can’t find it.
Getting back to the emptiness of the Tao, Singer says that that emptiness is the center, that calm in the eye of the hurricane. “If you aren’t centered, your consciousness is just following whatever catches its attention.”
So when I meditate and the instructions are to empty my mind, I am really being told to let go of shenpa, the things that hook me and make me lose my center. I am really being instructed to allow the Divine to commune with me.
In giving up opinions and judgments, in embracing emptiness, I let go of the anxiety that comes from needing to control anything. I let go of thinking that I am supposed to know what comes next. Singer says, “When you stop being confused, everything becomes simple. If you have no preference, if the only thing you want is to remain centered, then life unfolds while you simply feel for the center.”
No longer am I beseeching God because of some sense of lack; instead I am allowing life because I am comfortable being in the emptiness, in the not-knowing. One of the deep mysteries of life is that because we are connected to the Divine, we actually have access to infinite knowledge. (How many times have you suddenly “known” something without really knowing how you knew?) Yet because ego is so good as hijacking the moment and making it all about him, that knowledge is on a need to know basis. In the Epilogue of A Course in Miracles it says, “You will be told exactly what God wills for you each time there is a choice to make. And He will speak for God and for your Self, thus making sure that hell will claim you not, and that each choice you make brings Heaven nearer to your reach.”
Embracing emptiness is about learning to allow God to lead the way, about being comfortable with ego’s uncertainty. Yet the Self is not uncertain. It is perfectly clear that the way to be happy and free is to let go of thinking that the small self knows anything. In the Rules for Decision, the Course says, “We said you can begin a happy day with the determination not to make decisions by yourself. This seems to be a real decision in itself. And yet, you cannot make decisions by yourself. The only question really is with what you choose to make them. That is really all. The first rule, then, is not coercion, but a simple statement of a simple fact. You will not make decisions by yourself whatever you decide. For they are made with idols or with God. And you ask help of anti-Christ or Christ, and which you choose will join with you and tell you what to do.”
It we don’t consciously decide to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, then ego (the Anti-Christ) will step up and fill the void.
So here’s to emptiness; to staying centered; to staying connected to Spirit. Today’s ACIM lesson says, “My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.” Yet in my willingness to be empty, I find there is nothing that needs defense and nothing that needs attack.
And that frees up all sorts of energy for embracing life and loving what is. “You should be experiencing the life that’s happening to you, not the one you wish was happening.**”
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.
*Singer, Michael A.. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (p. 169). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.
**Singer, Michael A.. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (p. 163). New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.