Last time, I wrote about Finding Quietness (and thanks for the thoughtful comments!) Yet I’m finding myself avoiding emptiness these days. If it isn’t the To Do list or appointments or group meetings, it’s TV or Facebook or Twitter or Angry Birds or Words with Friends. I feel very modern and up-to-date with my smart phone, tablet and laptop!
But I have to ask myself, what am I avoiding? Why am I filling up almost every moment with some activity or distraction? Why am I not letting myself take the time to meditate, or work on editing the second book of my trilogy, the Star-Seer’s Prophecy, or go for a walk somewhere quiet and beautiful?
Anxiety comes up when I ask these questions. There’s that voice again, wailing “But there’s so much to do!” And I sense something deeper: a sense of terror, which was crystallized into awareness for me and many others by the massacre at Sandy Hook. Feeling this terror makes it difficult to settle down into myself, makes me want to run away to some place where kindness and beauty rule, or at least to watch some program where the good guys win.
I’m sensing another layer to my avoidance of emptiness. If I’m not doing something, then … who am I? At first this is a scary, even terrifying, question. “What do you do?” is often the first question we ask someone we’ve just met. We define ourselves so often by our work, careers, accomplishments. Take those away, and how do we know who we are? I recently saw that who I think I am is just a pile of pictures in my mind, poses and attitudes that I assume are me.
Fortunately, I’ve also learned through meditation and other spiritual practices that there’s a quiet presence underneath all my busy-ness and thoughts, poses and plans. Very simple. Very quiet. Very still. Yet present. Awareness without content. Emptiness.
From the busy ego’s point of view, this emptiness is scary. So it takes a conscious choice to let go of all the “to do’s” and go into the emptiness. Yet when I do, it’s like finally arriving home after a long, challenging journey.
- How do you define yourself?
- Does emptiness scare you, or do you find it restful?
- Do you have ways to let go into emptiness?
Here’s a poem I wrote after spending a few days alone in the desert by Pyramid Lake on a vision quest. I hope it may bring you into that delicious clarity of emptiness that I found there. (Note: the spacing is part of the poem.)
Sea becoming desert
Stately circling stars
Endless dance of lizard love