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What is Spiritual Emptiness, or the Void? To answer this, we must first find out if it is possible to discover its essence within our being. Since the essence of Being is complete peace and stillness without reflection or any kind of manifestation or projection, could the essence of Being in of itself be called Emptiness? We must turn to the language of symbols to convey what it means, since Emptiness is a level of mind and consciousness, a level of realization that belongs to all traditions.

For example, in the Vajra, a ritualistic instrument used in Tantric Buddhism, Emptiness is represented by the central dot and symbolizes a focal point, the seed of the spirit in which everything is in a potential but static state. It also characterizes the central axis and heart of the universe. Vajra literally means the diamond scepter, or the thunderbolt.

Emptiness is also linked to the creative Void, meaning that it is a state of complete receptivity and perfect enlightenment. It represents the disappearance of, or more precisely the merging of, the ego with its own essence, which in Western tradition is called the Universal Soul or the Unknown God, and in Buddhism is called the Clear Light.

This merging of ego with its source could also be explained as the experience of infinite space, a frame of mind that confers us with the realization of the interdependence of all phenomena in creation, an experience that bestows an incredible degree of being true to ourselves, in that when our ego merges with its source, truth becomes impersonal, "being without reflection, personal opinions and judgments." Consciousness in such a case blends and becomes part of the Unknown God, the Unmanifested Light of Being. In Western Hermetic tradition, this level of attainment is called the Philosophers Stone. So again, what do we mean by Emptiness? In Christianity, it is represented by the center of the cross and the swastika, the basic principle at the center of the Wheel of the Universe, from which all flows and to which all returns; the center that is everywhere and nowhere.

Has reality a connection with Emptiness? Reality changes all the time. It moves and is transformed incessantly by the interpretation and experiences of our individual ego. Reality is part of life as it brings the necessary changes and meanings that we all need to express ourselves. However, with the incessant changes that we all need, realities seem to change with the transformation of consciousness. It can never be fixed, never be constant, but remains limited in time and space. Reality is as fluid as water, as ephemeral as air, and therefore, in itself, can never be rooted, anchored or possessed, since it comprises nothing other than changing appearances. So clearly, since reality is a projection of our own understanding of something, Emptiness is devoid of reality.

However, as the letters of the alphabet are "tools" to build and interpret the written word, realities are the tools that our psyche uses to interpret and understand the world around it. Our psyche translates and perceives realities as symbols, but since this process of reading and understanding realities takes place in a world of duality, then realities belong to the world of the ego, which interprets and understands them. Hence, realities have nothing to do with the level of consciousness called Emptiness or the Void, since in the Void, there are no manifestations.

Emptiness designates a state of mind, an inner level of consciousness based upon the renunciation of what one believes to be real, beyond all comprehension or lack of comprehension. Emptiness is, therefore, a higher level of the mind, an attunement with "nothing," i.e., with Pure Being that has no reflection at all. This is the revelation that the abstract or higher mind of a spiritual man receives. He is called "spiritual" because his mind is open and in harmony with the whole of creation, or the Unknown God. Hence, such a man is empty of a personal "interpretation" and is in touch with the world of spirit. As he manifests the world of spirit within him, a new one opens up before him, giving him a new understanding of life. A spiritual man is a mystic at heart, and his mind mirrors the mind of Pure Being. Therefore, his mind and thought processes are enlightened. And, since this transformation comes from the source of all knowledge, it automatically opens the gates of Divine Wisdom for him. Such a man is devoid of personal feelings or opinions, unless it be the feeling of deep compassion for all living things.

Returning to the question of what we mean by Emptiness, it is difficult to explain because it represents a purified level of consciousness in which objects and creatures are seen as transitory realities. Hence, we could say that Emptiness in itself is the source of Being and therefore formless. However, since it is the source of Being, it nevertheless nurtures all realities. Symbolically, we could say that Emptiness is the dark womb of creation.

Painting by Alex Gray



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