We can experience it as a deep gaping abyss that we’re terrified to fall into for fear of annihilation, or as the birthplace of existence, brimming with unlimited possibilities. The difference lies in whether we’re experiencing it as a wounded personal nothingness, or a profound spiritual nothingness.
As human beings we have many layers of wounded personal nothingness, which we often experience as a sense of emptiness or meaninglessness. Looking at this personal nothingness, and its birthplace in our childhood wounding, is a quest and healing journey of its own. This healing of our personal emptiness, or nothingness, is very important on the road to deep spiritual knowing.
The wounded personal nothingness is a pseudo nothingness that is used as an escape from pain on one hand, or is experienced as a feeling of deep emotional torture on another. Wounded nothingness can also be experienced as a frightening emptiness that feels as if it’s running underneath everything in our lives, and which we often try to cover up with some kind of activity, including addictions.
In contrast, the profound spiritual nothingness includes everything and is experienced completely differently.
God is infinite and therefore undefinable and uncharacterizable. As the Kabbalah says, “No thought can grasp Him.” God is limitless Being and Existence that arises out of non-existence. This limitless non-existence and Existence is called Ayn-Sof. The word Ayn means Nothingness, while Ayn Sof is said to be “the Divine origin of all created Existence.” Out of this nothingness comes the concept or possibility of everything. Out of this nothingness began the simple “Will” or “Divine Will” that was quoted by the famous 16th century Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, referred to as “the Ari.” Within this nothingness is the potential of everything, so it’s not our normal concept of nothingness. It’s a nothingness that has infinite potential contained within it.
The reason this has importance to us in our everyday life is that this rich nothingness moving into creation is how we create our lives. So with the linear perspective being able to work with this level of consciousness helps us create the life we want to live, and opening up to this spiritual nothingness allows us to create life from our greatness.
The Kabbalah teaches us that one level of nothingness, as we said, is called the Ayn Sof, which together literally means “without end,” and that can also be translated as Infinite Being, The Endless One, or the Infinite. This exploration of the “Infinite” dives into the essence of what “binds the thinker to the thought.” This is a difficult, but important concept to grasp. It is the creation point. In the Kabbalah, it is talked about as the state between potential and realization.
From the linear perspective, all creation comes from nothingness. In order to create it helps to understand the state between potential and realization. This state allows us to comprehend what literally binds the thinker to the thought. This is the pursuit of Ezekiel’s story from the Bible. He starts by noticing his rushing thoughts. When we can feel ourselves attaching to our thoughts we are at the point where creation takes place. We are a witness to our thoughts. As a witness we can let a thought go and not attach to it. Taking this another step, we can experience the awareness of coming thought and choose not to have it by letting go before it has manifested. When we know this experience we can allow ourselves to not be run by our old destructive thoughts, and our ability to stay in wholeness, while at the same time being present with our personal everyday consciousness, becomes possible. This is an exciting pursuit.
Noticing our thoughts, and being aware of the thinker, helps us work with and unravel our belief systems. This unraveling of our belief systems can also be experienced in the mindful inquiry of Psychotherapy. This is important in our development because as we become more and more aware of the thoughts and feelings that arise inside of us, we can start to notice the entangled threads of our consciousness, and our attachments to these thoughts and ingrained belief systems.
Nothingness, or the Infinite, is the glue that literally binds together the threads in the fabric of the universe. So nothingness and somethingness are interdependent or co-arising. They are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.
When we have processed our personal woundings enough, and are able to sit in this profound level of empty nothingness, we experience this kind of nothingness or presence as light-empty and boundless. We feel freedom and release. We feel ourselves and the entire manifest world as fullness, and at the same time as a deep restful nothingness. In meditation, this empty spaciousness is often experienced as deep relaxation, spacious no-thought or can be felt as diamonds or nectars of some kind. This is the pure presence, or nothingness, that the fullness of being arises from. Psychologically we feel this as openness and kindness toward ourselves and others.
In quantum physics this nothingness with potential is called “enfolded reality.” Enfolded with an “e” is the potential of everything, while unfolded with a “u” is the potential manifested. So, there is an unfolding of the whole of creation from the enfolded state of potential. The famous Physicist, David Bohm, saw life as an undivided wholeness enfolded into an infinite background source that unfolds into the visible, material, and temporal world of our everyday lives. He said that thought can grasp the unfolded, but only something beyond thought, like intuition, unmediated insight, or intelligence, can experience the enfolded.
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