Welcome to the “Emptiness” lesson, which will describe, inform, and introduce you to one of the core expansive qualities of Awareness itself.
What is Emptiness?
The term “emptiness” has been used throughout many traditions; spiritual traditions especially. I’m interested in conveying to you the experience of Emptiness, rather than a philosophical view of what it is.
So, bear with me as I explain Emptiness from my own experience, in many seemingly random ways, so you can use this as a way to tap into that experience yourself. Simply by listening to my words, simply by listening to me expounding upon the nature of Awareness and its quality of Emptiness, you can tap into that frequency. You can tap into that realization, and make it your own direct experience. You can start glimpsing it and realizing it and becoming convinced of it.
Many of the qualities of Awareness are very similar; they have a close alignment with each other. There is Emptiness, there is Formlessness, there is Spaciousness. These are slightly different angles, and they are useful to help you start recognizing the qualities of Awareness. Even though you realized in the previous lesson that Awareness is not a state, Awareness does have innate qualities that can be enjoyed and tapped into and utilized.
Emptiness Can Be Experienced as the Absence of Solidity
Emptiness is the experience of the absence of solidity, you could say. Think about that for a second. What does it mean? It means that the solidity we give to things—by means of our definitions, our ideas about objects, our beliefs about how reality is structured, how it works, what it’s made out of—is not made of “matter,” as most people believe. But we’ll see that in Enlightenment III: Separability.
For now, realize that Emptiness can be experienced as the absence of solidity. You may have already experienced this in previous chapters when you were relaxing your mind, when you were giving away all thoughts. Suddenly, there might have been a quality of Emptiness to the appearances you saw.
You have observed that appearances come and go, come and go, appear and disappear. So, you have realized that appearances have the ability to simply arise out of thin air, out of Emptiness. They are seemingly present for a while, and then, when you are no longer experiencing them, they disappear back into Emptiness. Now here’s the thing: Even while appearances are present, they still exist in, and as, this Emptiness.
Awareness Is Essentially EmptyAwareness is essentially devoid of substance. Yes, it has the illusory Presence-Energy at its disposal—the divine yet illusory Presence-Energy—to create and project whatever it needs to, to generate the experiences it wants to experience, so that it can express Infinity in all the ways that it can think of. However, just because Awareness has at its disposal this creative Love-Light Presence-Energy, that does not mean there is actual substance in the universe.
In other words, even Presence-Energy creates an appearance when it forms itself into a certain form. If you could take your consciousness and become microscopic to enter the objects, to enter the appearances, you would find nothing but Emptiness. You would find nothing but empty, vast Intelligence.
This can be realized. This can be directly experienced—more so every time you practice in order to experience this, because desire is key to whatever you want to realize. All you need is the desire to realize it, and BAM! You’re right there. You start to tune into it, you start to tap into that reality, that realization. You start to download the vibration or the vibratory state of Consciousness that contains that lesson—that contains the realization that sees life from that particular point of view. Again, as I expound on the nature of Emptiness, allow yourself to absorb what I’m sharing. Allow yourself to download the experience my words are coming from and what they are pointing to.
Imagine reaching out your hand through appearances that come up. Your hand represents your consciousness. Imagine being able to grasp through appearances, through objects, without your hand ever colliding with the appearance; without molecules actually existing. This is what the experience of Emptiness starts to feel like, especially when it meets appearances.
When I am aware of appearances coming up, they seem solid. Well, they no longer seem solid to me, but they seem solid from a logical, collective perspective, so I can tap into that. I can see them as solid if I want to. Not really, but I can assume that position for a moment.
An appearance comes up, and it seems solid to your mind. But when you relax, you can allow your attention to, in a sense, move through the appearances, or tune into the insides of the appearances. What you will notice is that you can start to sense and feel and observe that there is this energy; there is Intelligence shaping patterns of energy, patterns of geometry, patterns of light and love. However, beyond even that energy, inside of that energy, so to speak, there is nothing but spacious Emptiness.
Appearances Do Not Have Any Substance
Appearances don’t have any basis other than Awareness and Awareness’ Presence-Energy. An object, let’s say a rock, does not actually consist of “rock molecules.” On a certain level, we can say that it does consist of rock molecules, and we can talk about that and we can observe that. But the deeper you go into the Awareness experience, and into the Emptiness experience, the more you will be able to notice and recognize the infinite, endless, empty intelligence inside of, in this example, a rock.
You can start to see that molecules are nothing but “empty shells.” Molecules are nothing but projections of empty space, of empty clarity, of empty Awareness.
Another way to see this is to consider one of your dreams at night. Aren’t dreams quite empty when you think back on them? Doesn’t it feel like you could just use that hand, use that Consciousness, and grasp through them like they are made out of clouds, made out of space, made out of air? The same applies to the waking dream, which is what we call “being awake” or “being alive.” But really, it’s no different from the perspective of Awareness, because an experience is an experience. It doesn’t matter how solid or in what stage it seems to be.
To Awareness, experience is experience, perception is perception. Your dream at night and your dream during the day, from Awareness’ point of view, are equally valid experiences. One is not more real than the other. But again, when you go back to your memory of a dream at night, you can get a sense of how it is just an empty projection inside of Awareness.
The things you perceive are not actual “things.” You can know that when you are awake or while you are lucid dreaming, perhaps. However, if you are dreaming and you are unconscious of the fact that you are in a dream state, then things seem solid, things seem real, things seem valid, things seem solidified. They seem like they are made out of a real substance—matter perhaps. When you wake up, however, you remember, you recognize, “Oh, that was all just a dream.”
“Just a dream” does not mean that the experience was not relevant and equally valid compared to any other physical experience. When we say “It was just a dream,” we are really saying that it was just an empty illusion. It did not have any actual substance of its own; it did not consist of any concrete materials. That’s what we’re saying when we say, “Ah, it was just a nightmare,” or “It was just a dream.” We are referring to the empty nature of perceptions.
Why don’t we extrapolate that to the “waking dream” life as well? Not many of us do, but some people have realized this. Some philosophers, centuries ago, realized this—that everything is actually Emptiness. Nowadays, scientists are also discovering that the “smaller” they go, the more microscopic they go, the more quantum level they go—the more space just appears to be there, the more Emptiness seems to be there, and the less things appear to be actual, solid objects. In fact, I think it is almost a common understanding by now that physical reality is really not very “physical” at all. I think many scientists and many physicists would agree with this statement at this time.
It is time for us to catch up. It is time for us to experience this—not to just observe it through a microscope or observe it through other technological means—but to actually experience what it is like to tap into the sense of Emptiness. In a way, this cannot really be taught, because it has to come naturally and it has to be you who wants to tap into this sense of Emptiness.
Tapping into Emptiness
There are a couple of ways we can go about tapping into Emptiness. Well, there are many ways, but let’s address two ways for now. The first way is to simply use your imagination. Observe your everyday reality, but imagine that it is empty. Imagine that the appearances and objects that occur within your field of Awareness are actually nothing but dreamlike appearances. They are nothing but insubstantial, empty, energy appearances.
Imagine that you can actually reach through them with this “Consciousness hand” of yours; with this sense of yourself. Your sense of yourself can extend itself through the analogy of that hand and it can reach through the object. Imagine your sense of self moving through the object. Imagine your sense of your body almost moving through other objects. But also imagine your sense of Consciousness, or your sense of I-AM, being able to move through your own body. Your own body is not solid either; it is also made out of empty, illusory, projection energy.
As I just explained, one way to tap into Emptiness is to simply imagine the Emptiness inside of objects. Take an object, let’s say a rock, and sit with it for a while. Imagine it is completely hollow and empty on the inside. Sure, it may have illusory energetic patterns that keep the structure appearing—that keep the structure of the rock seemingly apparent to Consciousness, seemingly defined and unique and present as a rock. But really, inside all of those vibrations, inside all of those energetic projections, there is no real, solid substance; matter is nowhere to be found.
Imagine a matter-less universe, or at least a matter-less object. Imagine that it is just an empty shell within which there is nothing but Emptiness. When you enter the rock using your Consciousness, using your imagination, even the shell of the rock, which makes it appear like it is a rock, is itself not structured, not solid. It is actually pervaded by Emptiness.
When you do this, rather than just seeing or imagining that the insides of a rock are empty, you can extrapolate it to “everything is empty” and make this sense of Emptiness all-pervasive. You can imagine that everything—including the sky, including the sky molecules, including the air you are breathing, including your body, including the Earth, including the already seemingly empty space of the universe—that all of that is simply one blank field of Emptiness. Not necessarily “blank” in terms of “there is nothing there,” but blank as a pure potential field of Emptiness.
Awareness contains only Emptiness, and from this Emptiness, forms arise. Forms are created out of Emptiness and they can exist only as Emptiness. So, use your imagination and Consciousness to enter different experiences. As a practice, you can go back to Enlightenment I, Chapter 1, Lesson 3 (“Everything Has Presence”), which has an exercise that helps you enter objects. Please go back to that lesson and study the exercise of tuning into an object and noticing its Presence. Now you are able to take it one step further with the Awareness level, and see that underneath the Presence of that object; inside of and pervading the Presence-Energy of that object, there is nothing but Emptiness, Freedom, Awareness.
The second way to tap into Emptiness is to relax all your definitions about a “solid reality.” The way to do this is to relax your mind for 2 to 5 seconds (or whatever amount of time comes naturally to you). When you relax your thoughts, also relax your tension, your focus, your assumption that physical reality is actually physical, that it has separate objects, that it is a reality independent from Consciousness. Relax the belief that this physical reality exists outside of Awareness, independent on its own resources, on its own foundational substance—it does not.
Relax all your ideas, all your assumptions that this is a physical, solid reality. Relax into the sense of Emptiness itself, the sense of free spacious Awareness itself. Let that make it obvious to you that all there is, is empty Awareness projecting dreamlike, illusory images onto its own Consciousness, onto its own cognizance, onto its own screen of clarity. Awareness itself—not just the objects it creates, but Awareness itself—is empty.
This means we can’t find any solid substance in Awareness; we can’t really find any kind of energy in Awareness—because Awareness would simply be aware of that energy. And if it is aware of the energy that we think is Awareness, then how can it be Awareness? It cannot be what it observes. Awareness is always the transcendent, free agent that can never be contained by any state of being, by any type of energy, by any type of matter, by any type of physicality or solidity, by anything whatsoever. It cannot be grasped, it cannot be contained. It will always remain empty, formless, free Awareness.
When you relax into this knowledge, into the conviction, into the experience of Awareness being free and spacious and empty—Emptiness, Beingness, Emptiness, I-ness—you can start to bring that sense with you, into objects, into experiences. And it starts to become evident to you that everything actually consists of Emptiness.
For this lesson’s homework, try the two different ways of tapping into Emptiness that were explained above. Have fun with this!
- Try these two ways first with an object, then extrapolate to the whole universe, making it seem like Awareness-as-Emptiness is an all-pervasive field and that everything is Emptiness.
- Write two or three paragraphs on your experience. Write about the things you noticed, what was highlighted, what stood out to you, what beliefs dissolved, what new realizations came into being, how you feel different than before, and so on. Write down these diary-like statements and, if you want to, share them in the study group that corresponds to this lesson.
- Most of all, enjoy this sense of Emptiness. Enjoy the paradigm shift of going from being a “solid being”—assuming yourself to be solid in a solid universe—to recognizing that what seems solid is actually pervaded by, and consists only of, Emptiness-Intelligence.
This is fun! You can have some fun, expansive experiences. Enjoy!
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