Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Being Nothing

Scott Bradley

To speak of being nothing is nonsense. It is a logical absurdity. If "nothing", then nothing. Nothing can not be nothing. Nothing is inconceivable and cannot be spoken. To say that something is nothing is thus an even greater absurdity.

So we say that something is empty. Emptiness implies something that is empty. What? Because it is empty, we cannot say. It is, and it is not. It is, perhaps, but it is neither this nor that.

This is having fun with words, admittedly. But we arrive here for some reason; something in our experience brings us here to a consideration of emptiness. The more we become familiar with this experience of being human, the more we become aware of an emptiness at the root of our being. Our immediate interpretive reaction to this is typically negative. The experience of emptiness undermines our presumed being-as-something — I am. This can be painful — should we cling to being a something.

There is an alternative, however. We can release into our primary, root experience of emptiness. We can be empty.

I have often quoted Zhuangzi: "The vital energy (qi) is an emptiness, a waiting for the presence of beings." If we are that awaited being, still we arise as beings from an emptiness. Returning to the root is being a being in the larger context of emptiness. And it is an entirely different way of being-in-the-world than one which would see itself as concrete and fixed. Release into is also release from, and this is freedom.

I have said all this before, of course. And my saying is but a faint and feeble echo of what many traditions tell us. But I repeat myself once again, because I need to hear it again . . . and again. I cannot speak for you; you may just be an innocent bystander.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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