Emptiness..what is emptiness?, my sister telephones. My mind spins with possibilities, all ways of describing the indescribable.
It's a great subject, dear to my mystic's heart. Just last week at the Meditation and Conversation group I am trying out, I focused on Aum, Om, the sound that comes out of Emptiness. And now comes this serendipitous opportunity to consider it a bit more.
The response in terms of physics might be Physicist David Bohm's theory of implicate orders. His idea is that all creation...sky, earth, people, animals, atoms, stars and oceans....come out of nothing. Each was an idea before becoming a reality on the physical plane. Bohm has implicate orders inside of implicate orders, like Russian dolls that nest one inside the next.
In the Beginning was the Word
St John, in the Bible, says “In the beginning was the word, and the word was made manifest and lived among us.” Where did the word come from? From nothingness, the void, emptiness. Vedanta says the sound of Om is actually God; Om is the sound that comes out of emptiness.
Silence is the Altar of God
Another expression, “Silence is the altar of God” from Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Indian yogi, suggests the same emptiness or nothingness. In this case, the Unformed, the Unmanifest, Emptiness is called Silence.
Tao Te Ching
Or consider the Chinese Tao Te Ching that begins, “The Tao that can be named is not the One.” Again, the Tao is the unseen emptiness from which all actions, all things flow.
What is emptiness? Not absence. Rather, overflowing potential.
What does it look like, how does it taste, what is its smell? What is its meaning? Obviously, it's unseen, it cannot be smelled or tasted or felt, nor can it be heard. But perhaps it can be intuited. Meaning is not tangible and hence, has a life apart. We intuit the Source of All Things, using senses beyond the physical body.
Vastly more powerful than all the nuclear energy on the globe—immensely more expansive than all created things, emptiness speaks to the inner knowing of each mystic, ultimately lives in each of us.
Out of the darkness...out of emptiness, God said let there be Light.
I'm sure much more can be said about Emptiness and Silence....I'd like to hear your “take” on my sister's question, “What is emptiness?”