writing on suffering and awakening

There is always room for us: making peace with emptiness

Sometimes I look inside myself and see greed and selfishness and cruelty and I wonder: where is the love? It has to be in there too, right? I look harder, searching for a shining light to drive away the darkness.

So often, there's only emptiness. I look inside myself and see the void. There's nothing to stand on, nothing to follow, nothing to ally myself with. 

How many of us work so hard to run away from that emptiness? We busy ourselves with work, family, friends, drugs, sex, the internet. We try to fill the void, terrified of what it means. Of course we never succeed in filling it for long. 

But what if that void is the love? What if that emptiness inside me, inside us, is really openness? 

Many teachers tell us that our fundamental nature is empty: that beneath all the layers of self, there's no one home. This sounds scary to me, especially in contrast to other teachers who speak more of love or a loving God as the foundation of it all. But what if that emptiness is the true embrace of a loving God?

Think about it: what is more loving than giving someone space to be exactly as they are? Openness doesn't try to change us, or make us be anything different, or do anything in particular. It's just radically, unconditionally accepting. 

Maybe the void isn't telling us it doesn't care or that we don't matter. Maybe it's telling us that there is always room for us, and for all our experiences and our baggage. That no matter what happens, our space never goes away. 

Rather than fearing the emptiness, maybe we can see it as proof that the universe is incapable of doing anything but loving us, and that at our core, so too are we. 

Ian Cooper