Why Do We Fear an Empty Mind?
"Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness."
Why is it so hard for us to tolerate emptiness in our minds? The prevalent belief that action always equals progress may be a contributing factor. We perceive emptiness as an undesired state, something to be feared. We feel uncomfortable with those moments when our minds seem devoid of any creative or productive activity. We rarely, if ever, simply sit with and allow the feeling of emptiness.
When a thought enters the mind, it is replaced by another. It is automatic. We are not aware that a thought has segued into another thought. But upon developing the muscles of concentration, we become conscious of the entry and exit process of our thoughts. The mind gradually begins to entertain fewer thoughts per minute. We become aware that there is an interval, a delay, a space between one thought and another. This space is emptiness but also a fullness. At this level of awareness, we are in the sanctum of pure awareness. There are many who are living in this state of pure awareness, and their experiences are lucid and real.
Many are in search of this state, whether they know it or not. We are wired to seek and find what we seek. This quest is as old as humanity itself. There is no need to spend time and energy seeking some illusory "self." What you are seeking is inside of you, and it is you. It is the mind that asserts otherwise.
When you believe this mind, you seek this "I" outside yourself. All one has to do is to remain quiet, calm the mind and experience this space between the thoughts. In this state, only the "I" exists. When you let this "I" in your mind be, without resisting, you enter the realm of emptiness -- pure consciousness or the creative void. Whatever comes up, do not take it personally. Just observe. Allowing your mind to "go blank" for a little while won't kill you, and will actually help you discover your potential, unlimited.
Now developing some comfort with this state is both simple and complex in concept. Since we are slaves to stimuli, we can't imagine harnessing such a practice of emptiness or of being. We are incessantly tempted to turn our attention to something just to avoid this sensation. Blankness is not nothingness. To be empty does not mean non-existence. Emptiness is the ground of being, and because of it, everything is possible.
When the ego cooperates in suspension of all sense impressions and thoughts, it enters the realm of empty, unnameable nothingness. This nothingness is the gateway into the deeper layers of consciousness. It is here where inspiration, knowledge and creativity will ultimately strike. While we are here, we do not decide what will be experienced but to allow whatever awareness it wants us to have.
When self is absent and thoughts negated, we are open to the unknown. Not only does the mind become utterly blank, but it loses the all encompassing idea of a personal ego. We are oblivious to all lower sensations and are instead awake to the rich, conscious and sublime nothingness. Since the capacity to remain in this state for more than a few minutes can impose a strain, the intellect or imagination rush in with ideas or images, thus ending the tension. With time and practice we can endure the weight of this indescribable and incomprehensible experience.
If we succeed in holding steadfastly to this nothingness in deep concentration or meditation, we realize that it is not a mere mental abstraction but something real, not a dream but the most concrete thing in our experience. The contrast between the personal and the impersonal melts away, and only the sense of Being remains -- a Being that stretches far and wide, like the silent trance of infinite space.