I spent the day at St Michael’s Convent, Ham Common. I have come to view it as one of my favourite places. I spent the day alone and prayed, pottered and read some more of Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird. It is a wonderful book that brings together strands I am passionate about: body-centred spiritual practice, contemplation and Focusing.
While eating my lunch, I noticed the spectre of emptiness creeping up on me. I cast about looking for something interesting to do – a diversion. I have a kind of anxious feeling in my upper chest, where there can also be a kind of hardness, like a shell, to keep things at bay.
Behind all my addictive behaviours – behind watching TV, buying books, playing on the computer, eating too much, and many other distractions (these are just the ones I am more ready to admit to) – behind them all is emptiness and the fear that I am empty. But, so what if I am? Then what? Why does this bother me? Why not just be empty? Empty of what? Isn’t everything in the end empty – of solidity, of permanence, of significance, of being able to hold itself in being. Aren’t we all just like the clouds?
And then a flow of words: impermanent, gaseous, soft, transparent, insubstantial, evanescent, temporary, ephemeral, like the morning mist. Really, there is nothing here to defend, nothing to strive to hold on to. Emptiness is the nature of everything.
It is the anticipation of being nothing that is so terrible, such suffering. In truth, being empty is a relief, a freedom from always trying to be something.