I recently received several messages from a person who stated she was captured by the Void, and life had become empty and meaningless for her, and she could not manifest any energy to get on in life. There followed a dialogue which addresses some of the issues she raised. I have written a much longer version than this one, which will be included in a book I am writing. The following is just the dialogue.
I have made up a name and call her Elle.
Elle: Hi Edward. I was wondering if you could share your insight about something. I am not even sure how to adequately explain without sounding like a fool. I'll try my best.
I know there is something else. I don't know what that something else is, but IT is everything. I believe I don't really know anything at all and I believe everything may just lead to a void. For a long time, Robert Adams words were the only thing I could turn to, but now even that is no more. I sometimes experience great panic because I believe this void that has created me, my consciousness, my mind, etc. may not even care about me or anything. After all, how could it? It's beyond emotion and the mind. Can you see how terrifying this can be? I sometimes look around the world and see the most unimaginable things happening to people and this just seems to confirm that an emotionless void has created it all...
Ed: The Void is just part of your experience. The person is another part. Emotions are another part. The Void permeates everything, but you don't have to identify with it, nor a length of the concept that it is the creator and destroyer of everything. You can think of the Void and your world of personal experience as being entirely separate worlds of existence, one having life and meaning, and the other not. Do not focus on the not; focus on the life.
The void has always pursued me too. What has saved me each time is falling in love. Someone comes to me who loves me and all I have to do is love back. That love takes me out of the void.
Elle: Thank you for your response. It just helps to know there is at least one person (you) in this world who understands what I am talking about. I have shut out a lot of the world and have isolated myself from many, many, others. It's not out of depression or anger. Knowing that everything isn't what it appears to be makes me very uninterested and quite frankly disgusted in most of the things and happenings in this world. I never asked the void to pursue me. It just did. I followed it for years and it led me to a literal void. There are a few things I love and I just hold on to those. What else is there to do I guess? Thanks for your reply.
Ed: Tell me more about yourself. I am intrigued because it happened to me that way too. Who are you?
Elle: I truly appreciate your interest. It seems like no one understands. I'll be honest. It's hard to tell my "story" because I don't talk about it. Either no one can relate to it or if you follow the teachings, it will tell you just that - it’s just a “story” and not the truth….so I feel foolish for even talking about it. I used to be 100% atheist. However, over the course of almost 20 years now, I have come to realize that there is something that created and permeates everything we perceive through our senses. I call it the void or simply IT. Nothing is mine. All my thoughts, emotions and my consciousness came from this void. The astonishing thing is that the path to this “realization” and it’s accompanying experiences almost exactly follows what Robert Adams talks about in his lectures.
I stumbled upon his talks years after going through many spiritual/unexplainable experiences. I finally came to the realization that even the teachings, Robert Adams himself comes from this void I’ve been referring. That being the case, everything literally is coming from nothing. This is the reason why I can’t even turn to the teachings for comfort. I have nothing to hold on to and at times, I panic and wish I had someone to talk to who understands. Thank you for listening.
Ed: You have to distinguish the Void from nothingness. They are very different.
The void is experienced. It is real. It is a kind of mental space that permeates all experience.
Nothingness, on the other hand, is no experience, no consciousness, no life, no death. It is what one has in deep sleep.
Even the Void comes from nothingness.
Both take all meaning from life, including tragedy, suffering, and happiness, sex, love.
Elle: I think I understand what you are saying. It is difficult for me to accept that everything including the void comes from nothingness. To me, it seems like everything is purposeless. I don't want to come across as a person who sits and thinks and talks about this stuff all day. However, practically speaking, I still have to live this life. What makes it difficult at times is that I know there is something else behind everything so life can feel like a big fat joke. I feel like if I react too much to it, I am just fooling/humoring myself. Compounding all this is seeing other people go about their life. They appear gullible or ignorant to me. Also, I feel I guess you could say, for a lack of better words, a psychic/spiritual connection to everyone and have had some pretty bizarre/unexplainable experiences with others. Paradoxically, instead of exciting me, this has served to make me suspicious of everyone. People are surely not what I once believed they were. Taken together, I have lost interest in making and having friends. I am not trying to say I am better than anyone. That's not the case at all.
I know I am nothing. I was created out of nothingness. Nothing is mine. This is a bit difficult to write out. I think maybe why I decided to write to you is because I am in the middle of a career change and it feels very surreal. I am taking all these actions to find a new career, but I know at the end of the day, my actions don't really matter at all. If I am meant to get a certain job, the nothingness will create the sequences of events that will make it appear to happen.
I could appear to go through many years of effort and searching or I could get a job overnight without really any apparent effort at all. Knowing this can be disconcerting and no one gets it. Like I said, I know that everything comes from this invisible thing yet, I still have to live my life. I am not really looking for any answer from you. I guess I am human and just wish maybe someone else could see things the way I do. It's hard to believe no one else does, given that this nothingness is truly everything. How can no one see it? Maybe the joke is all on me and everyone is just playing their part. I’m afraid you will think I'm nuts
Ed: Far from it. Don't forget your humanity. Fall in love if you can. It is the only escape from the Void being all-powerful. But that is not easy to find either. That has to come to you too. But don't think there is a master plan behind it all either. The Void is not a God creating fates and paths for people. Don't think the will is useless because we can’t see all or know all. Just because we don’t have perfect knowledge or control doesn’t necessarily mean everything is pre-ordained or totally out of our control.
Robert’s teachings were meant to take suffering away, but not to make people bumps on a log. Most of the people that came to Robert, came bearing heavy suffering and even terminal illness, and they were seeking relief from that suffering, so his teachings were slanted to take the sting bite out of the suffering and allow the person to live a more peaceful and quiet life.
The pitfall is that the experience of emptiness and nothingness while they remove the sting of suffering, they also remove elation and ecstasy out of joyful experiences also, making all experiences equal. Both Nisargadatta and Robert went a step further than just describing the Void, emptiness and nothingness in stating these were the ultimate states, they also wanted to remove the sense of being a person, being an individual, being a human. Both Robert and Nisargadatta are very clear about that, the need to remove the personal. They also use the concepts of the Void, or emptiness, and nothingness, to take all meaning out of life, as it has for you. Now you are stuck in an entirely senseless, purposeless, meaningless universe, and instead made the Void and nothingness the all-powerful God’s that create and destroy everything and you are merely a helpless puppet.
However, I think Robert and Nisargadatta both are wrong here. I think you have to take the void in the world of experience, and I mean all experience as completely separate. The Void is not the only reality, nothingness is not the ultimate reality either as Nisargadatta claims. I think insofar as you are alive and want to remain alive, you also have to take your everyday life as a real also, and within that acceptance, except your own self as an arbiter of your own faith. Yes, it is probably true, that most often all of us, most often all of the time are mere puppets acting out urges, habitual patterns, and abiding by the common concepts in order of things at all accept as true.
But that does not take away the apparent reality of your everyday life. That is, it has the meaning you give it, for your purposes, and for your use, within your personal context and complex of experiences and relationships.
You say now that you do not trust people. I fully understand that. You find that people are acting according to impulses, motives, and stories that are not how they represented themselves, leading them to act in ways that you do not understand that all, and leaving you feeling but none of external reality makes any sense because it does not abide by your principles and patterns. You have judged that all people act in the way that you act and for the reasons you act this way, and have found that not to be the case, and do not trust them.
But I tell you, it is my own experience, that the only sure way out of the void, and other your sense of meaningless, is by having a deep and abiding love for another human being that beckons you to come out of the void and live in the relative world of humanity and concepts.
And here is the most important thing I have found: love born from out of the Void is of a different sort altogether from the love that one experiences prior to realization of the Void. Pre-Void love is ordinary human relationship love and romance. It is what makes the world go around, creating babies, families, and society. Love That Is Born from the Void is divine love, it is dozens of times more intense, more ecstatic, and reveals a new sense of self entirely beyond the I-thought, or I-sensation, that one riddance one self of through one’s first awakening experiences. A new personal self is revealed which has a dual nature of being both divine and godlike and at the same time human. You are an incarnation of the divine meeting both the life divine, and the life of a human. So, I bid you, I ask you, be open to the love of another. Temporarily at least drop your distrust of others enough to allow being captured by someone who loves you. If you do, and someone comes to you, leap at the opportunity, for then you will live in the life divine, as both God and mortal at the same time. Live this way for a while as both, and then once again be able to totally return to being an ordinary human.
However, I think the Void may always pursue you, and you have to be vigilant to stay open to your own humanity.b