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Tasting Emptiness Until It Fills You Up

| Nirmala | Awareness

Tasting Emptiness Until It Fills You Up

Published on
05 December 2016

Q: In your book, Nothing Personal, you wrote this about Awareness:  "This mysterious something is like a flashlight. I call it that because there is a quality of brightness to it. Whatever you bring your attention to becomes lit up by this Awareness".  What happens if I shine the flashlight on Awareness itself?

A: That is a very good question! The nature of awareness itself cannot really be captured in words, but the actual practice of turning awareness back on itself is a powerful doorway into directly experiencing the mystery of awareness more fully, even if you still cannot describe or even conceptualize it.

Since awareness is not a thing and does not have a fixed location, often the initial experience when we direct attention to awareness itself is a sense of emptiness and/or disorientation. It is like trying to grasp a beam of light with your hands. The opportunity is to just stay with the experience of "no-thing-ness" or the sense of indefinable and ungraspable vagueness and see what happens. I often use the metaphor that it can be like walking from a brightly lit room into a completely dark room. At first, you cannot see anything! But if you stay there with your eyes wide open, then gradually your eyes adjust and you can start to just make out the furniture.

Similarly, when we stay with the actual experience of noticing awareness, no matter how vague or undefined it is at first, there can be a filling in of a more subtle sensing of simple presence or Being. Even then it can remain elusive, but the invitation is to continue to just stay with the ebb and flow of sensations, and also of more subtle sensations. You can be especially curious if you encounter any sense of emptiness or blankness or even a sense of lack or like something is missing. Our instincts when we experience emptiness or nothingness is to turn away and look somewhere else. But on these subtle levels, the direct sensations of emptiness and lack are surprisingly the most direct openings into deeper reality. It takes a while to get the knack of looking at nothing and fully tasting emptiness, but with time you can become a connoisseur of emptiness and discover all of the myriad subtle qualities of your own essence as awareness. Here is an article about this kind of exploration:

Exploring Emptiness

I hope this helps.