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Void (The Void)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Void (The Void)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Void (The Void)

A Profound Void Now Penetrating the Shell

The student realizes that in identifying with the ego-self she truly has nothing, for everything comes from Being. As the ego-self, she is fundamentally poor, totally indigent, devoid of all possessions and qualities. This state is very profound; by this point, too, the student is coming to the insight that this is the intrinsic condition of the ego-self, and is not particular only to her personal situation. The state has a sense of having nothing, feeling nothing, being nothing, and perceiving nothing. It can easily shift to the state of cessation (the disappearing), but it can go further. The state of poverty, which some traditions call “mystical poverty,” is the expression of the transformation of narcissistic emptiness into true inner spaciousness, a profound void now penetrating the shell due to the shell’s almost complete denudement. As the self is letting go of its representations of itself, which feels like the surrendering of everything she believed she possessed, she becomes increasingly transparent to the presentations of Being. She experiences a new profundity of true emptiness—black space—but it is reflected through a slight vestige of psychic structure, the concept of entity. So she feels this emptiness as the poverty of her sense of self. As the student remains in this condition, surrendering all manipulations and desires, this profound emptiness dissolves the remaining vestiges of structure, and propels her into the full and direct experience of this deepest of all voids. But she then discovers that this most profound inner spaciousness is also identical to the absolute depth of all Being. She has arrived home; her poverty has been the doorway.

Boundless Clear Mind is Sometimes Seen as the Emptiness Itself

Primordial consciousness, the non-differentiated knowingness, is the freedom that is needed for any state of the mind to be experienced in its most expanded form. It is the element of expansion into universality. For example, someone might experience a clear mind, but if they cannot experience non-differentiated consciousness then the mind is restricted to simply clarity in the head. If cosmic consciousness has been experienced then the mind is expanded, and the pure consciousness is integrated into the clear mind so that it is experienced as pure clarity, pure transparency, boundless and centerless. This boundless clear mind is sometimes seen as the emptiness itself or as the consciousness that perceives the void, since it is exactly what is needed to experience the void completely. So to understand the relation of the mind to the cosmos, we must first understand the nature of the mind, which we call space. Space cannot be known completely until the sense of separate mental consciousness is eliminated. When you as a separate person, as an individual, are completely absorbed into the universality of cosmic consciousness, then the mirror consciousness, the clarity, experiences the void completely and boundlessly. In the last chapter we referred to pure consciousness when we discussed the capacity for absorption, and to the mirror consciousness when we discussed the awakened state. The void has been experienced and described in all these ways: as space, as blue consciousness, and as clear mind.

Certain Levels of the Void

Death Space

Becoming free from this attachment has to do with becoming free from the attachment to pleasure, all kinds of pleasure. It is the loss of attachment to physicality, to your body from the inside. It’s not a matter of image here, but of direct sensation, direct feeling. This identification is very intimate; it is something you’ve lived with all your life, and you always believe it’s you. Ultimately, it gives you comfort. When you see this identification for what it is, it also will dissolve, because it isn’t any more real than your driver’s license identity. This realization in turn brings in a new space, a new awareness of the void, what we call “death space.” At this point a person experiences what is called death. It is what happens when somebody dies physically; they actually disconnect from the body. Death is a deep dark black emptiness; of course, this death space can be experienced in life. You don’t have to physically die; all that is required is to lose the physical attachment to the body, and the death space will be there. You will know what death is, you will know that you are not the body, and then the identification with the body will be lost. You will know what it’s like not to be connected with the body. At a certain level of realization, if you are conscious when you’re physically dying, then you will see that you’re not your body because you’re still there. There is consciousness, but the body is gone. Then you know that death is just a transition. It can happen in normal life without physical death. It simply means the loss of the physical attachment to the identity with the body. When you know that your identity is not the body then a new level of the void emerges, the black emptiness. Each level of dissolution brings in different experiences of the void, different grades of space. Diamond Heart Book Two, pg. 55

Dissolution of Identity

In our work, we use the true self to expose the false self. But there is always the danger of trying to hold on to an identity. The Buddhists, for instance, don’t talk about a true self, because they see this danger. They say there is no such thing as a true self, because your belief in a true self might enhance or substantiate an experience of ego. Here, then, we see the need for the dissolution of identity itself, whether true or false. We are attached to identity itself, and any attachment to identity, even to an experience of true self, becomes the false identity. We want to hold on to identity because we assume that we need a center. “Now I have a true center,” says ego, “finally I’m self-realized.” The ego is gloating over its victory, “I have slain the ego,” says ego. “Now I am a star, I’m no longer a human being,” says ego. Then the next level of the void needs to arise, the level of the dissolution of identity. We need to see that the attachment to identity itself is also hell and frustration. At this point you begin to see hell more clearly, more palpably. You start burning. The more attached you are to that identity, the more the burning and frustration. Then the dissolution of self, or the dissolution of identity, is what we call extinction, annihilation or nonexistence, which is a new level of the void. Not only your body is gone, but also your identity, your ego is gone. The only possible way to regain Oneness, the original oneness that we want, is to allow the identity to dissolve. The separate identity needs to go, even the true identity. Attachment to the true identity will keep you separate because attachment creates boundaries. The boundaries need to be lost, and the boundaries can only be lost by the loss of identity itself, by the loss of the separate self. When that goes, then it is possible to see that you are not separate from the original consciousness, that there is only one consciousness, one existence. That is what we call the cosmic level. Diamond Heart Book Two, pg. 58

Complete Utter Emptiness

Now there is need of another level of the void to eliminate the final attachment, and we need to do nothing but see and understand this attachment to the wonderful cosmic existence, the all powerful, our truest nature. It is your truest nature, but the issue of attachment is not whether the object you want is good or bad, but that the movement of attachment itself creates separation and suffering. As on all the levels we have described, nothing needs to be done or can be done except to understand. True understanding will spontaneously bring in the deeper level of the void, which is complete, utter emptiness. There is no question of attachment to anything because there is literally nothing to be attached to, there is nothing. There is no image, no body image, no body, no personality, no essence, no God, no existence, no nothing. It’s hard to visualize what this means; in fact, many of the things I say are hard to imagine. The issue here is not what you are attached to. What is needed now is to understand the attitude of attachment itself, regardless of object, even if there is nothing to attach to. Attachment can exist at the level of the cosmic existence as a remnant of personality, although the identity with the personality is gone. Diamond Heart Book Two, pg. 60

Complete Nothingness

This resolution results in the big void, which eliminates identity itself—small or big, true or not true. There is no identity, no nothing to identify. There is no object whatsoever, even a boundless object. This big void, or complete nothingness, is most necessary for freedom because it eliminates attachment. It is the freedom beyond which there is no freedom. Of course, with that freedom, there will come everything. Everything will be freed—the cosmic consciousness, the guidance, the true identity, the personal essence—all essence in its various aspects will be there with no one experiencing it. It’s just there. The cosmic existence is in the end seen as heaven, it is what is called heaven, even beyond heaven, the creator of heaven, God in some religions. We must see that attachment to naming either pole is simply attachment. Reality can be viewed either or both ways, or as the unity of the two.

To summarize, this process is a matter of investigating your identity, at any level of identification, and your attachments to it. That’s why one of the most powerful techniques in spiritual traditions is to ask yourself, “Who am I?” and to keep asking. Every time you say, “That’s me,” investigate and continue asking, “Who am I?” until there is no one left to say it. It’s not a matter of trying to push or do something. There’s no need to do anything at all, all you need to do is understand what’s there. The moment you want to do anything your motivation is attachment. The awareness of exactly what’s there, whatever it is, without wanting or not wanting, is finally the void. Diamond Heart Book Two, pg. 61

The Void, pg. 55, 58, 60, 61

Experience of Oneself as Empty Space

The void is the experience of oneself, one's Essence, as empty space. It is an experience of expansion, spaciousness, openness, and boundlessness. The mind is not bound by the rigid boundaries of the personality's self-image. Its effect on perception is to see things as they are, without distortion... The void is really nothing but the absence of the personality and its various distortions. The mind is empty then, completely empty of the personality. It is as if the inner space is cleaned out, emptied, of the personality and its patterns, mental or physical. The person feels free, fresh, light, and unhampered. The mind is seen as it is, an immaculate emptiness.

The Basic Ground of Our Experience is Empty Space, the Void

So we see that the void is the emptiness resulting from the dissolution of the personality needed for the emergence of essence. In other words, the basic ground of our experience is empty space, the void. This space is usually filled by the personality and its identifications so that there is no room for essence. So there is a need for a clearing process, which will ultimately result in the emergence of empty space. Then essence can emerge, and it will be the fullness of our being. It will take its place, as the source, the life, and the fulfillment.

The Emptiness that Eliminates Separating Boundaries

Even the annihilation space is experienced, and hence there is a boundary. In other words, it is an individual experience. The annihilation is still related to oneself. The sense of individual experience remains, in a very subtle sense, as the annihilation of self. The experience is still self-centered, self-related. The annihilation happens to somebody, to oneself. The dissolution of this subtle boundary of individual experience leads to yet deeper and more open space, an utterly empty space. This space is complete and total emptiness. It is the emptiness which eliminates separating boundaries. There is no more a sense of individual experience. There is nobody there experiencing the emptiness. At this level, there is no difference between awareness and emptiness. Again, this space cannot be conceived by the mind. The mind cannot conceive of experience which is not an individual experience.

The Void, pg. 149

The Void as Space is Experienced as Empty of the Sense of Deficiency

We see that the experience of emptiness is well known and well documented. It is familiar to the ordinary individual, the novelist, the artist, the philosopher, and the psychotherapist. However, it is almost always known as a deficient and painful subjective state. The experience of emptiness as space, however, as illustrated in the preceding case histories, is seen to be far from deficient; it is seen and felt as an experience of lightness, freedom, clarity, and health. The void as space is experienced as empty of the sense of deficiency; there is no deficiency in self-esteem, sense of reality, or sense of self. The feeling of space is definitely not a sense of richness, fullness, solidity, substance, or presence. However, there is no feeling of lacking or missing these qualities. Space is experienced as complete, as not needing anything. It is experienced as having its own value. It is the light and expansive sense of no burden, no heaviness, no tension, and no mental anguish. We see then that there are two experiences of emptiness: one spacious and liberating, and the other deficient and depressive. The subjective experience is definitely different and distinct for each of these kinds of emptiness. The presence of these two types of experience of emptiness could lead to much confusion and misunderstanding, especially when one reads the literature of existentialism or psychoanalysis and then contrasts it with the literature of Far Eastern philosophies and religions.

The Void, pg. 117

The Void is the Emptiness which, in Time, Will Allow the Unfolding of the Fullness and Richness of Being

It should be noted here that the experience of the column of space and of the mind as boundless space is usually the crown of the process of development of what some systems call the Kundalini. In this process, energy ascends up the spine into the head, causing all kinds of unusual experiences. However, when the process is successful, it culminates in the experience of boundless space. This experience is sometimes called the void, or “akash,” a Sanskrit term. We will see later that this realization is not really the apex of human development. The void is the emptiness which in time will allow the unfolding of the fullness and richness of Being. Just as the void is the culmination point of the process of the ascent of energy, it will become the beginning point of a process of descent that will bring the fullness of Being. To continue with Mark’s experience, it seems that his sense of a hole in his genital region was actually the experience of the lower part of the column of space. At first he was aware only of the hole in the genital region because his attention was drawn to that area due to the focus of discussion in the group. The experience of the lower part of the column of space is also connected to the experience of a hole in the “castrated” person. More accurately, the perception of the lack of the penis and the presence of a physical cavity develops into the experience of empty space only if the individual does not resist perception of the cavity and the affects accompanying it. However, most people report the emptiness as a darkness, as a dark and empty hole, which engenders fear in them. If the individual does not resist the perception of the dark and empty cavity, it will expand upward to include the entire pelvic area, the belly, and the rest of the body. So the perception of space will extend upward in this case. 

The Void, pg. 58

There is No Universe Separate from the Void

So according to the Idea of Holy Truth, reality, when seen objectively, has no divisions in it. It exists, it is now, and it is nondual. There is no me, no you, no other, no universe separate from God; no universe separate from the Void; no you and Essence, no personality and Essence; no physical body and soul—all these distinctions are illusions and are not ultimately real. There is only one thing, and it cannot even be called “one” because if you call it one, you are comparing it to two, and it is not one in contrast to two. It is nondual, an indivisible existence, no matter how you look at it or think about it. While the different teachings may emphasize different qualities of this unity, seeing it from the perspective of love or awareness, for example, the assertion here is that fundamental to reality is the fact of unity. All the religions assert this sense of the all-inclusiveness of reality. Another way of saying it is that God is everywhere, omnipresent. Holy Truth is the way that the teaching of the Enneagram of Holy Ideas expresses this understanding.

Facets of Unity, pg. 84

Transition from the Realm of Personality to the Realm of Essence

The experience of the void is an important juncture. It is necessary for the transition from the realm of the personality to the realm of essence or being. But by no means is it the final end of all personality. And the void itself is not essence yet. The void is a transition point. It indicates the absence of identification, the absence of self-image. This is absolutely needed for the discovery and the establishment of essence, but it is not essence yet, and it is not the end. The void is the absence of the personality, but as we have seen, the essence is a poignant presence. The void is the absence of identification, which forms the self-image.

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