What is it that humans fear the most? Most people are apprehensive about the unknown of death, the unknown of their body not existing any more. On top of that is the fear of being forgotten—and that doesn’t take very long. For most of us, not famous, it takes just a couple of generations. This fear of not being is mirrored every time we experience deep quiet. I know people in my circle of friends who always have their television on. Another friend told me that her father would beat her if she turned off the television in the early morning hours of the morning. He wanted it on all the time, no exceptions. Sound, as company. Sound, to ward off the inevitable.
Fear also haunts people when their minds fall quiet. My friend Susan pointed out to me that the space between thoughts is terrifying to many people, again because it approximates death. It is in that very space that life actually lives—and we try to shut it out.
When I went on a ten-day solitary, silent retreat, most people I spoke to said that they could never undertake a retreat like that. The very thought of it petrifies them. I didn’t know how it would affect me—I wondered if I would find my own company uncomfortable—only to discover the delicious, vibrant emptiness that is available when we set down all daily activity and plunge into the unknown. It can make us hunger for more.
The easiest way to approach this empty, alive unknown is to follow a thought back to its root. When we discover there is no root, in fact, nothing there at all, there is at least a split second where we experience the absence of anything—and then we can return to the safety of the known world.
Ha! As though it is safe here!
I’ve become cordial with and curious about the void-that-is-not-void—the delectable, vibrant nothing-that-is-everything. It’s the very source, and it’s right here, right now, always.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013