Any thought cannot truly describe nor comprehend the silent still space between thoughts. Further, anything describable, finite, known and limited cannot truly describe nor comprehend the indescribable, infinite, unknown, and unlimited.
This is why the mind resists surrendering in meditation and the human being resists surrendering in death. To the mind, being separated from thought through meditation is an alien experience, just as to the human being, separation from its body through death is also completely alien.
This type of fear also comes into play when we, human beings, encounter the unknown and the infinite possibilities it contains. Perceiving ourselves as finite, known and limited beings, we relentlessly cling to the known out of our deep fear of the unknown. We cling to what happened in our past by constantly remembering it and we use what is known in the present to attempt to create a predictable and knowable future. We cling to our thoughts, beliefs, ideologies, youth, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, material possessions, bodies, or anything else we can to create our identity and to remain known, finite and limited, even to the point of our own misery.
Not only do we do this clinging ourselves, but we also attempt to force others to do so. We like to identify others through neat little definitions and it bothers us when they do not conform to these definitions, such as when many of us encounter a gay person for the first time- who challenges our known definition of what it means to be a man or woman, or when we encounter a person from a different race- who challenges our known definition of what it means to be human, or even when a person we know changes their idea of themselves so that it no longer fits into our previous idea of them. Through their non-conformity to our definitions we come in contact with our fear of the unknown yet again.
For most of us, this clinging to the known gradually replaces our childhood curiosity as we mature. As young children we are so used to the unknown because the majority of the world is literally the unknown. As children we innately understand that without accepting the unknown we are unable to grow, but sadly this understanding slowly dissolves as we mature. As children we are open to meeting strangers, trying new activities, or just exploring for the sake of exploring. Our curiosity is what drives us, while in adulthood we temper that curiosity and allow our fear of the unknown to drive us instead. In adulthood we take fearful steps and sometimes stop ourselves from taking steps at all, due to our fear of losing our identity, of losing what we consider ourselves to be. The fear of the unknown grows with our fear of dying, which is essentially the fear of losing ourselves, whether that self is our body or our personality.
It’s truly futile though, this clinging to preserve our identity, and its futility is demonstrated best through physical death, which we must all face and which pries our grip from what we know and forces us to finally realize our true nature as the infinite, unknowable, unlimited and indescribable. In finally diving into the unknown beyond death we will realize that it is not the empty void we feared, but the infinite space that gives birth to the finite, sort of like the silent space between thought that gives birth to thought. To put it simply: a void is experienced not only when there is nothing in it, but also when everything is in it, which is the paradox of the void of existence. We are a part of this void. This void is our home from which we came and to which we shall return.
I recall so many people describing this void inside them which they try to fill with anything and everything external to them. This is why people cling. Once we have found something to occupy our mind, whether it is the love of another or our job, or anything else external, we cling to it so that we don’t feel the void once again. “I feel empty”, people say when they lose something cherished, or “I don’t know who I am anymore”. They are feeling the void again. I now understand why that feeling of emptiness is there. I now understand that the void, the emptiness cannot be filled by anything because the void actually is everything. Everything is within us. We are everything. We are the void. We are the emptiness from which everything springs.
The good news is we don’t need to wait for the void of death to let go of our fear and to embrace the unknown that we are. We can understand that life is the result of the infinite undefinable - call it God if you want, defining itself as the infinite variety of forms around us. We can understand that form is the result of this act of defining and that all form, whether it be as small as an ant or as large as a star, cannot help but constantly redefine itself because of its true underlying nature as the undefinable. Through this understanding we can become flexible and practice attached detachment, knowing that all form shall change and that clinging to it is impossible.
We can understand that the most accurate description of unconditional love is the freedom of the infinite and undefinable to define itself in any way it can. That is, to unconditionally love someone or something is to allow them to define themselves in the way they prefer.
We can understand that every form is by its very nature unconditionally loved and so is completely and utterly free to define itself anew over and over, whether that redefinition is allowed to takes place through the process of life or whether it is “forced” through the process of death.
The understanding of the void of existence has the power to positively change our world in unimaginable ways. Well, the first thing to change is that we will be willing to change, because we will be embracing the unknown rather than running from it. This willingness to change is missing in many people around the world and it is exactly what is needed at this time.
It is time to let go of identities that do not work for us and embrace identities that do. It is time to let go of out-dated societal systems that we attempt to preserve out of our desire to preserve our false identity as the limited, known, finite, and describable. It is time to embrace our true nature as the unknown and dive into the unknown in an act of reunion with ourselves. It is time to embrace the unconditional love of existence that we are through this new understanding of our true selves and of life.