to top

Profound Emptiness

There are two possibilities: either there is the world of logic, structure, thought, names, goals, and purposefulness, or there is profound emptiness. The world of logic, structure, thoughts, names, goals, and purposefulness is entirely redundant (or self-negating), whilst profound emptiness is not redundant, is not self-negating.

 

 

These are the only two possibilities and we go for logic and structure every time because it seems infinitely preferable to us, even if it is entirely redundant, even if it is self-negating!

 

 

Of course we don’t see that we have made any such choice because we don’t acknowledge that there is any such ‘thing’ as profound emptiness. We can’t acknowledge profound emptiness at the same time as choosing to exist in the world of logic and structure because profound emptiness trumps logic and structure, and shows it up to be a mere game (or ‘pretence’) rather than any sort of final reality. And neither do we opt for the world of logic and structure in the awareness that it is entirely redundant because if we knew it to be redundant then we wouldn’t be able to get any satisfaction from it – seeing the redundancy of what we have bought into would defeat the whole point of the exercise. When we opt for the world of logic and structure this entails us not only being unaware of the world of profound emptiness but also our complete and utter lack of insight into the fact that the world of logic, structure, thoughts, names, goals and purposefulness is at all times immaculately redundant, immaculately self-negating…

 

 

We have said that there are two choices as to which world we want to live in – the world of logic, structure, thought, names, goals and purposefulness or the world of profound emptiness, but actually – when it comes down to it – there aren’t two choices at all. If the world of logic, structure, thought, etc (which is more succinctly known as the world of form) is redundant then it can hardly be then it can hardly be considered a ‘choice’. It’s a choice that looks like a choice but which will be ultimately revealed as a nonsense choice, a choice that goes nowhere. It is like a revolving door – we step into it with all enthusiasm, only to be returned to the exact same spot we started from. The world of form appears to contain genuine choices, but this is just a façade with nothing behind it…

 

 

We could therefore say that the world of form is a ‘virtual choice’. There is a kind of delay or time-lag built into it which creates the illusion that we are getting somewhere, but that’s all it is – an illusion. There is an apparent ‘space’ between the statement (which is our ‘step forward’) and the inevitable falsification or negation of the statement (or step) and in that space we get to hang out and make plans and do all the things that make sense to do within the narrow remit of the world of form. This virtual space doesn’t seem like a virtual space to us – it seems like the whole world, it seems like the whole story. The ‘delay’ or ‘time-lag’ that we’re talking about here might sound obscure or mysterious but it isn’t – the virtual space that exists between the ‘positive statement’ and the inevitable falsification of that statement is the same thing as the ‘space’ between the PLUS phase of a vibration and the MINUS phase, the space between the pendulum reaching the limit of its swing in one direction and the corresponding limit of its swing in the reverse direction…

 

 

As Itzhak Bentov says in Stalking the Wild Pendulum, the universe is made up of vibrations. That’s all it is – a collection of ‘oscillatory systems’, all interacting with each other. That’s how tangible stuff gets to be tangible – by vibrating. A good analogy is to say that emptiness is like an infinitely deep ocean, an ocean that is perfectly transparent because it is so still. In order to create some sort of opacity, some sort of cloudiness (something solid that we can see) we have to create some kind of agitation, some kind of disturbance. A disturbance always exists symmetrically around the line of ‘zero disturbance’, which is to say, there is a displacement in the ‘positive’ direction which is subsequently offset by a corresponding disturbance in the ‘negative’ direction, in an ‘up/down’ or ‘side-to-side’ fashion.

 

 

We all know this kind of thing very well – we all know what a wave is! What we don’t necessarily focus so much on is the self-cancelling symmetry of the wave, which is to say, on the way in which the upwards displacement is a perfect inversion (or mirror image) of the downwards displacement. We don’t focus on the way that the one is exactly the same thing as the other, only in ‘reflected’ form. It’s not that we can’t see that the wave (or the vibration) is all just the one thing – it’s that we can see that it is self-cancelling, that it is a self-cancelling thing. If we could see this then would realize that it isn’t really ‘a thing’ at all but just ‘the fiction of a thing’…

 

 

The gap between the upwards swing and the downwards swing of the wave is therefore the ‘time-lag’ that we were talking about earlier – the ‘delay’ that allows us to believe that there really is a possibility of separating one pole from another, one opposite from another. The time-lag is the stretch that exists between the statement and the inevitable falsification of the statement and this ‘stretch’ is the continuum of logic, otherwise known as ‘the world of form’. We can perhaps evoke the flavour of what we are talking about here a bit better by thinking about it in terms of good old-fashioned psychological denial – let us suppose for example I have very obviously (and therefore very foolishly) embezzled money from work so that there is absolutely no way that I will not be found out, and yet I persist in thinking that I can get away with it, I persist in believing that I won’t be found out. For a brief period of time I live in the ‘fool’s paradise’ which is ‘the imaginary reality which is created by my belief that I won’t be caught’. In the same way we can say that when the wave is moving in the upwards direction then I live in the ‘denial world’ that is created when I believe that this upwards movement will always continue, that it is never going to reverse its direction and come right back again to where it started.

 

 

It’s not just that I am living on ‘borrowed time’ – I am living in imaginary time. It isn’t just that the time I have obtained is ‘all-too-brief’, but rather that the period of time which I am taking to be a linear progression (which all that this implies) somehow loops back on itself and negates itself. The perception that we have that a linear axis (either of time or space) is an endless progression is a complete and utter illusion. This is not hard a point to get across and we can illustrate it very nicely by thinking of a straightforward closed loop whose inner surface is a logical continuum – what happens in this case is that when we follow the surface of the continuum we will perceive ourselves to be progressing, i.e. we will perceive ourselves to be moving all the time in the direction of one opposite (or pole), which we could denote at the positive direction. Now despite the fact that we keep on travelling in a positive direction, the nature of a loop is of course such that the direction we are travelling in will inevitably ‘flip over’ and become the negative of itself, and yet we will not notice any difference at all in the direction we are moving in. Positive is turning into negative the whole time! Movement in a positive direction turns into movement in a negative direction in such a smooth way we never see it happening – and the reason is of course that ‘it is all the same thing’. And not only is it ‘all the same thing’, it is ‘all the same self-cancelling thing’ – which makes it therefore only the fiction of a thing…

 

 

This analogy illustrates how illusion that we are ‘moving on’ the whole time (the illusion that the positive direction isn’t turning into its own mirror image, and that the journey isn’t therefore an unreal one) is perfect from inside of the loop (since the inside of the loop supplies its own deceptive frame of reference) but doesn’t work otherwise since if we aren’t inside the loop then we can clearly see that there isn’t any ‘moving on’. The analogy also shows us something else, if we play with it a bit. If we make the mental experiment of ‘shrinking the loop’ we can easily see that if the loop were totally deflated (so to speak) so that it becomes no more than a single point, then the distance in the positive direction is still equal to the distance in the negative distance, but numerical value of these two distances is now equal to zero. This is the most honest sort of loop, therefore, because there is clearly no journey to be had in it. As we inflate the point we still have the situation where ‘the plus direction’ equals ‘the minus direction’ (so nothing has really changed) only now we have the illusion that there is a journey. By ‘pumping up the geometrical point’ we have – in other words – invented virtual distance and this virtual distance is the essential commodity that the continuum of logic is based on…

 

 

What we are saying therefore is that a linear dimension represents a separation of the opposites (in that every straight line has POSITIVE at one end and a NEGATIVE at the other) that doesn’t actually exist outside of the formalism of the linear dimension, outside the formalism of the straight-line axis! When we put together a framework made up out of linear axes, then it becomes possible to define things within the context of this framework, such that everything we ‘know’ is ‘known’ in terms of these axes. But because any pair of complementary opposites can never truly be separated (because there never is going to be any genuine space between the North and the South Pole, so to speak) anything that is thus defined (anything that makes sense within the terms of the logical framework) is always going to be inherently paradoxical. We however are not going to be aware of the paradoxical nature of all of our positive knowledge (or of all our mental objects) just so long as we remain identified with the fixed framework which is the everyday logical mind.

 

 

We can also look at this in terms of linear time. In this case, everything that we have said about a loop of linear space also holds good for a loop of linear time – inside the loop we imagine that there is such a thing as linear time, whereas from outside of this bubble, outside of this loop, we can plainly see that there isn’t! If we say – just for the sake of the argument – that there is a type of consciousness that is associated with linear time (which we can call linear consciousness) then it is very clearly the case that this consciousness understands ‘straight-line time’ to be an absolute real and absolutely fundamental phenomenon. This very obviously is the case because this is what we all believe! This is the type of consciousness that is constitutionally unable to see the bigger picture, constitutionally incapable of seeing that any pair of opposites is always a unity. John G. Bennett speaks of the Reactional Self in this connection – which he defines as being a self that can do nothing else other than react mechanically to stimuli since it is only capable of seeing one of any pair of opposites at any one time:

 

The Reactional Self can experience the action of only one Cosmic Impulse at any one given time. When it experiences the affirming impulse, it is unaware of the denying force that opposes it. This produces a positive reaction that is manifested through the automatism of the Material Self. Likewise, a denying impulse produces a negative manifestation. In these reactions, there is no choice, and no decision. There is polarity, but only one pole is situated within the Self.

 

Linear consciousness represents a very fundamental level of denial – we could go so far as to say that it is itself denial. It is consciousness that is in denial of itself, consciousness that is in denial of its own inalienable wholeness. But if we were able to extricate ourselves from this linear conscious (which is awareness that is strictly formatted by the rules of logic) then we would come back to the state of unconditioned consciousness, which is not predicated upon a logical framework, and not passively identified with mechanical rules. Unconditioned consciousness is – we might say – consciousness that is inseparable from unformatted space (which is the space that exists beyond all logical frameworks). We could also say that unconditioned consciousness is the consciousness that is associated with eternity (or timelessness) rather than linear time…

 

 

Itzhak Bentov gets at this same idea, only in a slightly different way. Pendulums (or oscillatory systems) have two phases, Bentov explains, the ACTION phase and the REST phase. One complete vibratory cycle consists of two ACTION phases and two REST phases, a swing in the ‘positive’ direction being one ACTION phase and the reverse swing in the ‘negative’ direction being the other. Punctuating these two ACTION phases are the two REST phases, one at each extreme of the swing. So far so good – there is nothing here to upset anyone very much.

 

 

Things get distinctly weird after this however: invoking Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation (which states that the more you know about one variable in a system the less you can know about the other) Bentov deduces that whilst the pendulum behaves itself perfectly well during the ACTION phase, it ceases to obey the rules of behaviour that we all take for granted during REST phase. The reason for this is because during REST phase we know one variable with 100% accuracywe know that the velocity of the pendulum bob is zero. This is of course quite indisputable – between swinging one way and returning in the other there is no way that the pendulum bob’s velocity cannot be momentarily zero. Applying Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation here, we can see that because we know everything there is to know about the pendulum bob’s velocity we can know nothing at all about its position. This of course applies not just to pendulums but to every single oscillatory system there is and the tangible universe (as we have said) is made up entirely of oscillatory systems…!

 

 

So what this means is whilst that during the ACTION phase the pendulum bob behaves itself with respect to the laws of mechanics – remaining totally accountable the whole time to the dimensional framework – during REST phase it breaks all the rules and momentarily becomes totally delocalized. It ceases to be contained in the framework and as a result there is no way of knowing what has happened to it! According to Itzhak Bentov, the pendulum bob flies outwards instantaneously beyond the bounds of the physical universe, and then – as soon as REST phase is over – it comes back again as obediently as you please and continues with its reverse swing for all the world as if nothing had happened. Because the ‘interval’ during which the pendulum bob flies out into infinity takes no time at all, Bentov states that REST phase is actually the same thing as infinite velocity. ACTION phase, on the other hand, he paradoxically equates to a state of total stasis…

 

 

A very curious inversion has taken place here therefore – what we understand as movement – or the possibility of movement – is in fact stasis and what we understand as ‘standing still’ is actually completely free and unimpeded movement, the ‘release’ from all restrictions. Our normal understanding of reality is – according to Bentov’s reasoning – is like a ‘photographic negative’ of what is really going on – the static has become the dynamic for us, and the genuinely dynamic has been dismissed entirely as something not worth concerning ourselves with. We’re excited by the static and oblivious to the non-static. The reason for this very peculiar inversion is that we are looking at the world – as we always do – from the standpoint of the static framework of the thinking mind, which is absolutely incapable of either perceiving or comprehending anything that cannot be slotted into this framework. On one hand (i.e. from the viewpoint of the thinking mind) this is a matter of course, but on the other hand (taking the bigger picture) this situation is utterly bizarre and entirely fantastical seeing as reality itself is radically non-static!

 

 

Reality itself is – we might say – the very antithesis of static. Reality, as Heraclitus says, is movement. So the inversion that occurs as a result of taking the standpoint of the thinking mind as the legitimate way of seeing things is that a kind of virtual reality is created in which reality itself never gets a look in, and the hollow tautological projections of the static framework we are basing everything on gets to be treated as genuinely meaningful phenomena, i.e. they get treated as being non-redundant, non self-negating

 

 

Although we have talked about waves or vibrations as consisting of a pause, followed by a movement first in a ‘positive’ direction and then another pause, and then a movement in a ‘negative’ one, these directions do not exist in emptiness. They have no self-existent reality. Although we have implied that waves or vibrations occur in emptiness in the same way that ripples exist on the surface of a body of water, the analogy falls down if taken too far because whilst in water there is an up and a down, there is no up or down in emptiness (and no left or right either). As we have said, there isn’t such a thing as a ‘positive direction’ in emptiness, but yet there is with regard to the vibration that occurs in that emptiness. So we can say that the disturbance ‘creates its own frame of reference’ and within this frame of reference there is an up and a down, and whatever other polarities we may want to be there. And yet as we have said these polarities are apparent rather than being real because the up is really the same as the down, just as the surface inside the closed loop of logic that we were talking about earlier is really all the same unbroken surface. There isn’t therefore such a thing as the positive direction and the negative direction in the vibration, but only the one direction. But even saying this isn’t right because the direction we’re talking about here is self-cancelling, which clearly means that it doesn’t actually exist at all!

 

 

In reality – as we have said – there are no directions. There appears to be a direction from the provisional point of view that it itself creates for itself but this is it. It doesn’t go any deeper than this – it’s a surface-level phenomenon and the ‘surface’ in question is only a game that we are playing, a supposition that we are making, a limited (and therefore entirely redundant) reality that we wish to play around with. What happens is that ‘up is created at the expense of down’ and ‘down is created at the expense of up’, and so nothing is created without its logical inverse. The upshot of this is that the disturbance, the fluctuation, the vibration, never actually happened!

 

 

It never happened because for it to have happened [+] would have to be different to [-] and it isn’t. For there to be an oscillation between positive and negative these two poles obviously have to be separate, and they aren’t. They are just assumed to be separated from each other for the sake of the exercise. They are ‘taken as’ separate – a delay, a time-lag is thus introduced into the picture such that PLUS is different from MINUS, and this delay, this time-lag is what creates the wave…

 

 

The vibrations in emptiness are like the ‘vacuum fluctuations’ spoken of in physics, like the quantum froth that boils up constantly in the void of space, like all the pairs of subatomic particles and anti-particles that come into being out of nothingness before self-annihilating again after a time period too short to be measured. The entire universe, some physicists say, may be thought of as a sort of giant vacuum fluctuation, and in this case whilst we may say that the ‘fluctuation’ in question lasts X number of billions of years with regard to the framework of space and time that it itself assumes; outside of this provisional context we would have to say that it didn’t have any duration at all. It didn’t have any duration because linear time doesn’t exist outside of the space-time continuum. Outside of the space-time continuum there is no time, and so – from this perspective – the space-time fluctuation never happened. The bigger picture is therefore that the universe itself ‘never happened’.

 

 

All of this brings us back again to the point that we started off with, which is that the two choices, the two possibilities (the world of form versus profound emptiness) aren’t actually two choices at all. There is only profound emptiness. There appears to be the world of logic, structure, thought, names, goals and purposefulness but this is all it is – an appearance. The world of form is an exercise in disguised redundancy because the positive pole is really just the negative pole in disguise! We can separate the two poles in a ‘provisional’ kind of a way, but that is all. We have a bit of leeway there, but it is only virtual leeway. It is ‘leeway in a hallucination’. It is imaginary leeway. It is phantasmagorical leeway.

 

 

The world of form might seem reassuringly solid but it is a dream. Profound emptiness might be totally lacking in anything that we can hold onto, but it is the Fountain of Everything, the Mother of All, the Womb of Creation…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.

(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment