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Author Topic: Strange question
Adam Masterman
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This may seem random, its just something thats been on my mind lately.

There seems to be a specific kind of experience that comes about as a result of certain kinds of introspection, and in otfher contexts as well, one that seems to cross all kinds of cultural and religious barriers. In a nutshell, its the experience that, underneath the noisier levels of our mind and emotions, one can encounter a very basic and painful absense or hollowness. Its without any kind of content, just a fundamental void that is experienced as an aching sense of loss.

I've been told that Kierkegaard and contemporaneous thinkers in the Christian tradition referred to it as the "long, dark night of the soul" and that they felt that God had abandoned them. Not as an idea or a theory, but experientially it felt like He was achingly absent. I've also heard it referred to as a "God-shaped hole". My impression is that this experience is common enough to be somewhat universal.

In my tradition, its referred to as the "root klesha". Klesha means "afflictive emotion", and "root" refers to its being the source or base of all mental disturbances. Here is a really good description by an American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron:

quote:
Until then, I had avoided going to this place where I felt bad or unacceptable or unloved. No language could express how awful that place felt. But I just started breathing into it. I realized that this was a pivotal moment. Somehow, even with the divorce, I had never quite hit the bottom. And that evening, I did. I was seconds away from experiencing the death feeling.


The death feeling?

The deepest level of the dissatisfaction we all feel, and that Westerners misinterpret as something that’s wrong with them.

I think a lot of different traditions have different... explanations for this experience, but I'm more interested in the experiential aspects. Specifically, can anyone here relate through experiences in their own lives? Not a pleasant topic, I realize, but I am genuinely curious.

Adam

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kenmeer livermaile
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The Void exists within us just as the cosmos is largely empty.

It bothers us.

I like to fill the void with love.

It's the only thing that fits, I find.

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Colin JM0397
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Can't speak from my Lutheran upbringing, but from my "neo-pagan" ways these days, it sounds like what would happen if someone managed, however such things happen, to disconnect from the... not sure what to call it - the one God that is Love, the oneness of all that is - whatever you want to call it.

Never felt it & was going to say I never will, but, thinking it through, I do see why someone might:

To take a stab at why... From the Zen-type view, I suspect by disconnecting completely you learn to face your fear of aloneness and being nothing and, by facing such fears, it brings you closer to the oneness, God - whatever you choose to call it/him/her.

Interesting… I need to get back into meditation…

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Richard Dey
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"Crap happens and then you die." -- Roadhouse sign --

Homosexuals used to be brought up in a void, in a world that did not apply. "If not this, what?" -- Homosexuals --

Blacks used to be brought up in a void, in a world where they need not apply. I'm still not sure what they did about it.

I can't imagine it takes any great distance to travel into the mind to find voids. If all else fails, blow your credit at Mal-Mart, stuffing your mobile home with disposables.

"For every void in heaven, there's a place in hell." -- al Sherif --

"The only void in life is a lack of curiosity." -- D. W. Coulter --

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rightleft22
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Crap happens and then you don't die....

I don’t think the topic is unpleasant, perhaps precisely because we think it should be unpleasant that it plunges us deeper into the Dark night of the soul, we fight it, and we avoid it, even though we are always in someway in it.

A co-worker just told me that she doesn’t like to get flowers because they die. That is a attitude that I think is quite common.

Most tribes in the past had rituals to honour the Life/Death/Life cycle. The traditions are different but the same. The mystery that winter leads to spring, that death is required for life to continue and be reborn… It is Easter… it is the Death/Life/Death cycle and we fear it. It is the fear, I think, that leads to the dark night of the soul. Something is changing and when veiwed from within all we get to see is the black void of what is not yet.

quote:

“ Skeleton Woman, (The Life/Death/Life hag) she is the great teacher we have been saying we want. “No not this teacher!” we shriek when she arrives. We want a different one. Too bad. This is the teacher everyone gets. There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher appears. This means the interior teacher surfaces when the soul, not the ego, is ready. This teacher comes whenever the soul calls – and thank goodness, for the ego is never fully ready.” - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

“The work of the Life/Death/Life nature has to be done. Put off, Skeleton Woman skinks beneath the water, but will rise again and again and give chase again and again. It is her work to do this. It is our work to learn. If one wishes to love, there is not getting around it. The work of embracing her is a task. Without a task that challenges there can be no transformation. Without a task there is no real sense of satisfaction. To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his or her own fear. “ - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

“The running-and-hiding (The dark night) phase is the time during which we try to rationalize our fear of the Life/Death/Life cycles. We say, “I can do better with someone else,” or “I don’t want to give up my – (fill in the blank,)” or “I don’t want to change my life,” or “I don’t want to face my wounds or anyone else’s,” or “I’m not ready yet,” or “I don’t want to be transformed without first knowing in absolute detail what I will look like/feel like afterward.” - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

“Where ever love is nascent, the Life/Death/Life force will always surface. Always. (She is the teacher) - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

“You may imagine your life as a continuous line from birth to death. You may think of yourself as either growing or going stagnant. Another way, the traditional rite of passage approach, is to see life as a series of transformations, (Deaths and rebirths) in which you become a person with new capacities and talents. Each of these steps might have its own dark night. To be a person means that you are always becoming, and a dark night of the soul is one sign that you are alive.”
– Thomas Moore – (Dark Night of the Soul)

"The Abyss is not merely staring back at you: it forms and informs you, and moreover it is you."

“The thread is spun with tears, bleached by tears, the shirt sewn in tears… gives better protection than iron and steel.” – Kierkegaard.

“What one fears can strengthen, can heal.” - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

In ‘Learning to Fall: the Blessings of An Imperfect Life’ - Philip Simmons takes the reader on his coming to terms with dieing. Forced to look straight into the eyes of the “Death Hag” he sees life.
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kenmeer livermaile
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I hear mah train a-comin', y'all.

But the after void is a conjecture of the unknown.

A sense that one is hollow and empty is something else. Personally, I've always enjoyed release from identity. SInce I neither believe nor disbelieve God is with me or even exists to be with or abandon me, the void is my own.

When no one will ove me, it can yawn painfully. When I am loved (and this includes being loved by myself), then it echoes with contentment.

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Adam Masterman
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rightleft,

have you seen her (the death hag)? If so, what was it like?

Adam

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RickyB
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"by facing such fears, it brings you closer to the oneness, God - whatever you choose to call it/him/her."

I think in buddhism/zen a more appropriate term would be "void". I could be wrong. Adam?

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Adam Masterman
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Ricky,
Referring to that quote specifically, I don't think, from a Buddhist point of view, that there is anything we are suppossed to "get closer" to.

There is a basic humantendency to divide the world in to good and evil, and to then associate with what we call good. Each of us draws the line a little (or a lot) differently, but we still draw it. When we come to the dharma, the tendency is to redefine the domain of good in Buddhist terms. Thus, "goodness" becomes wisdom and compassion and selflessness and emptiness, and, just as before, we try to associate ourselves with the "good" and shield away the "bad". All that has changed is our labels.

This is the fault of spiritual materialism. It is one of the classic ways in which a spiritual practitioner fails to gain true insight, and its an especially pernicious one for us as westerners. The dharma is so exotic and cool that its very easy to slip into simply replacing our tired old predjudices for new, dharmic predjudices. [Smile]

Which is a long way of saying that, from a Buddhist perspective, we aren't trying to associate with any particular phenomena or diety. And the void that I have been asking about; we don't see it as a means to a positive end. At least in my understanding.

Adam

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RickyB
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But I've read Zen stories that potrayed in a positive light meditating on nothingness, or emptiness, or void.
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Adam Masterman
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Yes, by itself it is positive, relatively speaking. Or, we could say that it is positive from our point of view, because it frees us from suffering. But its the void itself, not any result coming out of it. In other words, its not a means to a different end, it is the end. And that doesn't change the fact that, experientially, we discover it as a source of enormous pain.

In a sense, its not that the void is positive, just that its the truth. Embracing the void, however, is liberation,simply because we stop struggling against the way things are.

But, from my point of view, thats just doctrine, because I am not enlightened. For me, the experience is overwhelmingly painful. Beautiful, too, but that may just be wishful thinking. [Smile] All doctrines aside, I'm curious if others have expereinced this too, and what they made of it.

Adam

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rightleft22
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I woke from a dream into a dream were I could not remember who I was, what I was, I saw myself looking at myself and recognised nothing. I sense that this was the gate way to madness. I turned my head and she was there, old, haggared, she sits in my chair by the bed, watching. I lashed out and my arm passes through her. She smiles and fades away as I "wake" drenched in sweat and fear…

Waking from surgery, I feel the blessed darkness of non-being, she was their holding me… to this day the longing to return hunts me but I must not, cannot, look at it.

I have dreamed of her, but I have not embraced her. I feel her whenever I attempt relationship. As her head rises above the water the urge is to turn and run…

I teeter on the edge. I wonder sometimes as I close my eyes at night if when I wake I will still be me, if I will have a self, and if I’m not would know the difference anyway.

Despair is replaced with detachment, but detachment is not life, the void beckons, she beckons.
I know the words but do I trust them, I do not jump.

“There is a vast difference between the need for solitude and renewal, and the desire to “take space’ to avoid the inevitable intercourse with Skeleton Woman. By intercourse, meaning exchange with and acceptance of the Life/Death/Life nature, is the next step in order to strengthen one’s ability to love. Those who enter into relationship with her will gain an enduring skill for love. Those who won’t won’t. There is no way around it.” - Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

[ October 05, 2006, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: rightleft22 ]

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rightleft22
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quote:
In other words, it’s not a means to a different end, it is the end.
Yet the void is also the beginning, The snake eating its own tail?

quote:
Embracing the void, however, is liberation, simply because we stop struggling against the way things are. And this changes us.
From the void we emerge as something that we were not before, parts of us have died.
Dieing can be very painful and scary, especially when we fight it.

The question becomes: what parts do we let die?
Which parts have we already let die without even noticing?

[ October 05, 2006, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: rightleft22 ]

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Colin JM0397
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I've heard it said that those who have consciously connected to... God, for lack of better term, have described all vibration, time, and the physical universe stopping and realizing that the only thing there is/was/will be is infinite Love. Everything else is a mere illusion.

I suppose if you're not ready for that perhaps the cesation of all physical vibrations and the loss of all time would seem like a huge, black hole...??? Particularly if you are tied to your physical body and this physical world, it could, quite literally, be a glimpse into hell whereas the same experience for someone else would be nirvana, Heaven, etc.

Interesting on the Skeleton Woman. My sister-in-law is getting married this weekend - it's going to be a Native American ceremony. I'll have to ask the elder performing the ceremony about her.

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rightleft22
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Marriage, something old, something new and something blue.
An entrance into the void of what might become. What was (old) becomes something other (new) in a process both joyous and painful – bitter sweet – (Blue)

Birthdays: we light and then blow out our canals, an acknowledgment, perhaps unconscious, to the void, the Life/Death/Life cycle?
What was, was. As we light the candle we hold on the parts we wish to keep but more importantly prepare to let go of, accept, the past we can not change and or should not hold on to. We began again, everyday, every year is a new beginning and as we blow out the candles know that we can literally change, be changed within every breath we take.

[ October 05, 2006, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: rightleft22 ]

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Adam Masterman
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Thanks for sharing all that, rightleft. Bittersweet is right. Read the exerpt paragraph at the top of this page:

http://wordgravity.blogspot.com/2005/08/fearlessness-and-genuine-heart-of.html

and see if it sounds familiar.

Adam

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0Megabyte
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I haven't read the thread yet, but...

Huh. Interesting coincidence. My favorite television show (NGE) seems to focus a lot on a crazy plot to cram all humanity into a single entity, for the purpose of filling in that god-shaped hole you speak of, Adam. Speaking of which, I just learned that one of the influences of the show WAS Kierkegard. I need to read him. I think they use as an episode name the term "Sickness Unto Death" which is a quote fro mhim, am I right?

Petty coincidence done. Now to read the posts...

Ahh. Yes. I do not think I'm skilled enough with words to respond properly to these ideas. Of course I understand the feeling of the void. Perhaps the futility of the world is related to that? Or is that the same thing? Hmm. I'll have to think, it seems, before I can respond.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Interesting coincidence. My favorite television show (NGE) seems to focus a lot on a crazy plot to cram all humanity into a single entity, for the purpose of filling in that god-shaped hole you speak of, Adam. Speaking of which, I just learned that one of the influences of the show WAS Kierkegard."

Wow. The Toy That Grew Up is no longer cinema but TV. Tres sophisticated.

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0Megabyte
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Um... what?
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kenmeer livermaile
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'The Toy That Grew Up' was the title of a 60s TV series on early cinema, mostly B&W silent stuff. Cinema became far more sophistaced 50-60 years after it began. I felt that the TV plot you described was very sophisticated.
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0Megabyte
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Oh. lol, okay then. I didn't get the reference, as, after all, I am young.

I can't imagine it. I'll be talking making references to pokemon and power rangers and my grandkids will have no frackin clue what I'm talking about.

Wait. I can imagine it. It's scary as hell.

Anyway, yeah, it's like that. The show mixes Feudian psychology (ick), Judeo-Christian symbology (what an... ironic combination, ne?) and philosophers like Kierkegard and mixes it together with conspiracy theories, giant robots, graphic violence, technobabble and Oedipus complexes. With clones. Set at the end of the world. (No rapturing, though. Just icky blood and cross-shaped explosions.)

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kenmeer livermaile
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OK. Not so sophisticated. Just The Toy That Grew... and Grew... And Grew...
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0Megabyte
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Well, actually, it is sophisticated. But it's still television. (made by a guy who is at minimum clinically depressed...)

I was having fun with the description. Really, it's a show about the end of the world. And philosophical/psychological angst.

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Richard Dey
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The Masterman 12-Step Void-Filling Diet in only 11 Steps!

G O O D

B A A D


1. [Confused] Insert blank labels into printer.
2. Press PRINT LABELS [Eek!] .
3. [Roll Eyes] Remove backing from printed labels.
4. Paste labels as appropriate over labels on cooky jars -- [Confused] -- whichever.
5. Fill cookie jars with preferred cookies.
6. Eat cookies from either jar.
7. Feel good about yourself [Cool] !
8. Have another cookie [Embarrassed] !
9. Feel bad about everybody else [Frown] !
10. Have another cookie, enraged that the limit on emoticookies is only 8!
11. Kick ass [Mad] , feel great!

$29.95 with free mailing! $39.95 after the Holidays! $19.95 NOW -- if you mention the Master!

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Adam Masterman
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Richard is describing the fault of nihilism (not cultural! [Smile] ). Its thinking that we need the essentially neurotic quality of a judging mind in order to be moral. Fundamentally, it speaks of a basic distrust of our own human nature. We need to police ourselves constantly to avoid being evil. The alternative, one imagines, is apathy and spiritual pride.

I can't think of a more destructive and hurtful lie. The extent to which we believe it is the extent to which we suffer in life. Period. What a wretched state of affairs ("Great Teachers, who wish to pass into the final nirvana, I beg you, stay behind for countless eons, do not leave the world in darkness!).

Of course, that's just my opinion (not that I figured this out for myself, of course). To each his own.

Adam

[ October 06, 2006, 05:44 PM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Zyne
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Yea, but I'm not going to waive that dirty laundry in public. [Razz]

I have some words to say what I think you're getting at--the place that is the precipice to nothing. The realization that you have loved breathing in snowflakes made of razors. Where you drip 'et tu'. When you understand that gravity is just a theory.

Being there, it's exquisite agony.

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javelin
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OH MY GOSH! IS THAT ZYNE? Nice to see you are still kicking there, Zyne. [Big Grin]
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KnightEnder
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"I went to the edge...
I stood and looked down...
You know I lost a lot of friends there, baby...
I got no time to mess around..."

"Most men live lives of quiet desperation."

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