Emptiness and Spirituality

“Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.” D.T. Suzuki, author of “An Introduction to Zen Buddhism”

This will be a short blog, and no apologies: I’m focussed now and deep in the writing of my “men’s guilt” book – the quotation marks are merely because I and those around me have called it that for the 12 years since I wrote the book on women’s experiences of Catholic guilt and the effects on their lives. This book is intended as a focus on a more universal experience of guilt. I think this might be quite a long haul!

So …. emptiness. Creating space, and creating an emptiness in your life is a very positive and powerful thing to do, as Suzuki says above in the quote. However:

As far as I believe, a human being’s emptiness comes from lacking something in our life, from what I call being lost in our own life.

But something else is going on here, as I now understand from researching about men’s archetypes and the energies of the masculine which actually drive us all unconsciously.

I now understand that “being lost” is how the immature masculine energy of loving actually materialises in a man’s life …. I won’t comment or offer any examples or stories here as I am still “processing” this understanding. However, the person who is empty and “lost” – probably due to a lack of a mature male figure in their life – will have chased women, chased sensual experiences and is more often than not a spiritual seeker who is always “searching”. The search is for the “one thing” that will bring the fragments of self together. This is of course impossible. But when you are spiritually empty, lost and lacking I’m guessing it seems on the surface the only path to take.

So lack is to need, to want, to miss something. Emptiness is experienced when we feel at a loss about understanding life, about the way the world works – and the meaning of it all.

There is a sense of shame that goes along with being lost in life.

When you’re lost, often you’re not being successful, not being seen to achieve very much. And achieving success in work, or relationships, or sports and other interests is highly valued in the world we live in. So I see people who are lost and empty trying to fill up the spaces in their lives with sex, alcohol or drugs, shopping or food, and maybe illness.

Those of us who don’t feel this emptiness, who are fulfilled and have made sense of what we can in our lives, believe that the empty space gets filled up with spirituality.

This spirituality we sense, or feel or see, or know or understand in many ways: it is often an acceptance of who we are and our place in the scheme of things. Everything (as in “not nothing”) seems to settle into some kind of centred experience of a wholeness in ourself and life.

So, we experience spirituality as a knowing that we are more than a body, a lump of skin and bone – a knowledge that we have a mind, a spirit, a soul; it can be an understanding that a human life has a purpose and all the lives and all the purposes are important; it’s an experience of a connection with the world, the rest of humanity, nature, the universe, the powers that be, ‘god’ or the gods and goddesses – and whatever else your belief system may call them.

I’ll leave you with this from Dainin Katagiri, Zen master as it so beautiful:

Life is crying

If we observe the human world closely, we can hear a very deep sound. 

It is a kind of voice, yet it is voiceless, a voice at the bottom of the human heart.

It is the sound of life crying. 

It is there and you are there too, but you can’t evaluate it. 

Whether you are in the middle of success or failure, your life cries . . . “

The Regarder of the Cries of the World

is all of us but not any one of us in particular

Dainin Katagiri


Namaste, Susan

An edited version From: Daddy’s Girl’s Guilty as Hell, Susan Ni Rahilly

Susan Ni Rahilly is founder of suZenYoga: Spirituality, Understanding, Zen, Energy and Nutrition through dedication to Yoga. SuZenYoga Daily News is here. Susan’s Speaking Tree India master’s blog is here.


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