Personal Tao - Chapter 42

 

Illuminating the Empty Space

We are the light of our own empty space.
What is the Empty Space?

Take some clay. Feel it in your hands. Now spin it upon a potter’s wheel. What is shaped? A bowl comes out. However, the bowl is defined by an empty space, a space enclosed by the bowl’s very form. The empty space holds the water, fulfilling the purpose of the bowl. The actual physical form of the bowl is reflected by the empty space it projects. The final use and form of the bowl is determined in the moment of artistry used to spin out the shape.

In this example, the bowl is made from clay. The clay forms the body, but the actual bowl projects out as more than a clay shell; it must include the “empty space” in its definition. In fact, a bowl is more about the “empty space” than the materials comprising the bowl.

In living, we each have a physical form which is mirrored by an empty space. The process of shaping this space is the very definition of a person’s free will.

Free will is the ability to express the very nature of the empty space. Free will is the whim of the moment, the place before the dream, the moment of shaping.

In part, our initial empty space is formed by parents, elders, teachers, culture, our bodies and tendencies of the mind. Yet each person has an incredible degree of freedom to shape his or her own empty space. At certain times this process is more dramatic than others, such as being a teenager or experiencing a mid-life crisis. These moments stand out as a time to question earlier frameworks that shaped our forms. These times can be difficult due to the twisting of our core shape and beliefs: a time when our very nature is in flux. Often a person reshapes their empty space without the benefit of outside perspective, adding to the frustration and chances of something “breaking”. A person never truly breaks, but radically changing one’s own empty space reflects out to form a vastly different person after the experience.

Consciousness

Consciousness is the awareness of one’s empty space.

To fill the empty space painters splash out art, poets weave words, scientists document facts, parents embrace children, prophets preach, couch potatoes watch television… and the list goes on. The point is: being conscious, people feel a need to fill this space.

As the physical form is an accessible part of our being, some conclude that the empty space must likewise be filled with something physical, something tangible. Others feel the mind should provide a definable label for their reflected nature. This is the very search for the meaning of life: a person trying to figure out what to place within their empty space.

The meaning of life isn’t something that fills the empty space.

Perhaps this is why people have such a hard time defining the soul. We know the soul includes the empty space. For some, the soul takes on the ethereal aspects of the empty space as the indefinable qualities of life. A Taoist knows the soul is always at hand. To be an artist is to touch and reveal the empty space of the soul.

The meaning of life is the artistry to craft the empty space.

Paths

It’s time to come full circle in the book.

Another definition of the Tao is that it’s the empty space.

A Personal Tao could be described as the process of defining one’s empty space. It’s the expression of free will to have a hand in shaping your own empty space. Free will means no single, predefined final form to this empty space is forced upon a person. The empty space is defined only upon using and completely living life. Yes, a limit exists to the number of destinations that are available, yet living is the freedom of action to shape our life.

Instead of worrying about the shape of life, follow Wu-Wei, flow to what feels right without thought: express the empty space with peace, love, and exploration. Such action becomes true artistry upon one’s soul.

The only limit being the imagination itself.
Be free, be yourself.

Space

In working with greater challenges, we must also create space that allows for our growth to handle new challenges.

This is simple, as it’s always possible to remove:
Fear, judgment, prejudice, envy, greed, worry and so many other negative attachments.

Normally people go out to face the world thinking that it is an unchanging personal story that makes them strong. But even stories are merely clothes worn for color and identification. Even ego is merely a story in the end. Every story wears thin after enough times being told.

Ultimate strength is in the ability to release; Ultimate grace is allowing our stories to shift as we grow.
We can never be filled by our desires nor possessions

Living can never be fully shaped by desiring possessions. This is because our empty space can never be fully defined by the lack of something.

Explore Your Essence

First: Learn how to trust your intuition.

Second: Let go of judgments that hold you back.

Third: Remove conflict and anger from your relationships.

Fourth: Be kind to yourself and pace your life to match your essence.

This is a powerful concept from many different angles.

The most apparent angle is: Living by consumption, such as the American material lifestyle, only fuels a chase, a lifestyle requiring burning possessions to fill a person’s empty space.

Think about this. Living upon chasing possession means the actual possession of the item can never be satisfying. This is interesting to me, as American culture contains so many stories of a material lifestyle being futile. Many people chase the dream of possession. The lure of being something else, someone else, so much richer, a dream of what we might be: being more attractive than what we are.

Here is the reason why:

Human nature includes the gift of being able to see: we can be more. This why so many people fail to see the beauty of who we are now. Tomorrow can always appear to be better when problems will always exist in the now.

Taoist practice teaches how to balance our potential with what we are now. Taoists are soul crafters: working upon shaping a life with the flow of experiencing now rather than filling in life with illusions of what we think we should be.

Another Way to See the Empty Space

It is interesting: To be alive
Is to be many things.
But life is never empty
In fact, our lives fill in the void
which becomes: us

So many insist on filling it with empty things: paperwork, complaints, television, pain relievers, greed, material items and other cargo… which then only limits you to be that cargo.

Now if you leave your inner space to be empty, to be OPEN: ironically that emptiness is the entire universe. When you connect to this truth, you then become one with everything.

Consciousness

A Question of Consciousness

What do you think it is?

One truth is we are connected into a weave of consciousness. It’s the tapping into that weave of consciousness that represents one area of spiritual practice.

The whole field of consciousness is exploding right now with discoveries and ideas. The quality and scope of materials in the last ten years are breathtaking. I can summarize from much of what I am reading: many in science are concluding that consciousness is a property of the universe and that the older spiritual teachings are close to the truth. That all consciousness is connected to consciousness.

A Simple View

Most simply put: Consciousness is self-awareness. Buddhist thought goes into great detail on this topic. Taoist thought less so.

I think myself and AM myself and move thru life to experience connections of action. The three blend to form a conscious life we each live.

Consciousness is a tricky beast. We aren’t centered in a brain in Taoist thought; we are centered in the heart mind. Consciousness is a statement of connection, it requires a relationship to be active, it requires connection to be aware, It is a reflection of our larger essence, and our larger essence consists of all the interconnections we are comprised of: both inner and outer connections.

If you only look at the brain, you miss the more substantial passive connections that are a part of our nature. Our logic only sees many separate consciousnesses trying to figure out how they are all related to each other.

When we embrace the empty space, our connection to consciousness shines out to reveal all the links and wholeness back to one consciousness.

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Carmen

Can we just enjoy that empty space by breathing it in not bound to fill it up, but to feel its infinite vista?

Kris

I so enjoy your articles!!

Namaste

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