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The Joy of Nothing



by David Papa


5 min read

· spirituality,words

"But if there were a king over us all again and he sought counsel of a mage, as in the days of old, and I were that mage, I would say to him: My lord, do nothing because it is righteous or praiseworthy or noble to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do and which you cannot do in any other way.” - Ged The Mage


From The Books of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin.

I'm in my house. The Czech government has banned anyone going outside except for absolutely necessary food gathering or family visits. So I'm doing nothing. It's so great. And yet, I notice a part of my mind is quite agitated. It is not my real voice, it is society in my head, or something I learned as a child.

I'm noticing we are obsessed with doing something. We need to buy something, we need to create something, we need to tell someone something, we need to fix something, we need to get something, we need other people to do something in exactly the way we think it should be done. The heroes in our movies always take the boldest (and usually violent) action. The stories of our entrepreneurs are that they charged ahead and become self-made successes of something. So many somethings.

And where is happiness found in these things? All this doing something is supposed to make us happy and free and joyous, no? How has that worked out for humanity and the earth, so far? We are more physically comfortable yet more depressed than ever, and we are destroying the parts of the environment we require for life. If doing was the answer to our greatest humanity, I think we would have done it by now.

But we can't stop, because we are terrified of Nothing. Do you remember the child's movie, The Never-ending Story? The villian in that movie was The Nothing. The Nothing is evil, it takes away all the good land and fun characters. The Nothing sucks that snail guy out of the giant rock monster’s big strong hands. Very scary. I used to like this movie.

We obsess over somethings to keep the Nothing at bay. Do we ever stop to ask where all these somethings came from? Where does physical reality come from?

We don't know. Spirituality has a guess. The Tao Te Ching tells us in no uncertain terms. All something comes from Nothing. The source of all the somethings is Nothing. A vast infinite No-thingness. It cannot be named. If we try to name it we immediately put it in a box that it does not fit inside. So we cannot say it is something. It is Nothing. Everything else springs from that. Physics calls this the 0-point field. But even that just describes the most subtle layer that we know of where the Nothing starts to become something.

And we all come from this Nothing, too. We might call it God. Or Life. We might call it Consciousness. But all these are mental names and don't match it. They are boxes that cannot contain It. It is Nothing. We are that because everything is That.

Did you ever stop to think of the implications of this? Love, joy, and happiness, all those things come from the Nothing. And we are sitting here messing around with all our somethings, trying to get our physical circumstances just right so we can get those good feelings. But those feelings do not come from somethings. We are playing the game all wrong. These somethings can never bring us what we want to feel for any length of time. Because all somethings are temporary and all the feelings we get from somethings is temporary. This is why we are on a something treadmill, never able to stop running to the next good feeling.

How do we get off? We realize we are Nothing, and since the Nothing contains everything, we are already everything we want.

This is what we realize when we have ecstatic spiritual experiences. In those moments, the sense of being "something" pretty much dies, and we feel bigger, fuller, expanded, spread out, feeling and sensing the magnificence of all of it. The body and mind was still there, but we also sense that we are everything, and that all this everything comes from Nothing. That we are Nothing, too. Oh My God. The Freedom.

I’ve had several of these experiences. One common element for me is that when I come back from these moments, I feel so certain that everything is perfect. This is what all the deepest spiritual teachers say. It’s all God. It’s all happening and moving and it’s perfect. It's what the saints tell us. It's available to everyone because we are this Nothing. And I have really felt that. More than once.

It feels indescribably good. It’s so amazingly good. It feels like truth and love and joy all at once. And the conclusion from those moments is so obvious, there is nothing I need to do. Nothing. It’s all perfect already, and whatever I do is also perfect. The Nothing needs nothing from me.

Can you hold that for a second? What if nothing was needed from you? Nothing. You would be free. You would only act when it felt good and true and right and fun. You would only act when the Nothing so clearly moved in you to become something that you were compelled. In this acting, you would match the joy of nothing with the action of something. That is what we are really all looking for. That is what feels like ecstasy in the human body. That is what I believe Jesus meant by this quote:

"I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me." - Jesus, from the Book of John

We all come from the Nothing, and when we let the Nothing guide us, we are in harmony. When we are not obsessed with somethings, we get to feel the power, love, and joy of the Nothing. The Will of the Nothing. It's not easy to stay non-obsessed with something. It happens to me all the time. But the amazing thing is that, because we are Nothing, we can tune into our Nothingness, and immediately feel effing amazing.

Here is how I tune in. I like to think of the Nothing like this: it is the Nothing that is between and underneath all somethings. When I see it this way, and I get really quiet, and I open my awareness, I can actually start to tune into it. I start with inside my body, feeling all the in-betweenness. Then I feel outside my body. All the space between somethings.

Do you know we are 99.99% space? Did you know that all the mass in our body, if it was all directly next to each other would be the size of a pin-head? That's not a coincidence, it is because we are Nothing. When we can embrace this, it feels so good.

My greatest doing is to be Nothing. It’s so joyous. And everything flows effortlessly from this. Maybe these crazy corona times, locked up at home, will help that happen. Don't take my word for it. Try it yourself. There is no better time to do Nothing.

Love, David

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