It seems that any quality can be filtered through a sense of self or a realization of selflessness.
Emptiness is one of those.
Here is how it shows up for me now, when I look into it…
Filtered through sense of I
Filtered through a sense of self, I can see how it can show up in two distinct ways.
One is a sense of emptiness as empty of meaning, a sense of my own insignificance, my own lack. Here, I am aware of the weaknesses and limitations of my human self, and filter this through a strong sense of I and Other. I am weak and insiginficant here, the world is so much larger and more powerful out there, and the sense of disconnection betwee the two brings up dismay, hopelessness, meaninglessness and so on. This is what some of the western existentialists explore.
The other is also a recognition of my own insignificance in the big picture, that I – as a human being, is infinitely small in an infinitely much larger world. I alone am nothing. Everything I am and my whole existence is dependent on this larger whole. I am empty of any power on my own, and am alive and active only through the grace of the larger whole. This sense of emptiness on my human level is filtered through a sense of connection with the larger whole, so it opens up for gratitude, humility, compassion, sense of belonging, meaning and so on. This is what the Universe Story opens up for.
Filtered through realization of selflessness
Filtered through a realization (or even taste) of selflessness, the same emptiness takes on a very different quality. Or maybe more accurately qualities, as it depends on the clarity and depth of the realization of selflessness.
Here are a couple of ways of talking about it…
- My human self, and anything I ever took as an “I”, is revealed as empty of any inherent “I”. It is not a doer. There is only the doing, but no doer. Or rather, the whole is doing through this local human self – and it appears as if it is all just happening on its own. My human self is a temporary vortex in the stream of the world of phenomena.
- The groundless ground awakens to itself and the play of forms it temporarily takes on. This is emptiness dancing.