Our deepening into what we are, is a path into the void.
And what prevents us from noticing ourselves as the void, is exactly that which propels us to notice ourselves as void: an identification with content. It is the identification with content (any content of awareness) that clouds over a recognition of ourselves as awake void, and it is the same identification which creates a sense of something being off (in whatever form… unease, restlessness, dissatisfaction, suffering) which invites us onto the path of finding ourselves as (already and always) awake void… and the content of this awake void as the awake void itself.
The content of awareness is always in flux… so if there is identification there, there is also preferences, and life clashing against those preferences, so then also suffering. When life shows up according to the preferences, there is joy and satisfaction. When it does not, disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, suffering. In this sense, the world of form is a wave with peaks and valleys, and one follows the other.
It is a rollercoaster ride, and when there is identification there, it is as if we are sitting inside of the rollercoaster. We are along for the ride, at the mercy of wherever the tracks take us. When the track goes up, what we take ourselves to be goes up, and when it goes down, what we take ourselves to be goes down. For a while, it can be fun and even fascinating, and there are enough peak moments to make it worthwhile. But then there are the lows as well, which are equally tormenting as the peaks are enjoyable.
(I know this is not a perfect analogy… Many folks enjoy rollercoasters, but I don’t so much so this works for me…!)
We may try to redesign the track to have more or bigger peaks and to design out the lows, but we see that the peaks are still followed by the lows, no matter what.
After a while, after having gone around the track for several times, a question comes up. Isn’t there something else to life? Is it always going to be this way? I have tried all sorts of techniques and tricks to change content, but peaks are still followed by lows. We start to explore other options.
This may lead us to first find ourselves as an outside observer, as the witness of it all. But there is still separation here, so still some dissatisfaction. And since there is an identification with an aspect of what is, in this case the seeing, it is also inherently unstable. Identifications too are in flux.
Then, we may find ourselves as the space it all happens within, but this too is not quite satisfactory for the same reasons as mentioned above.
To stretch the analogy a little, we can also identify with the alive presence that everything happens within and as (the soul level), but this too is unsatisfactory in the long run and for the same reasons.
And then, finally, as the void it all happens within and as. The awake timeless void that time and space, the amusement park and the rollercoaster and the observer and anything else happens within, and which is nothing other than the awake void itself.
Looking back, we may see that not having much of a stomach for the rollercoaster ride was actually a good thing, propelling us to explore alternatives and finally to happen upon ourselves as the awake void, doing away with any identifications, any sense of inner and outer, any sense of center, any sense of an I with an Other.