No related posts.
Archetype of the Void
Fundamental to all experience are the opposites of emptiness and fullness, space and substance, sound and silence, something and nothing. We not only meet these polarities at every moment in such things as hearing a sound that is only apparent because it is surrounded by silence – the silence between the sounds – but also all people and objects are only individually identifiable because they exist in empty space. But more important than that in understanding the archetype of the void is that each day we cycle through the alternating experience of existing and not existing – of having focussed personal awareness and then meeting the loss of it in sleep. The midway point between these polarities is dreams.
In dropping into this experience of sleep where there is a void or loss of personal awareness, we lose any sense of self and body and so the transition from waking self awareness to the void is easy. But the archetype of the void is about meeting it with awareness. For many people this can be a difficult or frightening thing. We tend to think of the void as a huge nothingness, a vacuum in which the human personality will disappear. This can seem very frightening, that behind everything is a sort of nothingness. The amusing thing is that this is an everyday human experience. In sleep we have dropped into that void. Our personality has indeed, as far as we are concerned, melted away and disappeared. Yet the next morning we awake and all is well. We have survived.
When people thing of the void they usually see it as a destruction of everything – a death of self. But the nothingness of the void is part of the paradox of existence – for the nothingness is at the same time everything. But everything is all inclusive. As such it cannot have any defined characteristics or shape, otherwise it wouldn’t be everything. The Next Step.
The conscious meeting with the void is part of the gradual expanding of personal awareness. It is akin to, or the same as, going to sleep with full awareness. When we sleep our body and brain enter into a very different state; we lose awareness of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch; our voluntary muscles are paralysed, and our experience is internalised. So, consciously entering sleep is a journey into a very strange world completely unlike our waking life. Part of that world is the full surround virtual reality of dreams, but there are dimensions beyond imagery, beyond form, beyond the opposites, beyond personal separated existence. This is the void, and to confront it consciously is a transformative experience.
The void may be depicted in a dream by a shimmering haze, a transparent wall into which you can walk and become absorbed. At times it might be shown as the ocean, falling into space or a huge abyss’ or a massive hole. At other times it might be met as an ordinary scene or object that yet is seen as infinite space or complete liberation or a wonderful or threatening emptiness. Meeting such imagery or experiences in any degree produces powerful personal change. It produces a new sense of oneself; one no longer focussed on the ego or body personality – the self we consider ourselves to be through our body shape, gender, beauty or ugliness, or through our social position, our wealth, work or acclaim. It is, as the Buddhists name it, liberation. Meeting it is part of what Jung calls individuation. See: example under void.
When we do meet it however, the strange thing is that what appeared as an absence or denial of oneself is actually an addition. Suddenly we see that everything has been added, and nothing taken away.
The negative aspect of this archetypical experience is the loss of any personal meaning or motivation, the feeling of melting and perhaps even death. The positive side is of tremendous opportunity to live beyond previous limitations and boundaries; the realisation of ones own core existence in timelessness and infinite potential, along with the meaninglessness of prevalent views of death.
Useful Questions and Hints:
What do I feel about the nothingness that constantly surrounds me?
Am I scared of the idea of that at base I might not exist in the same way I usually see myself?
Can I let go of all that is involved in the little me and surrender to the vast me?