Settling into Emptiness

Many people had transcended and mystical experiences of boundless Love, Presence and what is expressed in Buddhism as Emptiness – eternal unlimited space permeated with peace and sense of well-being. It is commonly accepted that this mystical experience is temporal and will fade into a memory as all other experiences. And yet, what is shown to us in this moment is something beyond the very notion of experience, a glimpse of something that underneath of all experiences, something that has no beginning and no end.

Immediately after this experience of transcendence, we might feel blissful, happy, full of joy and light, yet our mind can be fuzzy and unfocused. However, at that time, we can’t care less against the background of intense well-being and feeling of love. It takes time for the brain to incorporate this radically new phenomenon into our perception, can be quite a long time! In my case it took about 3 years, with the first year being mostly in heightened blissful state, being active in the world, traveling, volunteering, hiking long distance trails, feeling like flying with an amazing burst of energy.

Somewhere around the second year, I felt a need for solitude, for staying alone without any need to escape anything or anyone. It was like this simple desire to submerge myself in a pure crystal water of Emptiness and let it cleanse whatever was left of my confusion and suffering. At that time I really didn’t even think about it, it was simply a need to be alone, and I couldn’t even guess that it would take 2 years. I stayed mostly in the Buddhist monasteries of Thailand and Malaysia, thankfully, there are plenty of them and conditions are excellent for a long retreat, no questions asked, a cost is by donation, lovely food, and perpetual tropical summer. Days were flying by, easy and effortless, conflicting patterns of thinking like “becoming someone” again would surface and disappear without a trace, and the background of intense vivid silence, hardly noticed before became more and more prominent, felt by my whole being, so real and palpable, more real than any fleeting experience, blissful or painful…

After 2 years something inside me wanted to go and experience the world again, so I did. Traveling, volunteering again, working as a teacher with a lot of talking with people after so much silence. Surprisingly, it all was easy, the underlying silence never left, it was always there, in the noisiest parts of the world, in the busiest and most stressful situations. Very natural, simple, restful and pure. It seems like in this long time-out something was allowed to mature, to ripen, to run its course. My mind had an opportunity to settle into the Emptiness, to become familiar with it, learn to live with it, to integrate it with the impermanence of everyday experience.

All experiences are fleeting and impermanent, including mystical and transcended. And yet, what are they showing to us? Glimpses of what? After a certain age, our brain can be slow and sluggish when it comes to learning anything new, like playing a musical instrument or speaking a foreign language. Creative ideas take some time to mature and find their full expression, but with spirituality, we often have this childish idea of instant and miraculous transformation. And when it doesn’t conform to our expectations we tend to drag it down to what is known and familiar as “temporary”, slander or abandon the whole thing. Maybe a bit too early…

Nelli Kite

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  1. Lovely writing Nelli. Yes, there’s no handbook for awakening. The mind wants to grasp, to know, to be certain. But what is certain? Just another illusion in thought to be seen and with the seeing comes letting go… back to just this.

  2. Thanks! Sure, that’s the most difficult thing to accept for the mind, there is no certainty in any concept, any thought, it all can be twisted and changed…nothing really to grasp…Awakening is really the whole different way of living…

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