The Source and the Void

We have exactly the same access to the Source of Life and Being, to the presence of the sacred, to the Numen, as anyone ever.

They weren’t closer to the Source in the old days—they weren’t holier than we are, or wiser. Their only advantage over us was that they had fewer illusions/distractions/escapes with which to contend. They were more dependent upon their connection with the Source than we are. We have MasterCard, and 401-K’s, and all the other cushions we have created to protect us from the encroaching terrors. We have buffers standing between us and the Void. We have Global Positioning Systems to direct our steps. They only had what they knew of the numinous reality–for the mystery–that has always been called God.

There is much to be said for being stuck with only the Numen for a resource. It sharpens our intuitive powers, and heightens our feel for things. We can much better read the signs pointing out the way—we can much better sense the divine flow—we are much better oriented toward how things are, and how things truly ought to be—when we actually need to know those things, and don’t have anything else to divert our attention from the fact of our need for them, or offer competing directions or inauthentic pulls and pushes.

When we don’t have much in the way of personal resources, we don’t waste time trying to bring our will to bear upon the world of space and time, to have our way realized upon the earth. When we are helpless, and know we are helpless, we are much more likely to cooperate with what has need of us. The more power we think we have, the more our own needs and interests come into play, and we spend our time trying to effect our will for how we want things to be, and are not interested in a will that might be different from our own.

On the other hand, the percentage of those who were attuned to the presence and direction of the Source of Life and Being among the ancient population was probably no greater than the percentage of those so attuned among the present population. They had their own distractions, and their own ideas about how their life should be—and kept Shamans on hand to tell them what would please the invisible forces, and keep their food sources close at hand.

Whether then, or now, the proximity of the Source to both populations is exactly the same. The experience of the numinous reality that has always been called God is no farther from us now than it was then. The only thing that has ever been standing between us and the experience of that reality is ourselves. We only have to get out of the way, and we find the invisible world where it has always been: Right There!

It simplifies things if we understand there is only one thing about ourselves that we have to give up: Illusion. We have to hand over the illusion of power, the illusion of independence, the illusion of self-reliance, the illusion of control, the illusion of knowing where we are going, what we are doing.

No power, no control—that’s the reality. Here’s the illusion: I’m in charge. I’m in command. I’m the Master of my own fate, the Captain of my own destiny. The illusion is a tough one to hand over—it’s generally the last thing that goes, but, we aren’t going to know the Source until we know in our bones that apart from the Source there is nothing.

“Nothing” is another name for the Void. There is the world of normal, apparent reality. There is the reality of the invisible world—the experience of the numinous, the Numen, the sacred Source of Life and Being. And, there is the Void. That’s it. That is absolute, total, complete, final, real, ultimate reality. There is nothing between Us (That would be the visible world) and the Void, but the Source (That would be the invisible world).

This is the knowing that makes the Source, the invisible world, real in our lives. And, you can imagine, if you let yourself, how awful it is to come to the place of that knowing. To do that, we have to be stripped of all that we place between ourselves and the experience of the Void. The great mass of things we have gathered around us to protect us from the awareness of the Void is also what keeps us from the awareness of the Source. It’s what we depend on to make life grand—to make life fun, meaningful, enjoyable and worthwhile.

We see life-as-we-have-constructed-and-know-it as providing protection from the Void. We wrap it around us, we immerse ourselves in our relationships, achievements, possessions, acquisitions, and think, “Now we have it made! The Void can’t get us now!” Yet, it only takes one little something—say, the physicians telling us that our child has a month to live—for all of it to mean nothing. All that we place between ourselves and the Void is actually emptiness just waiting to be recognized. It doesn’t protect us from anything. It’s an extension of the Void. It’s the Void in disguise. It’s the Void setting us up to be totally devastated when it becomes apparent to us that there is nothing to any of it.

From one point of view, to say that there is nothing to any of it, suggests that the Void is everywhere and that it is hopeless, pointless, and makes no sense to go on. From another point of view, to say that there is nothing to any of it is to say that, nestled in the wonder of numinous reality, we know that the Void is there, and from the standpoint of our presence with the Presence, we know that, guess what, there is nothing to it. There is nothing to Nothing! That’s what we know in the presence of the Source of Life and Being. We have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. We have it all, and can lose none of it, because it is all right here, wrapped up in being present with that which can be sensed, and known, but not said, and explained, or understood.

This isn’t to discount our losses. It isn’t to say they aren’t real, or that we shouldn’t do what we can to avoid tragedy, calamity, and hard rows to hoe. We should do everything we can to make things as good as they can be for ourselves and others, using the things at our disposal to do that. The ethical principle is to live as extensions of Numinous Presence in the world, using what we find there in the service of those ends.

We bring the values at the heart of life and being to life in the physical world. We live to express the amazing wonder of life within the world of space and time. And that means bearing the pain of the tension between worlds—between conflict and disparity between worlds—between what needs to happen in this world of space and time and what is actually possible here. This is the agony of God that we bring forth in our own life, much as Jeremiah did in his life (“O land, land, land! Hear the word of the Lord!”), and as Jesus did in his life (“How long am I to bear with you? How long must I put up with you and your hard-headed refusal to care or to understand?”). We live caught between what needs to be done, and what can be done, and do what we can.

Joseph Campbell summed up the Bhagavad-Gita as saying, “Get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome!” This has to be our response to the clash between worlds—between realities. We get in there and do our thing, and let the outcome be the outcome!

We come into the world as a bundle of libido—life energy—dying to be expended before we die. Expended in the simple effort to meet our life straight on, and do our best with what confronts us in each day!

But, instead, we dodge all that can be dodged, and escape the rest, frittering life away on trivial pursuits, looking for smooth and easy, avoiding life’s pain and troubles (And denying what cannot be avoided), as libido waits, panics, seethes and schemes to find ways of expressing itself while there is yet time.

Time is life’s only hope. Time is all life has. If time isn’t spent living—in the fullest sense of the word—time is lost, never to be regained. The unpardonable sin is life un-lived.

Carl Jung said, “It is the sole purpose of the libido to strive forever forward—to lead a life that willingly accepts all dangers and ultimate decay” (or words to that effect).

If we refuse to cooperate with life’s purpose to be lived, if we hold back, hide from the terrors of the night, fail to sail into the heaving waves of the wine-dark sea, and have nothing to do with the dreaded responsibilities and duties incumbent upon those who would find their own way and pay the price—if we say no to life, life says no to us, and we die dreaming of a life we never lived, because we didn’t have the courage to meet the day’s demands, and take our lumps, and rack up our losses—laughing and loving it all, every bit, every day—life, just as it is!

Our place is to wake up to all of this and say, “We have done what we have done, and here we are.” We have to make our peace with that, and do what needs to be done in this moment, as well as we can make that out, and do it as well as we can do it, and let that be that—and go on doing what needs to be done in each moment, as well as we can make that out… For the rest of our life.

We live what remains of our life consciously, mindfully, as expressions of the values at the heart of life in the world of normal, apparent reality. In the world of normal, apparent, reality there is good and there is bad, there is gain and there is loss, there is advantage and there is disadvantage. In the physical world, our losses are real losses. We cannot discount them, or deny their impact by saying that in the invisible world there is nothing to be lost, and nothing to be gained. Here our losses are real, and must be mourned and grieved as such. Here our losses have to be feared and, to the extent possible, prevented. And here, perspective and orientation come into play.

We can live to insulate ourselves against the intrusion of the Void, or we can live to celebrate, experience, and express the reality of the presence of the sacred in the shadow of the Void, without being obsessed with the Void, or terrified by it. Living as expressions of sacred presence implicates us in the service of the good. We live to deepen the experience of the good in the lives of all people. This is fundamentally different from living to deny the reality of The Void, to avoid the experience of emptiness and loss, and to keep the truth of sorrow and suffering away.

To serve the good, and live as extensions of sacred presence, is to step into the heart of the Void with those whose life experience takes them there; it is to live with the Void as those who know there is nothing to it; as those who know it is not the ultimate reality that it pretends to be. It is to live as those who know that beyond the Void, at the heart of the Void, there is sacred presence, and goodness, and life.

It is to live in the world of physical reality as those who understand there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain—and as those who do not say that because of the ease with which that is misunderstood as discounting the reality of pain, suffering, loss and sorrow, which are very real in the Physical Realm and not to be denied. But, they are also not to be feared by those who know there is nothing to the Void, because the ultimate truth is the presence of the Source of Life and Being, where we find what we need to do what needs us to do it, moment-by-moment-by moment.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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