I was recently "unfriended " by someone who couldn't stop arguing over "nothingness ". It is astonishing how far some in the spiritual community will argue over "nothing ". This seems to be caused by a fear of becoming involved with life itself. "Nothingness " becomes a safe place to hide.
How does this come about ? The concept of "Neti, Neti ", not this, not this, is a beginning. The mind, not being able to land on anything solid after settling in the "I am ", starts thinking in negative terms. It tells us that the only way to describe "what is ", in thought and word, is in describing what it is not. This leaves a blank, a hole in thought that becomes described as nothingness.
Again, meditation, looked at as mental activity rather than an emptying, leads to negative thought. When one works at meditation, and achieves "success ", it is referred to as "stillness", "silence", "nothingness ". The "self ", the "world " all vanish into this silent stillness. The mind "stabilizes " in this silent stillness, and believes itself to be "aware", or "awakened ". This is a point where many stop the "search ". In this "state ", which is completely in the mind, the mind enjoys a "stillness " and "silence " that it creates out of it's view of those thoughts and words.
I was lucky to be introduced to contemplation before I ever got too far into meditation. In contemplation, the emphasis is on emptying. All words, thoughts and activity are rejected. Not to enter into some negative state, but to allow for an "infilling ". In contemplation, one is, in Christian terms, "waiting on the Lord " You are offering everything to the "unknown " in contemplation. You are not "seeking ". You are not imagining anything will "happen ". You are simply saying "Here I am, take me." You are giving up your life for the unknown. This takes incredible courage, and demands an incredible "call ".
While "everyone " eventually hears, and follows this "call ", most spiritual "seekers " remain in the imagined "silent stillness ". When someone, like the one who "unfriended " me, argues for this "silent stillness ", you know that they are "stuck " there, and no amount of reaching out in the dream will reach them, as they think they have "made it ". They take the "nothingness ", presented to and by the mind, as "enlightenment ".
Nisargadatta Maharaj, said that he saw he was nothing, and that was "wisdom ". Of course, that is "wisdom ", this "nothingness " we see is the end of the minds usefulness. "I am nothing", this is the minds "wisdom ". But this is only the start. Nisargadatta also said that when he saw he was "everything ", this was Love. This, seeing that we are "everything ", is what takes one beyond the mind. When the empty heart is "filled " with Love, there is no "vision ", no thought, no "words ". It just is.
Giving up the "search "; emptying out the mind of thoughts of "still silence ", as conceived by the mind, even giving up the thought of "Love " itself for the reality beyond words and mind is what is required. But fear of actually letting go is what keeps most "stuck" in the apparent, comfortable "still silence ". If you suggest, as life itself does, that there is more than this background of "still silence ", this Neti, Neti, this incomplete "enlightenment " that is seen by these fearful "seekers ", they will reject you, unfriend you, and say that you are the one who is "deluded ". They will only accept a total rejection of "everything " as their "reality ".
To be Love, this seeing oneself as "everything ", opens the world, others and yourself to what is. Not some negative "screen " upon which the "illusions " appear, but seeing the "illusions " themselves as part and parcel of the "screen ". Sure, you can say that the "illusions " are all in the "mind ". But the "mind " is also both an "illusion " and itself part and parcel of the "screen ". Non-duality can not admit an "illusion ", and a separate "screen ", and still remain "non-dual ". There is both "movement " and "stillness ". One can't be separated from the other, or one held to be "higher " or more perfect or "real " than the other.
It is time to call "seekers ", especially those who have had the incomplete "awakening " to "nothingness ", or "silent stillness ", back into life. Just as the Christ is described as being both "fully human" and fully "divine", Life is both illusory and real. We can not separate "temporary " from "eternal ", and remain outside of time; the great "illusion ". We have to dive deeply into paradox, and dare to "live" there. Not taking positions, choosing "real " (eternal), over "illusion " (temporary), but accepting all that is, as it unfolds in Love.