Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > nothingness and Life


Space for a bird to fly ~ nothing gives itself

Dec 4, 2019

The Presence of Absence

*Brian Wilcox. 'The Presence of Absence'.

When you look at a word,
you see space.
Space between letters.
Space between words.
Space above words.
Space below words.

When you speak, from where
arises the words?

We say something
means something.

Where is meaning?
From where would it arise and return?
Is it or not before it arises? After it leaves?

Words... words... words
Is the space first?
Are the words first?

* * *

Doris Grumbach, in her Fifty Days in Solitude, writes...

A Japaneses artist was commissioned by an American to do a painting. The completed work had, in a lower corner, the branch of a cherry tree with a few blossoms and a bird perched on it. The entire upper half was white. Unhappily, the American asked the artist to put something else in the painting because it looked, well, so bare. The Japanese refused the request. When pressed for an explanation, the artist said if he did fill up the painting, there would be no space for the bird to fly.

Grumbach walks over to view Donald Furst's painting Into White, which is on her wall. Into White, she writes, "is filled in the top seventh of the rectangular page with winter trees and distant snow-covered fields." The remainder, she observes, is free of any lines or colors, most of the work, then, being blank. This, allowing space ample for the snow upon the ground "to lie heavy and impenetrable."

So, Grumbach speaks of another lesson she has learned in the solitude: "To look hard at what I did not notice before and even harder at what is not there, at what Paul Valéry, the late French philosopher, essayist and poet, called 'the presence of absence'."

* * *

Recently, I read that contemplatives talk in a cadence where space separates, not words running onto words quickly, as though the one speaking is pushing words out the mouth, or words are chasing after words. This occurs from the transformation of the mind into a vehicle respecting how form arises from spaciousness, or nothingness. Also, it arises from the body slowing down, as contemplation leads from the sense of being in a hurry, or busyness, to calmer living and easeful movements. And the contemplative spirit is the appreciation of the value of being-with as priority, the communication of content is replaced with the communication of presence as of first importance.

* * *

All form arises from formlessness, all this-is-here from nothing-is-here. A tree cannot become without the environment of space that allows it to become and, so, be. The being of the tree, then, sharing in the being that allows the potential of the tree to be the tree.

* * *

Wisdom leads us back to that nothingness. We can capitalize that, "Nothingness," but we do not need to, for nothing can be said about nothing. Yet, this nothing surrounds and makes possible every something. This nothing is isness, and without isness, nothing is and it only is, no something able to come to fruition.

Silence is an act to lead us back toward that nothingness, to commune with that, to feel how it manifests in the body. Spiritual practice is, then, not replacing a something with something, as much as appreciating the nothing. When you enter the Quiet, there is nothing there to be found, nothing is already there. And the closer you are drawn into intimacy with this nothing, the more you discover not only how mysterious it is, but how powerful it is, and how loving and kind it is.

* * *

So, we find this paradox ~ "the presence of absence," not the absence of presence. Here, to say absence is to say presence, to say presence is to say absence.

Absence is not a less-than-something, but it is not a something. We must allow the feeling of this absence to be felt in and upon and around the body. We, later, feel the body as within this spaciousness. If we allow this to unfold, we find nothing is filled with Life, and a Life that surprises us in the subtle and overt ways It gives itself to us. We learn, then, over time, to live more and more relaxed into this nothing, trusting it so to live leaning into it. We feel, more and more, taken care of, but we cannot say why or how. And there is no way to this nothing, the way is arising from this nothing. Technique can only take you to the point at which, in frustration, you say, finally, "Yes."

If video does not play from this site, you can access it through artist-title in upper left...

*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > nothingness and Life

©Brian Wilcox 2020