The Nothing at the Heart of Everything

I’m at that wonderfully strange stage of releasing a new book where I send it out to people the world and I admire and ask them to read it with an eye towards offering up a nice quote if they like what they’ve read. Here’s an excerpt from what Gay Hendricks, co-author with his wife Kathlyn of Conscious Loving Ever After  had to say:

“This is an absolutely brilliant book about one of the most important subjects of all: the nothing at the heart of everything.  It’s the first book I know of that explores in practical, useful detail the space within – the vast context of pure consciousness in which our experience occurs.”

I love this description, and it reminded me of an insight I had while running a workshop for coaches and leaders back in 2014 called Coaching from the Inside-Out.  As we do in all our programs, we spent our time exploring the human potential and the nature of personal reality, getting pretty honest with each other about both our humanity and divinity – what it is to be spiritual beings having a human experience and how that understanding impacts our work, health, relationships, and the way we live our lives.

It was during this particular workshop that I realized that at it’s heart, the transformative conversation is always about “nothing” – the field of pure possibility and infinite creative potential (literally “no thing”) out of which every thing (“everything”) is created.

While sometimes hanging out and talking about nothing can seem a little scary,on the whole the space that we open up to quickly fills with love, deep connection, and surprisingly often wisdom in the moment and inspiration for the future.

Contrast this with the busy-ness of our day to day lives, where in order to escape the emptiness we fear we’ll feel if the hamster wheel of our thinking ever stops spinning, we spend every “free” moment plugged in to a screen or a book or an activity designed to save us from the quiet and stillness we sense lurking just beneath the surface.

There is a scene in the sitcom “Friends” where Chandler entertains Phoebe”s psychotherapist boyfriend with a constant barrage of jokes and puns and stories.  At the end of the whirlwind, the psychotherapist looks at him and says “You’re a funny guy.  I’d hate to be there when the laughter stops.”

And this is in many ways our biggest fear.  That when the whirlwind of our lives stops swirling, we’ll be left with nothing.  And that if we ever really got past the nuttiness of our own circular thinking, the silence would drive us crazy.

But the very same “nothing” that we spend so much of our time avoiding is, as Gay pointed out, the foundation of everything.  And as Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao te Ching over 5000 years ago:

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

Everything comes from nothing – which means that if we want to create something truly new and fresh in our lives, we must first find our way back to the quiet beneath the notes, the page underneath the writing, and the space into which our thoughts appear and dissipate.

That space is closer than you think, and larger than our little brains (well, my little brain) can imagine.  You won’t find anything when you get there – that’s just the nature of nothing – but the whole world will sit patiently with you and await its creation with your very next thought.

This is truly the space where miracles happen – the place of love, of light, of truth, and of peace. And when you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.

With all my love,
Michael Signature