Entering the Emptiness

“Entering the Emptiness” is one of the chapters in a book entitled The Awakened Heart, written by Gerald May (June 12, 1940- April 12, 2005).  As a notable psychiatrist, Gerald May wrote some good things to ponder.  Instead of searching for quotes from others who have reviewed The Awakened Heart,  I am going out on a limb and simply express some of my thinking. 


 The first book I read by Gerald May was a book on addictions, entitled Addiction and Grace. I’ve worked with, walked with, many folks struggling with addictions.  Because of that I had read a number of books and articles about addictions prior to reading Addiction and Grace.  I was intrigued by (at least) two observations while reading Addiction and Grace: Gerald May’s use of spirituality, and his use of the word “attachments”.  I then came across The Awakened Heart, and was blessed by his insight on spirituality, being still, and getting space: ” … we need space to allow the compulsions to ease and the bonds to loosen…”  These words are from “Entering the Emptiness”, the chapter I am writing about from The Awakened Heart.  These words (this quote) were also used in a blog in 2006, by a writer named Sharon Richards.

http://shashwrites.com/2006/09/16/entering-the-emptiness    I was unexplainably intrigued that someone else had blogged on the same book, same chapter, in 2006, that I was writing about today, seven years later. Here is an excerpt from Sharon Richards’ blog:

“Now I”m not exactly sure what to ‘do’ with this as it strikes and touches my heart. Some of it is my constant inner struggle of somehow feeling that I’m not ‘doing’ enough. I’m  ready to ditch that belief. God, help me to enter into emptiness, be willing to be in spaciousness and love myself and see myself as you see me.”


“Entering the emptiness” shows me my own urgency to fill in the space that is uncomfortable, like hunger.  I want to be satisfied, filled up, not lacking. And yet there is some degree of emptiness in the trappings and the strappings of this world, the space that I desperately fill up to stave off anxiety, fear, insecurity.  To address this subtle, under-the-radar, emptiness, Gerald May writes about moving into another emptiness: one that is paradoxically not empty; an emptiness that is similar to the desert.  The “desert”: where the Desert Fathers spent time; as did the Desert Mothers; as did mystics; as did Jesus; and Moses.  The “desert” is not a place where many folks are in a hurry to go to.  But … in the desert one finds space, and a potential stillness, and an opportunity to experience some transcendent change.  (Image above, www.cap.org.za)


2 thoughts on “Entering the Emptiness

  1. Oh man, what an EXCELLENT post! I have family members dealing with addiction, but even more, the concept of a spiritual place being an emptiness or desert of self, that allows God to flow into so speaks to me and my religion that I have to read this soon! Thank you!

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