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A case for emptiness

July 9, 2017

It probably doesn't come as a surprise that I dislike being in a state of sadness, but I'm not very fond of being in a state of happiness either.

What do I mean by state? Something that lasts longer that a fleeting thought, that occupies your mind, that is with you for hours.

Imagine trying to read a book. If you're in a state of sadness, it might very hard to progress without dark thoughts popping in, disturbing you. This is probably the least surprising part of all this.

Imagine being in a state of happiness. You just can't clear that happy feeling, a feeling which is connected to something that has happened in your life. Maybe an event occurred, an event that aligned with some deeply rooted expectations. This made you very happy, and the feeling has conquered your whole being. Try reading a book in this state. It might be just as hard as in the sad state! You want to pace around, giggle, tell your friends about the happy thing, etc. You can't get anything done. Happiness is just another distraction, often created by the chance event that the coin toss that is life aligned with your expectations. The times when it doesn't align, you end up in sadness instead.

So, expectations cause happiness and sadness and I find that both are just a disturbance. So I grip the problem by the root and do away with expectations. When that is done, what state should I strive for? I strive for emptiness.

But what do I refer to by emptiness?

I do not refer to the feeling people have when they say "I feel empty inside". I think that what people actually mean when they say that they "feel empty inside" is that their mind is so saturated by impressions that they feel exhausted. This bad feeling can come to me when I have too much to do, or when a terrible social gathering has taken all the juice out of me. Often when people "feel empty inside", they try to push themselves, thinking they should be able to do something productive because they have an internal "emptiness". They try to fill it! But I think that people, whenever they feel like this, are actually completely saturated with impressions and should probably lie down on a couch and have tea for the rest of the day.

Now, what I do refer to by emptiness is the feeling of neither happiness or sadness. It's a completely empty head, like a blank canvas. There are very few thoughts randomly attacking your mind. You are at peace. Try reading a book in this state. It'll be like disappearing into the text. As long as there are no linguistic or logical hiccups in whatever you're reading, it will be like intuitive understanding of someone else's thoughts, put onto a piece of paper.

While I prefer happiness over sadness, I put emptiness on a pedestal high above both.

Note that the above is true for most activities in my life. I am after all a book-consuming student. An empty mind vastly improves almost everything I do. Now, there are of course exceptions. Sometimes euphoria is a very wanted thing, sometimes even sadness is sought, but the activities connected to those states are probably exceptions to my daily habits. The things I do every day is what I find interesting in life, and none of that improves by going into them with a mind bothered by other thoughts, be they happy, sad or of some other nature.