Law of Emptiness | Oct 2001

FMBR Editorial: Oct, 2001

Law of Emptiness

Dean Brown

Laws are the unchanging organizing principles of the universe. The greatest law of all is the Law of Emptiness. Empires, galaxies, love affairs, languages, people come and go, leaving behind not a trace -- an emptiness. There is a lot of comfort in this -- whatever we mess up, is erased and forgotten. In the long run nobody knows or cares. Time heals, then forgives and finally forgets, forgets all. Time gently eases away all pain and joy.

Every night we go to sleep, we dream a little, and wake up to a new day, fresh and renewed. Earth returns to death and renewal on the winter solstice. Lifetimes cycle through realms of rebirth. Meditation returns us to the source of rejuvenation and creativity. Meditating is like washing a blackboard: do not continue writing over the old stale stuff, over and over. Clear the board. Make it new and fresh, a tabula rasa, "zen mind, beginner's mind." Lives are permanently altered in periods of silence, moments of letting, listening in awe and reverence to the universe. Religions are born in the desert where there are no distractions where one can listen to the "emptiness."

Robert Frost has a line, "Home is the place where they have to take you in." Well, home is your inner quiet center. It is the source of strength, of joy, of health, of creativity, of wisdom, of self-knowledge. It is the place where we are face to face with the immanent, the greatest experience of life. The ancient Hebrews had a word for it "t'shuvah", meaning the moment that you raise the thought of returning home. From that moment everything is different, better! This quiet center is the place of infinite potential. Our modern word "power" comes from the concept of potential. Here in the "emptiness" is the place where we can achieve "effortless effort", "actionless action" and "purposeless purpose" protected and carried along like a trusting baby asleep in the lap of its mother.

"Emptiness" is where we encounter the domain of eternal form. This is a Vedic concept, from which is derived Plato's field of ideals, Jung's archetypes, and DeChardin's noosphere. Timeless forms of aesthetics, ethics, logic, mathematics, and humanity reside here. This empty place is called in the Sanskrit wisdom texts Nirvana and Sunyata. But this empty place is not so quiet after all. Quantum mechanics shows that every point in the vacuum possesses an infinite amount of energy, unmanifest, unformed energy. This universe that we live in exploded out of it, and will again, and has done so many times. Our world is in a restless flux of ever-changing forms and polarities, recognized by Jung in his concept of enantiodromia, the tendency of things to abruptly reverse themselves.

The pinnacle of Vedic thought is the idea that your innermost self (Atman, ever more subtle, ever contracting) is identical to the entire universe (Brahman, ever expanding, cosmic). We are one, one with everything. To approach the universe, understand it, play with it -- produce effects through your pure center. Life becomes active and joyful. Just be centered, then you become nothing/everything -- you are in the "emptiness."

Erwin Schrodinger, the inventor of quantum mechanics, thought that this equating of Atman and Brahman to be "the grandest of all thoughts." It influenced his deepest thinking in his development of quantum mechanics. Even more so, it influenced his later work expressed in his book What is Life? -- which eventually lead to the discovery of DNA by Crick and Watson and to their Nobel prize.

Dr. Dean Brown, quantum physicist, Oct 2001