What is emptiness for the soul

Emptiness is not nothing. It is the possibility to contain something. It harbors and exposes.

How you respond to emptiness depends on what you think you are. If you believe yourself to be something, you will fear emptiness. If one is not afraid, emptiness will be fullness.
Emptiness frightens anyone who thinks they are content. People want to be content because they believe that content is protected by what it contains.

The less you know what you are, the more you say: I am this or that and nothing else. The more you determine what you want to see yourself as, the more you will fear what the determination calls into question.
Mind is emptiness. As soon as he confuses himself with something, he shies away from himself.

I am myself when I neither believe that I am something specific, nor that I should become something.


1. Emptiness or Nothing

The background of everything is emptiness. At the same time it is a spiritual experience. Emptiness is experienced differently. One shrinks from it, the other feels it as a release from every fear. The quality of the experience is of considerable importance for both mental health and spiritual experience.

Emptiness is neither a something nor a nothing. Nothing is an intellectual speculation. A few reflections make it clear that nothing can only exist as intellectual speculation. Nothing presupposes an intellect that imagines it.

  • There cannot be nothing because then there would be something.
  • Since we can speculate about the existence of nothing, there is obviously not nothing. Speculation about the existence of nothing is something: speculation.
  • Even if reality were just an illusion, there would be no nothing, but an illusion that appears as reality.


Nothing (Latin nihil) is about to emerge nihilism on. It is not usually used to denote a philosophical concept that assumes that there is actually nothing. Even the nihilist believes that there is something. However, he believes that there is no meaning in all that exists, so that all human activity is ultimately meaningless and all value is basically an illusion. In fact, the nihilist also presupposes meaning. Anyone who denies meaning in reality assumes that it makes sense to deny it.

Nihilism can be understood as defiance. The nihilist denies the meaning of reality because he feels trapped in it. By denying its worth, he tries to free himself from it. But you can't of of reality, but only to Reality. Meaning is the realization of freedom.

Pure emptiness is the absence of something. Something is something that is shaped, recognizable as a form and distinguishable from other forms. Shapes are perceived against different backgrounds:

  • Objects appear in space.
  • Noises emerge from the silence.
  • Thoughts, impulses and feelings fill the consciousness.

Space, silence and awareness are three fields of appearance of emptiness. Forms emerge from them and dissolve into them. Behind everything there is at the same time the emptiness it contains. Content does not remove emptiness, it only fills it. A key spiritual experience is to become aware of the void without content. Contents can be differentiated. If emptiness is no longer covered by content, a distinction is no longer made. The experiencing experiences that it is undivided from the experienced.

2. Experience

Just as emptiness is the one background against which different forms can be recognized, so forms form foregrounds behind which one emptiness lies. Since emptiness is formless, it is limitless. Since it has no limit, it extends into and through all forms. The personal experience of reality is decisively influenced by how one reacts to the experience of the void. Most people fear the void. Only a few meet her calmly. Even less looking for it.

2.1. Basic psychological conflict

Maturity and concretism

The more insecure a person is of himself, the more compelling he feels the need to find security in an established belonging. The fear of emptiness is expressed through concrete (Latin: concrescere = grow together) Identifications bound. Your own corporeality, interpersonal relationships and group affiliations are specific. But immovable values ​​and worldviews are also concrete.

It is only with increasing maturity that one becomes able to break away from the adhesions that are castle and cage in one. Only then will one no longer flee from the void; but celebrate them as liberators from being lost in the world of random forms. Emptiness shows the form that it belongs not only to other parts, but to the unity.

When I firmly believe that I know how things are, my faith numbs the doubt. Often people prefer to be trapped in what promises security than free in uncertainty.

Whether one reacts to emptiness with fear or with serenity depends on two things:

  1. of what you think you are.
  2. of what you stick to.

The what for and the what are two anchors that define your self-image.

The For what establishes the primary identification. What for are parts of reality that you localize within your own being and contrast with parts outside of the being.

  • I am a thinking body.
  • I'm German.
  • I'm a man.
  • I'm Emil Schützenkamp from Wanne-Eickel.

The Of what establishes the secondary or supportive identification. What are judgments that are believed to be correct.

  • I believe that children should not be spoiled.
  • I consider this or that belief to be right.
  • Man should be honest.

Criteria on which the self-image is anchored convey a feeling of security. You know what you are and where you belong. Establishing one's own identity plays an important role in regulating the conflict of belonging and self-determination.

Fixing means sticking to certain forms. This form - and not another - is assigned a special meaning. Since emptiness is formless and thus exceeds the existence of any form, it is feared all the more the more one attaches the image of one's own being to forms.

The need to belong and the experience of emptiness

Belonging gives a sense of security. The need for it is deeply rooted in the psyche. That is understandable. Man is born helpless. A child cannot survive without a protective person.

The need to bond with a mother shifts to different objects in the course of life: teddy bears, friends, partners, possessions, wealth, positions, opinions, memberships, beliefs, rules, fame, experiences, expectations, plans, projects, Tasks, goals, values, self-images. We cling to everything that promises us security.

Gestalt psychology

The spirit is uneasy about the formlessness of the spiritual. Hence the psyche has the urge to develop, accept, fill in and complete forms. Instead of the form, psychology also speaks of the shape. Out of fear of emptiness, the psyche favors structures that do not serve any cause, but rather express how much it fears freedom.

German being

German politics has a reputation for producing more rules than those of other countries, in whose ramifications even escape artists with multiple navigation devices can inescapably get entangled. That is also an expression of the German fear. She does not want to leave the emptiness any leeway in which terrifying freedoms could develop.

You can tell how much you cling to expectations when things turn out differently than you expected. Instead of letting go and going with the flow of life, some defend their expectations like a wild animal.

Emptiness is the absence of something to belong to. Because he is afraid of getting lost in it, man shrinks from it. But whoever realizes that he himself is the void, will find the highest security in it.

2.2. Symptoms

Emptiness is the background of every shaped reality. Therefore you experience them at every turn. It can be experienced both indirectly, i.e. through sensory perception, and directly as a free space of consciousness. You can find it when you look outside as well as when you look inside. We encounter it as space, heaven, silence, loneliness or boredom.

The more persistently we look for the form that we are beyond mere physicality, the more fleeting the contents of consciousness appear to us. Thoughts appear and disappear. Feelings and moods sway like grass in the wind. Certain impulses seem compelling to us today. Tomorrow the same impulses will be meaningless. When we ask about our being, the reference to thoughts, feelings and impulses is not an answer, since nothing that only appears can be essential. If you don't let the fleeting stop you when you look inward, you arrive at a void that can contain everything, but is none of it.

A person's level of maturity with regard to the underlying psychological conflict determines their reaction to the experience of emptiness. Many of these reactions flow into behavioral symptoms, which psychiatry describes as signs of mental illness. The common denominator of these symptoms is their function: to avoid the experience of emptiness.

Happiness and unhappiness depend on whether you fear or value emptiness. Abundance makes the body, emptiness makes the soul full.

Defense mechanisms against the experience of emptiness

Small escapes ...

  • Marvin can't stand silence. He surrounds himself with a background noise. As soon as he gets into the car, the radio has to be on.
  • When the door slams shut and he is alone at home, Andreas becomes uncomfortable. Soon he will socialize or he will fill the void with alcohol.
  • Hildegard is actually no longer hungry. She has just eaten hard. And yet she decides to pour the contents of the refrigerator into her stomach.
  • Birgit's cupboards are overburden. There is decorative stuff on every ledge. And again she comes back from town with shopping bags.
  • If nothing happens, Kevin picks up the remote control. The next action film also barely drives away his boredom.
  • The older he gets, the more Heinrich is reluctant to throw something away. It could be used again later.
  • When Michael has started a book, he thinks he must finish reading it; even if he has lost interest in the content from page 28 onwards.
  • Marlies cannot leave the house until she has put everything in order.

... and severe suffering

  • Margot is overcome with panic just when she tries to get on a plane. Terrible: To have no more solid ground under your feet.
  • When Hendrik enters the balcony, he clings to the railing. He is afraid of the impulse to jump into freedom.
  • When Bärbel is not moody or enthusiastic about something, she feels an emptiness that puts her in constant fear. So that something tangible happens, she cuts her arms open.
  • Since Christoph can no longer believe in what he thought he was, he has felt like nothing. The doctor certifies that he has severe depression; so that he has a definition of his condition to adhere to.

2.2.1. Bustle

A common pattern of defense against the experience of emptiness is constant busyness. By always doing something, having something to do, being busy with goals and projects, you focus your attention on a series of different forms. By being busy, one assigns a special meaning to any form: to relate to oneself. The changing forms have one thing in common. The importance that is attached to them today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Instead of allowing the form to decline into emptiness and thus the return from the conditioned to the absolute, one always slips into new clothes out of fear of childbirth.

Motives for busyness

  • collect
    • Objects of all kinds, pieces of music, computer programs, pictures, experiences, acquaintances, chat contacts
  • also want to have
  • keep yourself up to date
  • improve something in the apartment
  • keep an eye out for bargains
  • Hectic fever

    This is what was previously called a symptom of consumption. Today one has the impression that public life is ravaged by a hectic fever. It is teeming with unfinished building sites, half-baked reform projects, useless administrative regulations and tireless efforts to grow. Isn't there a lack of real content behind all of this that centers life in one sense?

  • be there everywhere
  • cannot sit still
  • check something again
  • be on the way to experience something

Busyness is a mask of fear. Just don't be exposed in the void! Better to pour yourself into the next form in which you can find cover for a while! Those who let themselves be driven by hustle and bustle into ever new ports where they are not at home cannot learn to be free.

The great happiness lies in the emptiness, the short in its content.
2.2.2. Weariness

The more things a person is able to produce, the more the escape from emptiness leads to abundance. The faster it is possible to meet emerging needs, the shorter their fulfillment will satisfy a fundamental discomfort that cannot be eliminated by constantly growing prosperity. The discomfort is the result of a misunderstanding.

The self is space, the person is its content. The more one-sided you think of the content, the more obsessed you are with the idea that happiness lies in increasing content and filling spaces. Instead of always getting full with new content, overabundance leads to weariness. Not that content is meaningless and that it cannot be enjoyed. The joy of content can only be experienced, however, if the content does not take over and it can be recognized from the void. So it happens that apples that are eaten every day are harder to enjoy than a single one that is difficult to get hold of.

A large part of the dissatisfaction that drives modern man to demand more and more content from life is the weariness of the very abundance it produces as an unsuitable cure for any dissatisfaction. In the process of Weariness is the Indo-European root treu-d = squeeze, push, press. The much that is supposed to remove discomfort removes instead the space in which the lightness of happiness would be felt. Happiness can only appear if you don't clutter the space in which it could appear.

3. Images of God

Emptiness is formless, timeless, indestructible. Many spiritual traditions regard them as the inexhaustible source of all forms and appearances in the world. Since it is formless, one can hardly argue about its nature. Traditions that see emptiness as the source of reality rarely clash. Those who assign forms to the primordial ground do it all the time.

One can speak of emptiness as experience without facing the experience. The word empty is not the same as the void that is unavailable. The word is something that can be handled. Void as God to look at is a contradiction. But you can forego doing something else.

The lack of interest in religious topics needs just as little to be punished in the hereafter as the mockery of religious ideas, which some call godless referred to as. Even in this world, religious disinterest has unpleasant consequences. The disinterested leads a life that lacks something: the belief in or the knowledge of an absolute that makes the meaning of this worldly suffering appear small next to something big.

An I is that within which there is everything that makes it up. Only what goes beyond the limits of the person can be their self.

In reality I am emptiness.
In possibility I am abundance.

Those who consider emptiness fundamental are in the minority. Most of them do not turn to emptiness, but rather to images, which they instead declare to be gods. The need for security leads them to think of the sacred as a powerful person who promises protection, has expectations, promises rewards and threatens punishment. Such images are concrete. They correspond to the fact of seeing oneself as something and the need to secure the existence of this something at any price.

Belief in a God Person is not just a search for the absolute. It is also an escape from it. Because the ego threatens to lose itself in infinity, it clings to the comprehensible idea of ​​a powerful likeness and declares the imperturbability to do just that to be the guarantee of its survival.In reality, everything that has certain properties - including an image of God - is only something that comes and goes like every other something. It is not a real anchor.

Shaped images of God miss the essence of the unconditioned, because every form is a condition which the shaped thing has to fulfill in order to be what it is. Anyone who believes that a person of God stands across from man and demands this or that from him has misunderstood the unconditional. He assigned it objective properties and thus reduced it to the rank of a mere appearance. Even if one explicitly regards the absolute as subjectivity, one goes astray as soon as one describes it as a subject confronted by other subjects.


The term Empty (Sanskrit शून्यता = ⇗Shunyata) is of central importance in Buddhist religious practice. Shunyata refers to the view that none of the composite phenomena of reality has an independent, i.e. separate self. Since the person is also an appearance that consists of components, as far as an I is concerned, it is actually empty.

The term I refers to a pattern of certain properties that make it distinguishable. Properties are objective criteria. Since the absolute can hardly be conceived of as something with objective properties, the concept is the Empty better than that of the I suitable to refer to that original ground of reality on which the person is based. The self can only be understood as an I that does not exclude the you from itself.

4. Indications

Emptiness is formless, timeless, indestructible. It is inexhaustible possibility. The flight from the void is a source of emotional suffering that condenses into mental illness in countless numbers.

While the flight from emptiness makes you sick, turning towards it enables normal psychological well-being to be transformed into mental health. Mental health goes far beyond psychological normality. While normality is an RPG in which one has more or less success, mental health opens access to the full potential of life. The turning to the void can take place in two stages: through perception and Des-identification.

The self cannot identify with the void; because it is already emptiness itself. Identification means equalization (Latin: idem = equal and facere = to make). What is identical cannot be made the same. Rather, the self finds itself when it detaches itself from those identifications in which it has lost itself in the search for security.
  • Perceive the emptiness that you encounter in everyday life. If nothing can be heard, pay attention to the silence. Watch as sounds emerge and disappear from the silence. Notice that the silence is unchanged after each sound.

  • Notice the space that lies between things. Remove unnecessary items. Assign space to things that allows them to appear uncovered.

  • Pay attention to whether there are any impulses in being alone to hastily search for attachment. Perceive such impulses without immediately following them.

  • As you walk, perceive not just the destination you are heading for, but the space you are walking through.

  • Perceive boredom without chasing for distraction. Boredom is a lack of self-centering with no effective distraction available.

  • Pay more attention to shapes in everyday life. Take a close look at the structures of the world: stones, tree bark, leaves, your body, any objects, faces, fabrics, clouds ... If you give the form the attention it deserves, you will feel the emptiness, the essence of all forms matters. As form decays, emptiness remains.

  • Be aware of your thoughts and feelings. Do not just think, but perceive the thoughts as objects. Watch thoughts come and go. Realize that what she perceives is always the same. Feel the emptiness that makes every event possible without being determined by it. Emptiness is free from what it fills.