Empty yourself of all fears. Empty yourself of all worries. Empty yourself of all your burdens.

Empty yourself of all anger. Empty yourself of all hate. Empty yourself of all bitterness.

Empty yourself of all the negativity that you are holding inside you and be at peace.

Empty yourself of all pride. Empty yourself of all arrogance. Empty yourself of all ambitions. Empty yourself of all plans and schemes.

Empty yourself of all desires. Empty yourself of passions. Empty yourself of all emotions and let the pure love of God fill your heart.

Empty yourself of all knowledge. Empty yourself of all ideas. Empty yourself of all learning. Empty yourself of all thoughts and be ready to receive.

The story is told that a young man who was proud of his scholastic knowledge went to see the famous Zen Master Nanin Roshi.

“When he was led into the Master’s room and had taken his seat, the young man was, as is customary, served tea by an attendant.

Nanin instructed the monk, ‘Why don’t you pour more tea into the cup?’

The attendant monk did as instructed, and when he was about to stop pouring, the Master insisted, ‘More, more!’

The cup was now full to the brim and the monk could pour no more tea into it. The master, however, still sternly demanded, ‘More, more!’

The young guest could not remain silent, and spoke out, ‘It overflows, Master!’ The Master then quietly said to him, ‘When one wants to learn anything from others, he has to first empty himself; otherwise there is no room for the teaching to enter. You had better go home now’” [1]

We need to remove all the preconceived notions that we have if we truly want to know God. God is infinite, how can the finite ever comprehend the infinite? We can only know him by letting go of everything that is finite in us. What is left will be a boundless vessel that is ready for the infinite to be poured into it.

If we are filled with our own thoughts, plans and desires, then there is no place for God to dwell in us. If we empty out our little self, then we make room for our true Self. When we remove our ego, we create the “space” for God to enter in.

 

“Grace is flowing like the ocean, ever full. Everyone draws from it according to his capacity. – Sri Ramana Maharshi [2]

If we give up our limited knowledge, then we can receive from the place of infinite or all-knowledge. If we empty our mind, then we can be filled with wisdom from the Universal Mind.

Sri Ramakrishna used the following analogy to explain this idea to his devotees:

“There are grain-dealers at Kamarpukur. When selling paddy, one man weighs the grain on the scales and another man pushes it to him from a heap. It is the duty of the second man to keep a constant supply of grain on the scales by pushing it from the big heap.

“It is the same with my words. No sooner are they about to run short than the Divine Mother sends a new supply from Her inexhaustible storehouse of Knowledge.” [3]

There is a place beyond words and thoughts and deeds. This place is total emptiness, yet there is nothing fuller in the whole of the universe.

This emptiness vibrates with life. This emptiness is full of peace. This emptiness overflows with endless bliss.

There is nothing else in this place but God – nothing to think about, nothing to feel, nothing to hear, nothing to see. There is nothing but eternal Life.

In this place, there is no fear, there is no anger, and there is no hate. In this place there is only infinite love, infinite compassion, and infinite peace.

All that is limiting and binding does not exist in this place of Divine emptiness. There is nothing that can be desired or boxed-in or possessed. All is endless expansion and emanation and pouring forth. All is light and illumination and joy.

There are no walls, there are no barriers, and there are no veils. There is neither up nor down, neither top nor bottom, neither left nor right. There is no right and wrong, or good and bad, or friend and foe. There is only unity, and oneness and the undivided ‘I’ of God.

A disciple of the Maggid of Mezeritch was returning from his teacher to his home. On his way, he decided to visit his fellow Hasid and disciple, Rebbe Aaron of Karlin. When he got to Karlin it was past midnight, but his desire to see his friend was so intense that he went straight to his house and knocked at the lit window.

A familiar voice asked: who is it?’ Thinking that Rebbe Aaron would recognize his voice, he answered nothing but the word ‘I’. To his surprise, the window remained closed, and no other sound came from within though he knocked again and again.

At last he cried out in distress: “Aaron, why don’t you open for me?”

Finally his friend gravely replied:

“Who is it that dares call himself ‘I’ as befits only God Himself”! [4]

The only real ‘I’ is God and everything that exists is part of that I. It is the ‘I’ of Anochi in the first of the Ten Commandments:

“I (Anochi) am the Lord your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” – Exodus 20:2

Knowing this ‘I’ will free us from bondage.

This is also why the second commandment states:

“You shall not make for yourself any carven idol, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:4

The ‘I’ of God cannot be described, for it is the ‘I’ of pure consciousness. Only by emptying ourselves of every image that we can conceive of will we comprehend this infinite ‘I’.

Moses asked God His Name: God answered “I am that I am”: pure Being. God’s answer can also be translated as: “I will be what I will be.” The true Name of God – His ‘I’ – can never be grasped. The moment that we think that we have grabbed hold of it, it is out of our reach. It is only by constantly saying “it’s not this, it’s not this” (neti, neti!) that we can approach it. When we have stopped trying to name or define God, then we will know Who God is. Then we will reach the fullness of the Divine Emptiness and know that there is nothing else that exists.

 

The Torah declares:

“Know this day and take unto your heart that the Lord is God; in the heavens above and upon the earth below, there is nothing else.”

Deuteronomy 4:39

The Hasidic Master, Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, taught that this Biblical verse comes to teach us that there is no other reality in the universe but God: all that we see around us with our physical eyes is an illusion, it does not really exist – that which we can see with our inner eye (the mind’s eye) is the only true reality.

Therefore, let us strive with all of our heart, mind and soul to empty ourselves of all the things of the little ‘I’, so that we can be filled with the lofty ‘I’ of Anochi – the infinite and eternal ‘I’ of God.

 

Copyright © 2007, by Yoel Glick


Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Abbot Zenkei Shibayama, A Flower does not Talk
  2. David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part II
  3. ‘M’, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, as translated by Swami Nikhilananda
  4. Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim, Book I