Not Knowing, Non-Being, and the Power of Nothingness, By Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, with Hilary Hart

PARABOLAThe Search For Meaning, July 15, 2015

Exploring the “hidden face of God”

Desert and void. The Uncreated is waste and emptiness to the creature. Not even sand. Not even stone. Not even darkness and night. A burning wilderness would at least be “something.” It burns and is wild. But the Uncreated is no something. Waste. Emptiness. Total poverty of the Creator; yet from this poverty springs everything.

Thomas Merton

Almost everything that has been written about spiritual life in the West is about what happens from the plane of pure being down into the planes of manifestation. Awakening to the peace and wholeness of the Higher Self, mindfulness, selfless service, or working with the archetypes and the energies of the Earth—all take place in the realms of existence.

But there is another esoteric science, a very different set of spiritual teachings that have to do with the hidden face of God, the invisible substance of the Absolute that is both here and not here. Because just as the Absolute is, the Absolute is not.

Mystical intelligence that touches into the void becomes an open window into the vast emptiness of the Absolute, has an important role to play in how the Absolute creates, transforms, and destroys its world. But there is no spiritual knowledge on the plane of non-being. There is not-knowing. One can’t explain how to work with nothingness, because it’s not a “how to.” How can you “do” something with nothing? How can you even find what does not exist?

But it is important to know that the nothingness is real. It is a very powerful dimension because the energy of the Absolute has not been dispersed yet; it hasn’t been scattered into fragments, refracted into form.

Consider how sunlight functions. Sunlight streams through the darkness of space where it is invisible. As soon as it hits the plane of manifestation the light refracts into the brilliance of form and color. It is only after light is reflected that it becomes visible, but at that same moment of reflection some quality of the light is lost. If one looks at the leaves of a tree, one is seeing the sunlight reflected from a beautiful form, but the sunlight itself has become diminished. It is no longer as pure—a quality of its essential nature is no longer present.

It is the same with energies of Absolute Truth. Once energy comes into the plane of manifestation it is not only dispersed but it is harder to work with. It is much denser. It moves more slowly. It has already become defined. Even a thought-form already belongs to the plane of manifestation. While our thoughts are easier to change than a building, it is still more difficult than working with energy before it has become constricted by form.

In nothingness, there is tremendous freedom because there are no restrictions—who or what is there to create any restriction?

Life needs human beings whose consciousness can work within the nothingness. Particularly, it needs the love and power that is there. Within the void is love in its completeness—love that is undifferentiated, unlimited, and very, very pure. Love is the substance of the universe, the substance of life. Love is the greatest power in creation. The energy of love spins the atoms, spins the world, spins the galaxies.

In the void, love starts to sing, and it sings its own song rather than the song you want it to sing. If you can let love do what it wants to do then it can take you somewhere else entirely, into the beyond of the beyond, into life’s deepest mystical mystery. Here, at the source of the Source is love’s deepest truth, which is also our truth.

It is the same with power. In the void, power has not yet been diminished by the structures of creation or the dynamics of human beings. There are no hierarchies or power dynamics, no abuse or misuse. Pure power has the potential to create, transform, and destroy anything and everything—in an instant… [+]

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi mystic and lineage holder in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order. He is the founder of The Golden Sufi Center and the author of several books including “Spiritual Ecology” and “Darkening of the Light.” For more information, please visit

Hilary Hart is a teacher and author (Body of Wisdom: Women’s Spiritual Power and How It Serves, 2013);