For the next couple of weeks, the discussion is going to be about what David Richo calls “the void”. We have talked about pausing before we respond to triggers and feelings, creating space rather than filling it. We have talked about the evolution of the ego from pain to freedom. The void is what David Richo says we confront when our neurotic ego (all the parts of us that were formed in response to pain) and functional ego (healthy human parts) surrender to the Self (part of a bigger consciousness).
David Richo describes it as a spiritual crisis, a “spiritual stair that is not there” (p. 84). It is not there because it is the void. In that void, we are alone and facing emptiness. It is space where there is nothing that can soothe the discomfort that accompanies the process. It is when all that has worked before to bring you out of a dark place no longer works. It is not a depression, but feels like one; it seems like it will never end. While I can describe it to you and tell you what might be on the other side, this would not comfort you if you were in the process of what has also been called “the dark night of the soul” and “encircling doom” (p. 83).
In this process, there can be the sense of hopelessness because the old ways of feeling better don’t work. You are racking your brain to think about why you feel so bad and there is no clear reason. There can also be a great deal of shame, an emotion I personally find virtually unbearable. It is shameful because the ego is being dethroned and, for that to happen, we have to question everything about it so we can realize that it is a fraud that has caused a lot of drama and fear. From what I can tell the shame comes in that process of questioning and doubting what we think is our real self (which makes sense because we have only known ourselves as the ego until we confront the void).
This is such a rich topic and I know I will need to revise this and write more about it in future posts, but I want to leave it at this for now. I love the fact that there could be something occurring inside our experience as human beings that may be painful but does not mean there is something “wrong”. Just like when babies are teething, they are crying because it is painful (hard objects are breaking through flesh!), however, it doesn’t mean there is something “wrong” with them. It is not a “problem” that needs to be “solved”. It is not “bad”. It is simply a human process. Not fun, but what is on the other side is awesome and necessary for healthy development. Hey! I didn’t design the system, OK!? I’m just a part of it, observing it, and hopefully, helping people understand our nature so we can work with it more successfully rather than wasting our existence resisting it.
*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".