We all wish to be filled with wisdom, with peace, with compassion.
But what are we actually filled with most of the time? Our minds spill over with reruns from unwanted moments past, reliving of painful encounters with other people, fears of an uncertain future. Meaningless thoughts about meaningless events clog our consciousness, leaving virtually no room in our heart for what we profess matters most to us.
So that with all this self-filling… there’s virtually no space left within us for anything new to come in. As the New Testament tells us, “there’s no room at the inn.”
The great teachings throughout the ages tell us that we have to empty ourselves of worthless thoughts and self-pictures and imagined situations before the higher help — that’s waiting to join our consciousness — can enter into us. We don’t really have to “do” anything to gain wisdom. We just have to empty ourselves, and the wisdom will be there for us.
Here are some beautiful quotes from scriptures across time that share this transformational lesson with us…
Whoso bendeth himself shall be straightened. Whoso emptieth himself shall be filled. Whoso weareth himself away shall be renewed. Whoso humbleth himself shall be exalted. Whoso exalteth himself shall be abased. Therefore doth the Sage cling to simplicity.
— Tao Te Ching (650)
Go sweep out the chamber of your heart.
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved.
When you depart out,
He will enter it.
void of yourself,
will He display His beauties.
— Mahmud Shabistari (1250)
I know that for the right practice of it (The presence of the Lord) the heart must be empty of all other things, because God will possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so neither can he act there, and do in it what he pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him.
— Brother Lawrence (1611)
And it is in this darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close to us for us to identify is stripped away from our souls. It is in this darkness that we find liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure.
— Thomas Merton (1915)
Be surprised at nothing. Let peace and stillness flood through you and envelop you completely in its cloak. Put on the whole armour of love — and yet feel, feel very deeply. Let tears flow, washing away impurities until you feel clean within and clean without. Become like an empty vessel ready to be filled with life’s nectar.
— Eileen Caddy (1917)
Stop Clinging to the Thing That’s Hurting You
Throughout time the great sages have told us we hurt ourselves in our efforts to save ourselves. We fill ourselves with nonsense, hoping to buffer ourselves from the pain of life. But our buffers are our pain.
To let go and empty ourselves of all these distractions and misguided “protections” is the way to prepare ourselves to receive life’s greatest gift.
OneJourney founder Guy Finley has this inspiring quote that will give you deeper insight into these important revelations…
Life will empty whatever you fill — and whatever you empty, Life will fill. That’s the code — the hidden higher understanding required for spiritual wholeness; in this eternal Law is hidden the timeless splendor of the soul, all wrapped in mystery and filled with bittersweet contradiction.
— Guy Finley (1949)
Do you know of a quote from your own tradition that builds on our understanding of this truth, that the way to the fullness we want is first to empty ourselves? Click here to submit it to the OneJourney Living Book. As we see truth added to truth, we all grow stronger in the understanding that life is meant to work for us, if we will work with life.
Dr. Ellen Dickstein
The OneJourney Project