Wandering through the ruins of Angkor Wat over the last three days has made tangible a truth that constantly hovers between awareness and the unconscious – that this, too, is passing away.
The void that holds the countless projects, forms and selves of the past is a rich and unending darkness, a terribly full silence. Here, all efforts drain and return to their source… the nothingness that cradles and contours being itself.
From the perspective of human finitude, this emptiness is often a horrifying presence, one that haunts our relationships and sense of self. Against an infinite, churning ocean of spent histories, our feeble minutes and hours lose their privileged weight – small and precious moments swallowed in a sea of endless time.
Taoism has always offered some comfort, here. The darkness into which our energies flow is also their origin – the infinite spaces that bring shapeless dread also give form to life in all of its richness, variety, and abundant grace. And as beings marked by countless interactions freely given, routines and repetitions practiced with renewed joy and satisfaction, we share in the void’s ceaselessly creative flow.
And yet, we find ourselves suspended between two poles, one grounded and the other indefinite, in search of a path that stays faithful to the concrete and vaporous aspects of the human condition. Perhaps only a pained and humble affirmation of both is open to us, always compromised and fluctuating. Perhaps it fails to achieve the heroism, romanticism, or finality of other visions of reality and our place within it.
But it is open, nonetheless.