PJ's Personal Archives
Journal Excerpt [the Abyss]
This was written months later, and the follow-up comments were from December 1993 to January 1994. I would not wish this on my worst enemy, if I had one. I've tried to describe it, but it's about as ineffable as an experience can get.
It wasn't just that I wasn't the person I thought I was. I wasn't even the human I thought I was. I reeled in such astonishment and terror I felt myself fall farther backward into the horror of empty space, and I frantically grasped for what I "was" on other levels. Other places, other planes; other minds, other times. Not an identity crisis. A soul crisis. I wandered a vast universe searching for myself. People have lost their minds over less, I heard myself thinking, as if my thoughts belonged to someone else.
Other planets, other creatures, other wavelengths of light for crissakes, anything, please, I begged to the universe at large, find me...
I knew I could have fooled myself if I so chose. There were other aspects of what I thought of as "me" out there, somewhere. I could have crawled, aching and terrified, into the shell of an identity, and curled up there like a fetus, traumatized yet relieved of this burden of yawning emptiness. I struggled to maintain myself but the horror finally overcame me, and bled through me, leaving me as empty as the universe itself. This was the way it was: I had to accept it.
A curtain appeared around me, presented in full, an impassible void of separation that I could not get through. Not until I accepted it, the knowledge: I was not me. I was not human. Not until I could integrate it, the understanding. Not until I could become the knowledge and carry it. I was consumed by the realization, and felt eaten alive by the fact; I fought and lost, and knew on some distant, physical body level, if I didn't accept this, I would feel the effects forever echoing like a shock wave through my sanity.
I dropped into clarity, into my "anchor" as I called it as a child, and sought out my Will. It had to be Will, I realized. There was no emotion. No desire. No want. No need. No promise. No enthusiasm. No faith. No hope. No mercy. No saving grace: all had vanished in the emptiness. Nothing but Will, the atom of life, the kind that plods on for no reason at all except its own existence, when all other qualities have vanished and left you with nothing. Will took me through it, we became one with it, and the curtain vanished, leaving me in a different space.
Hard as it was to comprehend, I wasn't beyond it, I wasn't safe: it was worse. My mortal fear transcended to a new level. Not only was I not me. I was not anybody. Nobody. This was so much worse. Not on earth, not anywhere, not in other times, other dimensions, not in the universe, not anywhere in existence. I could quit looking, because I would never find me, the me I had been moments before scrambling for so desperately. I would never find me in any identity because there was no such thing.
I saw a concept, "identity" like a chessboard of black and white men, black and white squares, and I could be any of the men I chose, or the board, or a square, or the air, or any percentage or combination... it was totally irrelevant: all identity is just a game: it is an arbitrary collection of consciousness assigned a title: it is form, which is actually not-form, it is all actually Nothingness. Form is not the opposite of Nothing, Form IS Nothing, Nothing is composing it... and choosing a Form, including "identity" without what we know as "physical mass," is a deliberate thing; it has no meaning, independently, and I saw that none of the options of form, including identity, could begin to hold me, either in ability to encompass me, or in permanence.
I struggled against it, struggled to hold myself together, but the realization unraveled me and I had to let go, and I felt myself burst, inside to the outside, inverted like my own version of the astronomical big bang, and I was no longer attached to myself, I was splintered pieces like a ruptured balloon, floating in the blackness, in the void. Unanchored, we sensed the curtain, the demand for acquiescence, for integration. Battered beyond repair, exploded beyond reconstruction, the fragments of my former-me acknowledged, finally, and agreed.
The curtain vanished and left us in a third realm, and it was like a swift liquid eroding my remains. I understood I was not just not anybody... I was not anything, either. There was no identity and there was no separation and there was no human vs. objects vs. light because there was no THING. There was No-Thing. Nothing. And I thought after a long time that I could grasp that, but then it became clear: this realm wasn't like the first two. This was not just a matter of understanding; acceptance was more. This one would disassemble me, would disintegrate me as thoroughly as the former stage had shattered me like a mirror: it was not merely a threat to my survival, not about losing one's body, not even about losing one's soul. It was beyond that, behind that, and with grief beyond grief I realized that even the illusion of soul is a trick of the light.
And I finally realized that I had to die because I had never lived. I had to give up what I was because I was Not. Form and identity are a... distraction. There is no Form. There is no Identity. There is no Thing. I was Not, it all is Not. The mortal terrors, the universe-spanning yawning-horror of the previous two realms suddenly seemed like simplicity, like joyous innocence, compared to the impending obliteration of all, of me.
I wanted to run but the concept didn't even apply. If I have no form and there is no space, I have no identity and there is no time, where could I go and when? No option but acceptance: I was Not. There was Nothing, I was Nothing, and my belief in Something, both belief as a "thing" and Something as a "thing," were delusions. The tenuous, vague thing that called itself Me resisted.
Dissolving, feeling myself melting as if I were being deconstructed and sucked into something at the sub-atomic level, I knew I had to let go of the "somethings," those vague illusions I was holding to, and join Nothingness voluntarily, as a merge. But this was not equality. I was merging into, but not with. We were not sharing equally the identity that resulted. We could not coexist. And it struck me as the Absolute, and as the fundamental creation of the universe, and as the supreme of sorrow ... and yet home. And I realized there was no choice: it was already so: choice was only acceptance.
The last shred of remote me-ness let out a cry of dying anguish, and I flung the remainder of myself in, feeling like a still-beating heart sacrificed to the ultimate in horror: a solitary god who is Nothingness.
I was dead beyond death. I ceased to exist.
It was so traumatic I never spoke of it. Not to anybody. Didn't talk of it because my conscious mind couldn't deal with it. I couldn't ponder it because I couldn't even bring myself to think of it. Despite my occasional journalizing of my life, I couldn't write it down. I refused to imagine the results of it. It took months to even realize it fully enough to put it in one cohesive, somewhat linear form, writing it down. It was shocking and awe-inspiring just to go through the memory from a distance, while writing it months later. I'd been aware of my reaction to it, but barely of the event itself.
But once I'd gone through it, I saw this was actually related to things. Losing your identity in such a complete way is really, in effect, losing the illusion of "fixed" reality. It's like going behind it all... like going behind the screen, like realizing that the picture on the movie screen is really just a bunch of dots of light arranged in a certain manner. (And that even the light itself is merely a "creative composition.") It's an evolution of sorts, if painful.
Not just painful. Horrible beyond any description.
There are both polarities. I think there's probably an equal experience of being "everything" as there is being "nothing," however, I understand immediately that they are actually the same thing. All these new-age rainbow bright types with their "oneness" would die screaming like a shredded cat there, in my opinion. I don't think you can be All without being Nothing, because they are the same thing, in the way that all extreme polarities eventually are. Since that time, I think I must be a little "war torn" and cynical about it. I look at these sweetness and light "oneness" folks like they are simplistic idiots and think dryly, Ha. You wish!
At times I was almost annoyed about it, although that implies more emotion than I was able to summon for anything: all my emotional capability deserted me somewhere in that experience, and left me completely dissasociated from feeling, to a degree I could not have imagined possible. As for the experience, in some ways it just seemed ridiculous and unfair.
[journal] I don't get it. Why? Why me? Billions of people on this planet with gods and gurus and crystals up their nose and of all the things to be "enlightened" about, mine gets to be about Nothingness?!
Off and on, and in particular right afterward, I struggled with a depth of emptiness I hadn't known was possible, and intense suicidal tendencies. I used to say that only optimists kill themselves -- pessimists aren't surprised their life sucks, ha! But it had nothing to do with emotions, with my life, with circumstance, or anything like that. All idealism and even emotion related to frustration had vanished from my personality. It was as if I simply couldn't feel anything at all. Biologically I was fine, and mentally I was fine, but there was something else, something more, some critical "me-ness" that had vanished from me.
[journal] I've survived, but yet am deader than the word is capable of expressing. I feel like a dry husk. My spiritual emptiness is beyond words.
[journal] I have ceased to feel, at the deepest level. As if I have no soul.
[journal] My loneliness is the size of the universe. I am empty and the hole inside me aches. I feel suicidal, not as if I want to die, but as if I'm dead already, and pretending to live is only time wasting, dazed aching.
[journal] I'm so lonely. I feel as if I'm a shell, as if some crucial component inside me got vacuumed out and I'm empty. I don't know that having another person around would make the difference unless there was a strong connection on other levels. It's a soul lonely, not a physical lonely, but the physical is a big component too. And I'm exhausted damn it, my sleeping patterns really suck, and even when I sleep I don't seem to sleep, and I'm beginning to feel mauled by all these experiences that are often uncomfortably physical. I just want to be safe and get away and hide for awhile. But despite my desire to find a small dark space to curl up in, there don't seem to be any available. They're probably being taken by other folks who applied sooner. Like in that movie Beetle Juice, I'm in some cosmic waiting room and my number is 21 digits long...
One side effect of the "Nothingness" experience was a complete shift in how I viewed myself and spirituality; in particular, divinity and its manifestation(s), such as "god."
[journal] It doesn't seem possible that I could be so empty if there was no "higher self;" psychology alone can't begin to compete for a label to assign this emptiness. Armchair intellectuals might assign it a label, but they don't know. If ever anything were on the cosmic scale, this is it. I would pray, but I don't believe in some supreme god on a throne. Finally I need a god, how do you like that? Talk about a dilemma. I do believe in a "higher self" of sorts, from experience. So where the hell is it when I need it? I've been directing my wishes at some "inner" part of me (as if there is anything there anymore). I hope god doesn't mind being addressed as a generic, off the shelf entity. "To Whom it May Concern..."
[journal] I still think maybe I should just off myself and be done with it already. Pretending to be alive seems like such a waste of time and energy. I mean really, what's the point?
[journal] Objectively, I'm worried about myself. I simply cannot believe the scope of how empty I feel. It's as if every single thing in the entire universe -- including me -- died, and evaporated, and I'm left alone and a zombie or something, with an aching hole inside me that is so vast it spans the galaxy and more. I mean getting upset over a metaphysical experience is one thing, but this far surpasses anything I've ever encountered in my whole life. I am so shell-like, so alone I've had to physically restrain myself from killing myself. And it's hard, so hard, not to... in the car, I just want to relax, and let myself drive off the edge of that cliff, meet that big truck head on, whatever... it is so strong to just be nothing, to just relieve myself of this emptiness by relieving myself of consciousness... at this point, only Will keeps me alive. You know Will. It just keeps on like the Energizer Bunny, regardless of whether the planet and all life as I know it has been obliterated, there's Will like the bunny, completely out of place and unaware, beating like my heart insists on doing. (My heart. Hell! It could at least have had the good grace to die with me! That would have solved these problems.) It just travels along through space and time with no apparent purpose. I want to cease awareness of my emptiness. I can't say I want to die, because that infers I think I'm alive, and I really don't think I am. Biologically, obviously, but there's more to being alive. Apparently. I think I've come to believe in a God, not the typical perception of the deity but definitely the "spark of divinity" thing, by way of finding myself without such a sense, without that spark within me. I am only a thinking corpse without the god-life inside me.
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