How to Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It

"Voidness" is a complex object of study in philosophy because while it is a fundamental system of thought, it has been used by many philosophers and metaphysicists on various levels, utilizing many different terms. To gain a firm understanding of it, ideally it should be handled fearlessly by anyone who looks for truth, as well as by those seeking to explore humanity and what constitutes the individual, in order to discover who and what these concepts constitute. Here are some ways to explore voidness and to live through it.


  1. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 1
    Consider a bold theory for starters, namely that voidness or emptiness occurs because it is in-between what is "there" to us. What we normally consider as "us" or "me" is an accumulated collective of memories, knowledge, habits, culture and beliefs (etc.) but the foundation for all of our consciousness is without a "True" or pre-determined meaning, theme, or background, and remains only an assumption made by our individual brains.
    • Consider seeing the world for the first time, then consider the knowledge and experience that has created all the layers that makes you as a person say "this is me and mine". Yet even as a baby, there are countless psychological processes and interactions that result in a "you" that was there before you were born. If you were to take away all these aspects of "you," anything that remains would be meaningless, or inhuman, to you.
    • If you were to remove all your memories, habits and all the things you identify as you, you could not consider what is left behind because it is no longer within the realm of mundane human understanding and ideas. In essence, the identity of a person is dependent on a large variety of internal and external factors, each of them impermanent and often acting individually, or without our direct awareness and if these individual processes were put aside there is no remainder. This philosophy may seem concerning because it requires us to re-examine and re-evaluate many of the cultural and personal ideas and attachments we have.
  2. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 2
    Examine other living things. Just as animals react to similar things that we do (such as reacting to hunger, or feelings, or temperature, or to being confronted by an attacker), animals can also plan and remember (elephants have exceptional memory for places, gorillas can learn to communicate using human methods, crows recognize human faces and communicate this to other crows, predators maintain hunting grounds, etc). Note the similarities between human beings and their animal cousins, how connected we are in our daily patterns and motivations, and how little difference there is between us all.
    • We could pinpoint language as a unique trait, but then dogs bark and howl, birds twitter and squawk and there is a wide range of animal body language such as baring teeth, tensing and "puffing up" which some animals (including humans) use to seem bigger and stronger, etc. Words are just like programming code, but body language is far more deeply ingrained, like firmware to language's software. Consider that other animals have similar characteristics and functional abilities based in the genetic coding responsible for our hardware.
  3. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 3
    Consider non-living things. Is there purpose in stones, water, or even the world? Probe your own response to this question, as underneath your assertions are a great many assumptions about the nature of the world and reality. The concept of Void-ness would remind you that each assumption must be examined and its own arbitrary, all-together human foundation recognized, until nothing remains.
    • Socrates is possibly best known for the paraphrased quote, "I am the wisest, because only I know that I know nothing." There is a hidden meaning to this paradox in that it is not a paradox at all. It is not one answer or the other, but each reciprocally answering the other, never settling on a single "Answer." Mastering this is key to understanding the Void.
    • Consider the scale of the universe from its galaxies and stars down to the tiny bacteria, atoms and subatomic particles. All these things change, are impermanent and are independently in motion. Consider how the planets are racing though space around the Sun or other stars. If you keep expanding this perspective to take the stars into account and any planets they may have, is there evidence or not of some plan or a great mover of those stars and planets, as opposed to physics? Try to consider a weighted average between your experience and the views of others in this regard.
      Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 3Bullet2
  4. 4
    Look for evidence of a beginning which shows the mark of a scheduled plan. If it were possible to set things in motion such as starting a spinning top and then letting it go, are there any demonstrable patterns that evidence where they are intended to end up?

    Voidness by nature puts into stark contrast that many of these "design" or "plan" questions may never be resolved, because part of the question was without basis in what is actually occurring. Voidness in practice requires a person to put aside these questions in order to prevent bias or selective observation and that a person without opinion, desire or preferences, observe that things are simply as they are.
    • It might be possible that the universe was purposefully set in motion and left to its own devices, much like a spinning top, but then it might also be possible for the forces of physics to start it and keep it going without assistance. It is a consistent variation between two main philosophies, either (a) One option is that some entity set all of reality in motion or (b) Another option is that physics, every particle/wave, is acting as it must, void of plan or controller, impermanent, changing and dynamic responding to cause and effect and that a true singular beginning is simply not evident but is a result of continuous change. Each option has demonstrable evidence in the eyes of individual observers, however in this instance it is important to be aware when the observation and interpretation of such evidence is selective and/or relative. Therefore a person must observe it as it is, without bias or shaping.
    • Try to find out which approach you consider most apt, either by studying the vast universe and physics, or life and the terrestrial animals of Earth, but always looking for a pattern or demonstrable evidence to support your theories. Einstein proved, to his own satisfaction at least, that everything came from nothing.

      Your own evaluations matter in your search for the truth, as well as the views of others, but it is wise to not depend on any one view for exploring your mind and the world. The Buddha, who spoke much on the subject, described the varying and opposing philosophies of his day (many of which are mainstream today), as "A jungle of views, a tangle of views". While many tried to juggle and cut their way through them to find the facts for themselves, the Buddha realised it was necessary to abandon those which did not match what was real, even if it was an enchanting or self-empowering philosophy. If a person was to continue to hold on to a firm set belief or hypothesis during their search for the facts, or searching for an answer to a question tied to a belief structure, they would not be able to have both.

      Philosophy therefore is about the scientific process of observation and analysis in relation to personal experiences and should not be about reaching absolute certainty. While the laws of physics can be highly transcendental and enlightening, it is the rare minority who go down that path as it is not self-empowering, nor inclining towards power or debate. The concepts of the words "absolute certainty" are themselves neither absolute, nor certain, due to the universal nature of impermanence and change.

      As it has been aptly said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", a person intent on researching this subject must not only consider both options to a deep level, not a trivial level, but at the same time accept that while there is many interpretations of life and the universe, there is only this reality which is as it is.
  5. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 5
    Work out what your feelings are in relation to the idea of void, such as whether you find the idea of voidness scary, comforting, or strange, and so forth. If you feel anything at all, try to find out what and why, as well as how it influences your perception of all other things in life.
  6. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 6
    Look where new emotions point you. See if that changes anything. You might find that if you feel uncomfortable, it might be because you're handling a new idea, but that's a good thing – allow yourself to be stretched intellectually. Then ask yourself whether those feelings influence what you believe to be the nature of existence.
    • If you find the idea is liberating, scary in its implications, or want to see if your conclusions can be tested, then look outside into the world. Stay mindful of the ideas you are looking for, see if their patterns repeat with any significance in reality.
  7. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 7
    See how you can use your thinking and experiences to improve your life and make the world a better place. Consider in what way you will move beyond the voidness to continue engaging with the world by letting go of "socially constructed" thoughts and feelings and looking beyond them.
  8. Image titled Explore Voidness and Live Beyond It Step 8
    Finally, remember above all this: In a world void of pre-determined meaning, you are free to make your own. We have no choice about dying at some point, but we get to choose how to live. It is important to remember that by avoiding making our own path in order to follow another's interpretation or opinions, we never develop deeply as human beings and life remains without depth. Potentially living with information that is all second hand as we have made no discoveries or insights of our own. The knowledge gained by exploring Voidness is knowing what promotes a happy, healthy and peaceful life, and what results in stress, illness and strife. There can be power, dignity, and honor in thinking for oneself and to co-exist in harmony with one's environment. Good luck and have fun!


  • The desire to find an answer stems from our ability to ask the question.
  • Bruce Lee once said, "Emptiness is the starting point. — In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup. My friend, drop all your preconceived and fixed ideas and be neutral. Do you know why this cup is useful? Because it is empty."
  • To paraphrase from Taoism "The moment you try to define the Tao, you've lost it" or the moment you need to fill peaceful emptiness, it is no longer peaceful or empty. Taoism and Buddhism both have much to say on the void.
  • The most important point of the article is that the "Void" or "Emptiness" doesn't need filling, mysteries don't need explaining. Nothing "needs" or "deserves" anything. There are no authorities in place to will such a concept, or at least, none that we can demonstrate the existence of.
  • One major Existentialist Philosopher, Heidegger, suggests that these thoughts of relation with the void to ourselves will result in "primordial anxiety," a sense that other realities and horizons of possibility exist alongside our already-known sphere of understanding, waiting to be explored.
  • Be brave - Don't be afraid of any new thoughts or ideas, or where they may lead you, even if the path looks difficult or contradictory.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference texts of philosophers and writers who have discussed continental existential philosophy, or voidness. Try Socrates, Goethe, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Derrida, and Camus for starters..
  • Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" may also prove useful.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Philosophy | Philosophy and Religion