Growing up in the evangelical world, a central lesson I learned about reality was that there were necessary and normative divisions. These divisions began at the moment of creation itself: God separating light from dark, land from water, sky from earth, and, most relevant to me, woman from man. The first 27 verses of the book of Genesis describe this process of creation by way of division, from an earth “formless and void.”
As a gay child, I was raised to believe that the sin of my homosexuality blurred these foundational distinctions established at the dawn of time. Homosexuality, by its very nature, violated the metaphysics of man and woman. It was therefore understood as an act of Uncreation: a terrifying unraveling of the created order, a returning to an earth formless and void.
I can’t stop thinking about this myth now that I am delving more deeply into my meditation practice.
Like the Biblical creation narrative, our conscious experience is made up of arbitrary boundaries: within the body and outside the body, me and not me, us and them, eyes closed and eyes opened. Upon further examination by way of meditation, these experiences start to break down. When our eyes are open, we perceive the world, when our eyes are closed, the lights are off and we see nothing. But this is false: our visual field is still active, and we see just as much with eyes closed as with eyes open. We locate our sense of self in the body, while we perceive the world outside our body. But this too is a trick played by our brains. All thoughts, experiences, perceptions, and sensations are taking place alongside each other within the single sphere of our consciousness. The experience of having a body is appearing within consciousness right alongside the experience of the world and other selves being outside our bodies. Most dramatic of all, examination reveals the self to be an illusion — a construction of the mind that vanishes when examined.
To meditate on the nature of consciousness is to go through a disturbing undoing of all our divisions. It is a rapid reversal of the creation myth, plummeting us back into an earth — a consciousness — formless and void. By way of meditation, the divisions between me and you, inner and outer, us and them, self and no self, are all exposed as illusions.
As I experiment with incorporating meditation into my Satanic practice, I can’t help but feel that this act of meditative uncreation and dissolving boundaries within consciousness is fundamentally Satanic, anti-hegemonic, anti-racist, and anti-bigotry. In the same way the mythic Satan trespasses the boundaries of paradise and commences the metaphysical uncreation of reality, meditation dissolves boundaries between us and them, inner and outer, self and no-self. This might be one of the attributes of Satan that most terrifies fundamentalists: the symbol of Satan, by his nature, exposes the instability of binaries and hegemonic divisions. As S. Jonathan O’Donnell explains in their book Passing Orders:
Yet it is Paradise’s continuity that is threatened by the trespassing of this passing figure. Satan traverses its borders and adopts the semblance of its occupants, unfixing its fixity. Rather than merely figuring the Devil’s internal anxiety over celestial permanence, his capacity to pass into it and as its residents exposes a deeper anxiety about the possibility of such permanence, revealing eternity to be itself unstable and transient, exposing Paradise’s imbrication in what Brown called the “tremulousness, vulnerability, dubiousness and instability” of (nation-state) sovereignty that a need for walls represents—not sovereignty’s “resurgent expression” but “icons of its erosion.
While O’Donnell’s analysis is mostly applied to nations and cultures and how “demonized minorities” interact with those structures, I think their words here rhyme with the experience of consciousness and meditation as well. To meditate deeply on the nature of cosmos and consciousness is to become a Satan, trespassing the borders of Paradise and beholding the arbitrary divisions of consciousness and society and, at least for only a moment, return to an earth formless and void.
But that’s just me. What do you think? Please leave a comment below or write me an email. I love hearing back from my audience.
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6 thoughts on “Meditation as Uncreation”
The Hebrew term, Tohu VaBohu, which gets translated into English as “formless and void” is a conundrum to translate. Tohu appears in Isaiah, but Bohu appears nowhere else and is a hapax legemenon, a word that only ever appears once in Scripture. The writers of the King James translation therefore relied on the Septuagint translation into Greek from the Hebrew. Some speculate that it might not even have been void, but more akin to a primordial chaos that the universe was created out of, the essence of everything. We don’t know for certain, but that also wasn’t the point of this particular creation story. It was a poem, showing how God brought design into what previously had no design. It was also a response to the bloody creation stories of the Babylonians and Egyptians, where the universe was created out of war and death.
Thanks for sharing!
Dear Stephen: Being 75 now I still struggle with celibacy late in life I finally excepted my Gayness or SSA. I have written to you before and have even saved your responses, I’m beginning to believe that if one strictly follows scriptures that NO one is getting into heaven. But I do believe in God’s Mercy and the afterlife. I find music of some Christian groups very uplifting Recently I came across a song on youtube Talking to Jesus. The different cultures singing this song Makes it special. Bless you always I’m a Fan of your Goodness Love Brother David parrish
It’s wonderful to hear from you, David. Thanks so much for commenting, and always feel free to reach out.