The Hollow Man

Melancholie, sculpture by Albert György

The Hollow Man is always looking around for something to fill himself up with, and he almost doesn’t care what it is. He hasn’t the discernment that comes when one knows WHO they are. There is an internal compass that must be cultivated for discernment to exist within.

The Hollow Man reaches outside of himself for wisdom and thus does not recognize true wisdom, as he does not have the gauge within to find, seek, discover, uncover, and discern the Greater Truths. He is a leaf in the wind, blown about, here and there. He adopts ideas as his own and regurgitates them verbatim. He vociferously re-spouts these ideas and “facts” to the world, puffing himself up with importance. He is happy to shame those beneath him intellectually. His desire to conquer with “rightness” is a desire to be Right which supersedes a desire to find Truth. This feeling of being right also fills his void temporarily as he seeks opportunities to tell others (more ignorant people in his estimation) how it really is. He is right so they must be wrong…and re-educated by him. The Hollow Man is temporarily buoyed by a sensation of righteousness, though the emptiness of his soul is always hungry for more. Though he appears to be puffed up, inside the Hollow Man remains concerned about his emptiness, but he would never admit this to the outside world because that would put him in a position of extreme vulnerability which is too frightening.

When an Outlier with an opposing viewpoint comes into the picture, into the Hollow Man’s field of reference, if her words are inspiring, she may in fact confuse and disorient the Hollow Man, causing him to question his beliefs. This is disconcerting. Here is an opportunity for openness on the part of the Hollow Man. Up until this point now, the Hollow Man fills his void the easy way, the quickest route. But the Outlier’s ideas require more self-work; she looks at information outside of her too, but then she brings it home and chews on it a while. There is a kind of self-disciplined homework or self-work she does — personal discernment and sovereignty, intuition, patience for the long journey, trust in Self, willingness to surrender to a faith in Great Spirit (oh yes, this last layer is the hardest to accept, and yet the most important developmental layer, given the human tendency toward resisting surrender).

The Seeker of Truth (who may indeed be the Outlier) knows through experience that these are lifetimes’ difficult journeys. Wisdom is not picked up off the sidewalk and stuck in one’s back pocket in a single afternoon. That’s too much effort for the Hollow Man, who does not see the beauty of Truth and love of Self on the other side of the journey. How do you get good at anything? Practice, practice, practice. And believe in yourself, have faith. (These terms — like surrender and faith — have been co-opted by religions, thus presenting a terrible taste in the mouth to most; it’s a wounding created by religion, a big hurdle to spirituality.) So instead of this inner journey, the Hollow Man fills his void the easy way, taking ideas from his comforting, safe resources and failing to examine (and re-examine) his belief system. He makes so many assumptions based on these belief system hypocrisies. It’s just so much easier to be told what to think and follow along with that, and especially if it is in-line with one’s fears.

The Hollow Man may get angry when his comfortable paradigm is catalyzed into a shift. Fear and frustration (at not being comfortable) will manifest, just like a toddler who has had his old ratty ‘blankie’ taken away and retired to the memory chest. All phases of growth and change, however, are challenging. Resistance can end in opposites — further burying one’s head in the sand OR cracking open into receptivity of new ideas which takes courage. This second option obviates the Hollow Man’s free will. Anyone can change their mind at any time in life. (You might be pleasantly surprised to find how OFTEN this happens, without your knowledge. Of course, we mostly hear about conflict and opposition in the “news,” not positive transformation.)

In the meantime, the Hollow Man cannot see his own soul. He is lost. He has forgotten. He cannot see it anymore. He does not know himself. He does not have the time or the solitude or the will to seek it. It is not a flashy thing. It is not easy, it is not readily available on the supermarket shelf. It is not a continuation of the old but a foundational alteration of the understanding of the soul. Big stuff.

What is it that the Hollow Man or any of us is seeking? What is this ineffable thing? When we seek Meaning, do we seek it within ourselves or from the outside/external? The Hollow Man seeks meaning, but he can only look outside of himself for it. Self-knowledge requires commitment. To the Hollow Man, this looks like self-sacrifice. Very hard. Too much work. “It’s too quiet when I sit in silence,” he thinks, “I don’t like it.” But the Seeker has learned on her slow, step-by-step journey TOWARD fulfillment that there are triumphs along the way. She knows that every time she fills her heart with openness and Love instead of fear, she is rewarded tenfold.

There are two issues at play here:

The search for knowledge… And the search for fulfillment.

“Knowledge” is information, which can aid in the soul’s search for true Wisdom, (even though this is really a search that must eventually be conducted within). It’s both. One seeks in the world, and then one balances within. In other words, knowledge is external and wisdom is internal.

Knowledge (facts) without discernment leaves the Hollow Man stranded and vulnerable by the side of the road — he has his finger out and will take a ride with anyone. Any information can fill him. Anything that provides some comfort will do. He changes his mind quickly. He is the leaf in the wind. Or, alternatively, he hunkers down and never changes. He becomes like petrified fossil, eternally stuck. He is so very scared of change. So, the Hollow Man is either too easily led or is intransigent. Neither end of the spectrum is counterbalanced.

Knowledge evolves. Wanting a final answer (now!) which won’t ever mutate on him, and trying to fill the void once and for all, that’s what the Hollow Man wants. He thinks he’d like to be done with this whole searching thing and just find something that works. Seeking knowledge, however, does not unfold this way. Knowledge is collected, ingested, integrated, and ultimately understood AFTER much re-evaluation and discernment in layers — like waves on the shore. It’s not a single data dump. It is a process of adjustment and a willingness to change one’s mind. It is a scary thing! Much of the knowledge, the information, the facts and figures, the statistics, the science, the technology, the news — is multifaceted, nuanced, layered, complex, and even dichotomous (reflecting the matrix’s dualism) — that the human mind, no matter how sophisticated, could not handle or accept it all at once. The Seeker intuitively crawls, then toddles, then walks, then runs.

Untitled 20" x 20" mixed media on canvas, by Tokeli

Second, the search for “fulfillment,” on the other hand, is the soul’s discovery of MEANING. Now, the human mind-body wants to call fulfillment more something like “comfort.” Concept: the Hollow Man fills his void with ideas that will comfort him within his CURRENT paradigm instead of preparing him for his next developmental shift. The Seeker doesn’t care if fulfillment is comforting at first, because she knows that the eventual integration of the Truth (even the difficult, complex truth) is a truer feeling of meaning or fulfillment. One is satisfying immediately, like McDonald’s French fries, while one is a discipline for long-term health and satisfaction, like changing the health lifestyle. Do you see the difference?

In fact, fulfillment, a sense of purposefulness or meaning, may or may NOT be “comfortable” at all. It may challenge; it may confront; it may dare. It may divide the consciousness and split open the belief systems. It may separate the consciousness into what I used to believe and what I am beginning to suspect moving forward. Would this not require the humility, then, to admit one was wrong before and now must re-calibrate? Would it not require an admission that one does not know what one does not know that he/she does not know? (Think about it.) The Hollow Man wants to be right. The Seeker seeks.

“Before I Animate the Meatbag,” 48"x 60" mixed media on canvas by Tokeli.