This is one of the crucial things to understand in the process of developing a more realistic relationship with the Earth, her creatures and indeed ourselves and other humans. Many great folk tales revolve around the concept, but in out current capitalistic milieu, scant attention and “coverage” of this important reality make it into the collective consciousness. Many of us subscribe to the victim-hood mentality. I have been finding myself guilty of this as well, although I seem to be recognizing the death spiral earlier on in the process. Occasionally, I will just “see” the negativity crossing through my consciousness like a specter. Realizing that it only has the power to harm me that I feed it, makes me far less likely to grab on, engage it, or feed into the dark side that it represents.
We most often hear about the empty pot only in relation to addiction. A common statement that I hear is that someone had to hit “rock bottom” before they could be put back on the right track. Often when we have lost everything, or feel that we have, it opens us up to new approaches. This makes sense. When we revel in our victim posture, or identify it as part of our personality, it causes a great disconnect between who we are and who we think we are. Many have lost everything and re-imagined themselves stronger, wealthier, and had a better chance at success after the traumatic events that led them to “lose everything”.
In the runes, we find this aspect as a source of power as well as a relinquishment of power. The irony is that the most impoverished is never limited by their possessions. when we are in the place of the empty pot, all possibility opens to us. We may “lose love” only to find that it was dysfunctional. We may lose our wealth only to realize that there are far more important things waiting out there for us. We may lose our sense of self respect or purpose only to learn ways to serve more profoundly or to heal our own dis-ease. The capacity of the empty pot is greater than any other pot. Spirit fills the empty vessel much more readily than one full of gruel. This could be why the statement, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.
As sick as it is to worship our victimization, or to claim “long suffering” as a virtue, we often do it. I’m not even sure why, but I’m suspicious that the ego is involved. Certainly, it sounds infinitely better to say, “So and so screwed me over.” than “I trusted the wrong person.” We are often left no choice once we paint ourselves into a corner. The empty pot exists, it is as much a part of life as birth and death. When we have tried every tool at our disposal, and none of them are working or are truly at wits end, we may plumb the depths of the empty pot. Realizing that the infinite is most available at this time may help us through whatever difficulties arise along our path. Often the only thing that limits us is the way we choose to see things. When we lose all that we hold dear, or are stumbling about in the dark, feeling the destitution and isolation of having nothing more to give, these are the moments when the greatest gifts can be manifested in our lives.
Remember the tale of Stone Soup. The weary traveler had not even a pot, yet he created a savory stew, by enlisting the good nature of the townsfolk. The greatest of all dishes begins with an empty pot. Our lives can be no different. Educational psychologists speak of the blank slate, “tabula rasta”, something always comes from nothing. What we need to do is understand that to reach into the unexplored depths of the empty pot, cast about for something and come up empty again and again is just the start of new beginnings. We are often better served by the emptiness and hollow victories in life than we would be if we had all the riches of the world.