The Receptive Void

Alan Rayner
10 min readOct 9, 2021
Nightburst’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 2020) The emergence from void into conscious expression

I am here


Bathing you

In my receptive, omnipresent stillness

The silent calmness within and all around

Your agitation


I am no threat to your existence

I am here for you

Not against you

Calling you this way

To be as you become


See me, feel me, touch me

In your imagination

And be free


NB I have long felt that societal tyranny has much to do with a continually reinforced ‘fear of the void’ as a source of existential threat. So to perceive the void as ‘receptive’ (as is central to my understanding of natural inclusion) offers a radically different and more truthful view, which helps to liberate us from fear.

For further exploration of the mutually inclusive, receptive-responsive relationship between intangible space and energy within all tangible form, please visit


Space cannot be displaced
She can only be illuminated
Into material form
To realise this
Is true enlightenment
Not the false dawn
That splits the darkness
From the night
Or disregards the difference
That makes all the difference
To our understanding of nature’s variety
Born from the love of each for other
In receptive & responsive
Mutually inclusive
Co-creative embrace

***True Enlightenment***

Is neither a link nor a chain. It comes with the knowledge that space, as an intangible omnipresence of receptive stillness, cannot be displaced by — it can only be illuminated energetically into — tangible form.

‘Pondage’ (‘pooled togetherness’/ ‘natural communion’) is not Bondage, but a natural inclusion of space in flux (in space) — intangible within tangible within intangible. If humanity is to stop blundering, it will need to break its addiction to interconnectedness as well as its addiction to materialism. Those two addictions arise from the same false premise. Nature is not an object. We cannot connect to what already includes us as a dynamic local inclusion of itself.

We need to stop avoiding the void, and understand it for what it is, at the receptive heart of our being and becoming.

Peace Be Within You

As your mind races

To pick up the traces

Between now and then

The where and the when

The fly-past

And by-passed

In circuitous travel

That begins to unravel

As you pick it apart

From what’s deep in your heart

That quakes at the sound

Beyond your home ground

Disturbing the night

With outbursts of light

That bring you to life

Midst what seems to be strife

Between inner and outer

In the eye of the doubter

But in reality serves

In the shape of its curves

To hold you together

Regardless of weather

You know it or not

Neither ice-cold nor white-hot

But surfacing the dream

Between every extreme

Protecting and feeding

What’s vulnerable and needing

With endless fluidity

Not finite frigidity

Or careless abandon

From what’s here to stand on

Balancing between

The deviation and the mean

Without cause for alarm

When there’s no source of harm

In what welcomes us in

To this world in a spin


All That Really Goes Wrong For Us

I say this to me

As I say this to you

All that really goes wrong for us

In what we think, feel and do

Is that we become understandably but unnecessarily scared

Of what we don’t need to be scared of

And unnecessarily attached

To what prevents us

From being what we can truly become

When we acknowledge

The receptive spatial hollowness of our interior

And the responsive energetic surfacing of our exterior

As the love in our life

The focal point of gravity within our dynamic situation

As our true self-centre

In natural communion with all


This Isn’t What I Wanted

Ptear Drops’ (Oil painting on board by Alan Rayner, 2000). The boundaries of a conscious, bright-eyed awareness of pear blossom and fruit dissolve into a deeper world of pools, riven by disjunction where cascades descend, splash and refocus, caught in a frozen moment. Based on a trance-like experience overlooking Pulteney Weir, Bath

This Isn’t What I Wanted
When I started on this quest
To find my self and loved ones
Excluded from the rest
That comes from mellow fruitfulness
Before the fall
When all’s been said and done
This isn’t what we wanted
When rapt within each other
We dreamt of being mother
And father of life to come
In joyful springs of welcome
But found ourselves instead
In downcast depths of mourning
Pondering what went wrong
In the middle of our song
That left us stranded here
From tidal waves of fear
Washed up, washed out
Struggling for breath
Between slabs of concrete thought
Dividing or uniting
Into parts and wholes
Dissipating or stifling
The flames of common passion
That bloom from holes in hearts
Receptive and responsive
To what brings life to love
In co-creative yearning
But if you ask me
Would I rather be
He than me
Them than us
There than here
That than this
Whiter than white
Cleaner than clean
Pure as the driven snow
Then I’ll have to say
Quite honestly
The answer’s no
Not if that’s what it takes
To be successful

Lifetime Non-Achievement Award

‘Tumbledown’ (Oil painting on canvas by Alan Rayner, 2007) Painted following a visit to the geologically unstable landscape on the Dorset coast around Lyme Regis and Seaton, and its revelations of prehistoric life on Earth’

I am proud and humbled
To announce
That I have won
A lifetime non-achievement award
From the Human Society for the Prevention of Natural Sense-Making
In recognition of the fact
That all my endeavours
To make a difference
To make a contribution
To human knowledge and understanding
Have come to nothing
Or, as the mathematics of discredit would have it
Less than nothing
But, never mind
All’s well that ends well

A Nonny Mouse

That Loving Feeling

That feeling you have
In the midst of your chest
Which makes you want
To embrace someone or something
Is what everything
Is ultimately made from
The immaterial within, throughout and all about
The material
The silent, receptive stillness of omnipresent space
The rush of excitement
Including each other
In swirling form
The only good reason
To do or not to do
To be or not to be
Anything or anyone
The love of life itself
Ignored by those objectively minded
For whom all that matters
Is what can be costed and counted
Then trashed
At the end of its usable presence
So when you regard with dismay
This world as it is today
And ask what has been lost
In the quest for material gain
You know the refrain
That cries out in sorrow and pain
From the lamenting heart
Which is anything but self-righteous

Writings in Shadow

23 -27 February 2022

Real Life Emergence’ (Oil paintings on board by Alan Rayner, 2018)

***Webs and Flows***
Beware the pitfalls of those tales you hear
Spread in silken words
From ear to ear
Of smiley faces
That speak of webs and nets and weaving fabrics
As clothes for wholes and parts
Defined by ties that bind
In constant fixture
Interconnecting this and that
As stony jewels in Indra’s palace
For, as every hungry spider knows
A web’s not a flow
But a trap for unwary travellers
To get stuck in gridlock
Awaiting Godot
In creeping paralysis
Not vibrant life
That’s never completed
But passes on
From here to here
In continuous channels
So when you hear
Those stories being told
Just remember
The Art of Life
Is not to be a stifled part of it
But to take one’s turn
To be included
In the flow that liberates
While coming and going
In rhythmic circulations

Why would anyone in this wide-eyed world
Want to possess anything?
When all that’s needed
To live, to love, to be loved
In natural beauty
Is here for us to share and care for
From there to here in everywhere
Out in the open air
If it weren’t for some deep insecurity
That cuts us off by mental fiat
As free-willed figures
From our ground
To wander lost, not found
In fearful isolation
Clinging to whatever comes to hand
In material disguise
To stop us falling
When all around, throughout and deep within
Our lively bodies
Our ground keeps calling to be heard
In silence, if not in spoken word
To release us from our guard
Against what threatens our pretence
To be or not to be
This side or other of the fence
That pens us in and others out
And allow ourselves instead
To be as we become
As we are in this world as it is
And always have and has been
And always will be
Manifestations of space and light
In mutual embrace
Not opposition
For then we’ll know
And know for sure
That every act of war
Is an act of cowardice
Nothing more

***Just What to Say?***

I wondered then
I wonder now
I wonder each and every day
Just what to say
To make a jot of difference
To what holds sway
In minds abstracted from the way
We come to be here
As we are
Is nothing really all
That can be said
To quell this fear
That’s in our heads?
Put there by generations passed
Who can’t be asked
To think or feel
What’s real
But must for some odd reason
Divorced from emotion
What’s here and there and everywhere
Just isn’t
While putting in its place
Some imaginary fabric
That cuts across reality
Slicing it into portions
As if it’s a piece of cake
Easy as that to seal
Our fate
In closed packaging
But taking forever to heal
Until and unless
Sound reason prevails
And restores us to our senses

As needful living beings -
Centres of receptive in responsive awareness
Inspiring and expiring
From our outer to inner
And inner to outer
We can never be complete
Whole numbers
Apart from where we belong
As dynamical figures
In natural neighbourhood
But we can be replete
Content in those pauses for rest
In the stillness
Between gathering inwards
And giving outwards
In companionship with others
Doing the same
In variable rhythms
With whom we can join
From whom we can depart
In musical consonance
And dissonance
As we dwell in diverse communion
Suffused all the while
By the receptive grace
In omnipresent space
That opens the way
For us to be here
In the first place

***On Being a Lone Voice***
If you ask me how it feels
To be alone
In giving voice
To natural inclusion
As the fundamental principle
Underlying all that is, has been and will be
Well, I wonder how you might imagine
It feels?
How would you feel?
Would you feel good, bad, happy, sad, confident, doubtful, courageous, scared, excited, depressed
Or all or none of the above?
And what would you do or say about it?
Especially if you saw a human world
In dire trouble
Due to believing otherwise
In one way or another
Would you be content
To speak your peace
And leave it there
To fizzle out
For lack of care
Like a seed stranded
In barren ground?
Would you seek sycophantic followers
As replicates and suppliants
Who you could lead
In swelling throng
With you at their helm
While knowing only too well
Your human frailties and biases
Would you seek companions
You could trust
To affirm your findings
And your reasoning
And join their voices
With yours in swelling song
Each in their own way
Augmenting what needs to be done and said
To reach those afflicted
By the status quo?
I know the latter
Is the path I’ve sought
With nothing sold or bought
And I know I’m not
Without support or interest
But I also know
That without those companion voices
Mine alone
Can never change the course of what was
Set in motion
Thousands of years ago

***Emerging From Shadow***

The continuous, wide, receptive openness of space

The continual motion of energetic excitation

Each in the other’s embrace

Bring life into being

In bodily fountains

Emerging from Shadow

Into the brightness of day

And luminosity of night


Far from the battle cry

That sets one against the other

In fearful opposition


With malevolent intent


Peace be with us

In co-creative alliance

From the depth of our being

Into our outburst of becoming

As we are


***Invitation Dynamics***
The feminine principle of spatial receptivity at the heart of natural inclusion

Well, quite often
I feel embarrassed
To be a white, heterosexual male
In a culture so dreadfully corrupted
By existential fear of the receptive void
And the will to power of mind over matter
That seeks to divide and rule
By means of hard-line judgements
Regardless of place and time as motion
That insensible, unreasonable
Bone-headed Pride & Prejudice
That will not be swayed
From its predetermined path of cruelty
So far removed from Sense & Sensibility
But here I be
As me
The son of a bitch
Born under equatorial sun & moon
Where night equals day
Pointing the way of the mutually inclusive middle
Which holds each dear
In the love of the other
Aware of the invitation
In the heart of all souls
To come to play
As the light of life
That brings diversity
In natural community
The gathering compassion
That thrives
In tune with changing circumstance
In place of strife



Alan Rayner

Alan Rayner is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist, who is pioneering the philosophy of natural inclusion