My Imagined Commencement Speech

06/23/2015 08:42 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016


The time of year has recently ended when prestigious speakers are appearing on various college campuses to give the traditional commencement speech. This time of year always makes me wonder what I would say if I were asked to give the commencement address at a college or university.

Could I be more inspirational than Oprah or funnier than Jim Carrey? How could I offer insightful commentary like Arianna Huffington, Denzel Washington, Tom Brokaw, and many others? Could I inspire the graduates to know that they truly are the rising leaders of our world? What would I say to let them know that our future is in their hands? How could I paint a picture to portray that they must think big and be the change that they want to see in the world?

These are the questions that run through my mind...

The conclusion of many of these speeches is that time spent with family and friends, time spent on the less beaten path and/or time devoted to what you truly wish to do, is more important than the money you accumulate or the deals that you may strike in your lifetime.

After playing my speech out mentally I always come to the same conclusion--I have nothing original to say. So, why not just speak about "nothing"? No one has spoken about "nothing" except maybe Jerry Seinfeld doing his show about "nothing"! I am not saying here that I would not do the speech...because I would. I actually find "nothing" to be a very powerful topic.

What would I say about "nothing" you ask?

I would start my speech with the usual introductions, "Mr. President, Board of Trustees, faculty, proud parents, and most of all, the graduating class of 2015. Today I am going to talk to you about... nothing!

In nothing exists the secret of the universe. In nothing is the secret of everything--an empty, yet percolating field of imagination and creativity. Nothing is the blank paper from where all poems and stories emerge. Nothing is the basis of the empty canvas--where form and color take shape. Nothing is the silence where a symphony of sound emerges to fill our hearts and minds.

It is from within the nothingness of the hollow seed where flowers, trees, fruits, and vegetables spring forth. From nothing all of our creativity rises to write meaningful poems, paint beautiful paintings, and compose harmonious melodies.

If nothing is the basis of all that lives and grows, then nothing is a field of infinite creativity and possibilities. Progress in theoretical physics during the past decade describes this concept in its unified field theory based on the superstring. Even cutting-edge research in the field of neuroscience has revealed what is called a 'unified field of consciousness'.

This unified field of consciousness or nothingness is also that one place that unites us all-- where we are all equal, coherent, and at peace. This field is a unifying force--the force of love. Being nothing, or empty, is like the wind; it is everywhere. Tapping into this unifying force is tapping into our essence of pure unbounded love.

At every moment, this field of nothingness is available to us and creates from within itself the play and display of the entire universe. If we can access the level of lively nothingness, we will imbibe all possibilities and tap into the source of infinite creative intelligence. So, am I saying that nothing is actually a field of infinite intelligence? Yes, precisely!

Everyone has this field of nothingness inside. Inside each one of us exists a field of purity, peace and silence; this is the simplest level of our own Being. We can directly experience this field by taking the time, 20 minutes, twice a day to naturally dive within ourselves through the practice of meditation. I practice Transcendental Meditation (TM), which I find is an effortless technique to help me transcend any surface level thoughts and stresses. With TM I access these greater depths of peace, purity and creativity.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used to say, "Do less and accomplish more, do nothing and accomplish everything." My understanding of what he meant by this statement is that when we tend to the deepest level of our Being everything else comes to fruition more naturally, more effortlessly.

My wish today is that you all directly experience the power of which I am speaking within yourselves. Maybe one day I will hear your commencement speech expressing a personal version of this sentiment to the youth of your time.

May you all experience nothing, and gain absolutely everything!

2015-06-09-1433883824-4690697-AnnPurcell.jpgAnn Purcell is an author and has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. In addition, she has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment was released on March 13, 2015