In the center of hell is emptiness. It’s what hell accumulated around. Oddly enough all that torment and suffering is so you don’t go wandering into the emptiness by accident. Or if you do, the suffering acts like one of those ladders at the side of a swimming pool. This way out.
Perhaps you’ve fallen into it once or twice yourself? In which case you know what it feels like—nothing at all. Very unpleasant to anyone who exists. Compared to that, any sense of fear or hopelessness or shame is a step up. At least you’re feeling something.
Meanwhile most of us live lives that keep us out of hell as much of the time as possible. We lead good lives, or really good lives of total over-accomplishment, or find a compulsive behavior that can carry us faithfully, or mix and match. Our lives keep us out of hell—most of the time—the way hell keeps us out of the emptiness: most of the time.
And if you deliberately (and carefully) seek out the emptiness and begin sitting with it, what then? The old legends say that when this occurs hell loses much of its purpose and downsizes considerably. Drinking becomes less charming, as does overwork. And the terrible drive to be the person people want to be with eases up, and the one you really are comes forward to say hello and enjoy the cool evening breeze.