"That space is God in which everything arises and dissolves." ~Upanishads
Religion conditions us to believe that the path is long, the goal is distant, and God is far beyond this place, this moment. But the truth is, we live in a vast trick of perception whose punchline is right here and now. What we've been seeking is this, always this.1.
Long before any New Age teaching, the ancient Upanishads declared, "Know This to be That which you are seeking." Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is here in the midst of you." The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas gives us this version: "The kingdom is poured out over the whole earth, but men do not see it."
What if the Divine is space itself? What if space is awake, as pure consciousness?
Here is a dictum from the great mystics of the Western tradition, attributed variously to St. Augustine, Giordano Bruno, or Pascal, but originally found in the Hermetic sayings of 3rd Century Egypt: "God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere."
This is a thought-experiment for contemplating the divinity of space. The revelation that space is awake is so self-evident yet so stunning, that it strikes our awareness like the trumpet of the Last Judgment, calling us to the only temple that remains: the Temple of the Here and Now. We enter this temple the moment when we simply give up the search.
Space is awake, even when nobody's here. Space was awake before we were born into it, and into that Space our consciousness will one day dissolve. We generally use space as a means to an end, a vessel to be filled with our busy-ness. But what if space is an end in itself?
Look at any street in America and you see people furiously intent on getting somewhere. They move through space without enjoyment, assuming that it is an abstraction, a nowhere they must move through in order to get somewhere. But imagine if people actually awoke to the divine fullness of empty space. Imagine if we moved in awakened space, not to arrive anywhere, but simply to enjoy the dance through stillness.
We might rest our attention in the voluptuous softness of space itself, tasting the all-pervading bliss of mere Presence.
Space is the beginning and the end. This living stillness awaited you at your birth, and surrounds you at your death, womb to womb, never born. Even in the midst of the battle, a healing silence surrounds you, the tranquility of awakened space.2.
Space is no-thing, yet the source of creation. The opening of Genesis tells us: "In the beginning... the earth was formless and void." But the Biblical text makes it clear that this void is alive with energy, a churning oceanic intelligence, vibrant with breathings of Spirit, the living womb from which light shines. For in that vibrant space before creation, "the Spirit-breath of God was stirring the waters."
The opening passage of Genesis reflects, in poetic form, the revelations of quantum physics. Matter arises from an apparent vacuum, yet the vacuum is a rippling continuum entangling virtual photons and electrons as waves of pure mathematical intelligence. The void is alive with possibility. The vacuum of pure space is the un-created mind of God. Space is awake.
Space is a hologram, at every infinitesimal point containing all the information in the cosmos. A bindhu of pure space, tinier than a quark in the nucleus of an atom, bursts with virtual worlds and galaxies. Yet the womb of space remains ever-virgin, transcendent, immaterial, awakened clarity.
This "ground state" of energy, or "zero point" of the quantum vacuum, is Mother Divine. In the words of the 2nd Century Christian Gnostic, Valentinus, "The true Virgin Mother is mystical eternal silence."
Space is awake as consciousness itself. And when we are awake as space, mere emptiness overflows with self-nourishment.The very transparency of space sparkles as a kind of self-luminous food. This is the secret of abundance: the wealth of your birthright is all around you as pure awakened space. Space is the invisible cornucopia of creativity. Abstract space can generate whatever has form or substance, from the tiniest sub-nuclear particle to the vastest sun.
This is why great mystics love the desert. Space awakens us from the torpor of materialism. We stop deluding ourselves with the notion that consciousness is the effect of chemical interactions in the brain. Truly, at the subtlest level of quarks and gluons inside the supposedly "solid" proton, every particle of every chemical in the brain is born from the field of a prior pure consciousness. Consciousness was already there before the brain.
Consciousness is the cause of matter, not the effect. Awareness was here before the body was conceived. Brain, nerves and molecules are composed from waves of awakened space.
The limitless vacuum of space beyond the galaxies saturates each atom of your body. Fundamental particles of matter are no-thing but blessedly unbalanced mathematical equations suspended in the mind of an infinite zero. Creation tumbles out of that zero as mathematical symmetries seek balance. Blessed is the calculus of our stumbling particles, because if those equations every factored themselves back to zero, the whole universe would dissolve into a cipher, an empty circle. So let us enjoy the dance of space, these waves of emptiness playing in the ocean of the void, as a marvelous unsolved mathematical mystery. Because the mystery is unsolved, there is wonder. Because there is wonder, there is a world.
In the words of Sir James Jeans, one of the founders of quantum physics, this world is "made from pure intelligence." Jeans also said, "God loves to do geometry," which is a paraphrase of Plato.
Max Planck, another founder of modern physics, said that "mind is the matrix of matter." Likewise their colleague, Sir Arthur Eddington, wrote: "All through the material world runs the stuff of our own consciousness... the stuff of the world is mind-stuff."
Where can we find this cosmic stuffing? Far above? Deep within? In another dimension? Will it require lifetimes to reach? These questions are answered when all our seeking simply falls away, and we embrace the spaciousness of our own attention. The stuff of our consciousness is empty space, and the stuff of space is consciousness.
The 12th Century Christian mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, wrote that "God hugs you; you are enfolded in the arms of the mystery." We are like fish searching for water, surrounded by a miracle so self-evident we just don't notice. Therefor, the deepest form of worship is simply to awaken where we are. The beginning and end of spiritual practice is to rest as pure awakened space.4.
Opening our attention to the nature of space is the essential practice of all the world's wisdom traditions, once we strip away their mythological and religious imagery. Could there be any plainer path than becoming aware of space?
Pure space can nourish, heal, and re-create us. Awakened space is imbued with all the attributes of God. Someday, human civilization will derive infinite free energy directly from fluctuations of the vacuum in empty space.
Why not open your attention to the Great Space within you, around you, to the left and right, above and below? Then open your attention to that same vastness within each cell of your body. And now, become aware of this unboundedness in every atom, every photon of flesh... Here is the purest meditation, requiring no visualization or effort, because it is the sparkling naked awareness of what we are actually made of.5.
Then we notice a fact so obvious that it shakes the earth, yet so near we have overlooked it. Awareness OF infinite space IS infinite space. We are not only aware OF space, but As space. Space as subject creates its own object in itself, dynamically Self-aware. And this dynamic pulse between awareness and awareness is the impulse that creates the universe.
Space is one, yet as awakened space pulsates as two. All created worlds of perception become possible when space as subject knows itself as object. This is a perpetual oscillation from subject to object in the continuum of the empty void. The void ceaselessly explodes into the polarity of consciousness and matter, yet consciousness and matter are made of one Self-radiance.
And this is why the awakened space of deep meditation can heal and re-energize the body. Space is not only our awareness, it is every particle of our nervous system. To become truly aware of space is re-creation.
The ego-mind rebels against such a spontaneous and obvious revelation. Mind wants to attain something, to climb a ladder, to work its way from level to level, plane to plane, initiation to initiation. Ego wants to say, "I have been meditating for thirty years, and you have only been doing it for one minute. I have attained level 12, the highest initiation. You'll get here some day if you keep working at it," or some such nonsense. This is the mirage of seeking, the illusion of a journey. The illusion that there is a "path" playfully appears as a trick in the pathless wilderness of space.6.
To delight in emptiness is too graceful for the mind: not enough drama, not enough quest. Here is the joke. The only thing preventing our realization of divine space right now is the thought that, "this is too easy."
No circumstance can limit our practice of spaciousness, since space is not affected by its content. We can enjoy this Sabbath rest wherever we are. We do not find Sabbath rest in the content of this moment, but in the space that contains whatever is happening. The riot on an urban sidewalk and the green glen by a forest pond are both but momentary configurations of the same fundamental particles, appearing and dissolving in precisely the same space. Every battle surrounded by a stillness...
Because space is awake, there is an easy natural way to find liberation this very instant, wherever you are. Ever so gently shift your attention from the content of the moment to the space that contains it. Did you hear?
Ever so gently shift your attention from the content of the moment to the space that contains it.
Ironically, this salvific shift occurs by grace in some of the most violent and terrible events. In the midst of a crash, a traumatic accident, an act of war or sudden violence, so many survivors recall how they experienced a deep peace, a time-stopping stillness, surrounding the trauma. For many people, this is their first taste of spiritual Presence. Life, even in its most challenging moments, reveals its secret source!
We only need to taste spaciousness for an instant, in a one-moment meditation. This meditation is not an escape, for it enlivens our readiness to respond. It is the purest response-ability, and it can happen during our busy work day. Take one moment to rest as awareness, even if there is chaos around you. In this brief Sabbath rest is recreation. If the Sabbath can happen every seven days, it can happen every seven hours, every seven minutes, every seven seconds. Each Sabbath moment is filled with eternity.
Allow this Sabbath moment often throughout your day, and gradually its inner stillness will pervade all your actions. The day will come when the spaciousness of eternity outshines the content of any moment.
As awakened space, we remain thoroughly IN the world, but not OF the world. It is important to add that the realization of space is redemptive; you do it for others as well as yourself. Your space bestows a blessing on all who dwell in it.
Therefor it is impossible to awaken space for yourself alone. The space awakening within you is also the space around you. Your awakened space becomes available to others. This is how the practice of awakening space becomes our deeper work, no matter what else we do. By awakening space, you become a a healing presence in the world.
We might close by briefly observing how this universal practice of awakened space reveals itself in the world's great wisdom traditions.8.
AWAKENED SPACE IN THE VEDIC TRADITION: The ancient rishis of India called this space, Sat-Chit-Ananda: Truth-Consciousness-Bliss. Later Hindu priests populated this space with gods and goddesses. But gods and goddesses are just waves in space, energy potentials in the vacuum, just like you and me.
A god or a me arises as a ripple in the ocean of awareness. A ripple of me only exists in relation to a ripple of you. Each of these ripples is made of one and the same space. And each wave, while individualized at its peak, is the whole ocean at its base. Hence all of us, gods and mortals, are but one Great Space playing as many relative points of view. Indian philosophy starkly states that this 'atman,' the individual soul, is nothing but 'Brahman,' the eternal space of God. We are each other.
AWAKENED SPACE IN BUDDHISM: Gautama the Buddha taught this same truth in a different way. He wiped away all gods, goddesses and separate souls, reminding us that we are all mere empty space: "sunya." But this emptiness is alive as "bodhi chitta," which literally means "awakened consciousness." Western scholars misinterpret Buddha's teaching as nihilism, regarding emptiness as a negation. But "sunya"is a living emptiness that purifies and regenerates. Emptiness pulsates with positive energy, the energy of creation.
AWAKENED SPACE IN JUDAISM: Jewish mystics call the emptiness of awakened space, "ayin," which in Hebrew means no-thing. The mystical Jewish vision of God is "Ayin Soph Or." "Soph" means point, "or" means light. "Ayin Soph Or" may be translated as pointless light, or the dimensionless point of light. It is self-luminous space without any permanent point of view. The light of creation ("Or ha'Olam") emanates from the darkness of "ayin." Thus, as we have seen, the Hebrew creation story in Genesis 1 actually describes the foundations of quantum physics: material particles vibrating in waves from the cosmic no-thing of the vacuum.
AWAKENED SPACE IN CHRISTIANITY: Christian mystics personified the emptiness of awakened space as a Virgin Mother engendering the Word or Logos. The Logos is the seed of the material universe existing as pure thought before manifesting as matter. Christian theology insisted that creation is born out of nothing: "ex nihilo." In Christian contemplative prayer, we return to the creative silence that was there before God said, "Let there be light." Medieval mystics named such deep interior prayer, "the cloud of Unknowing." They called their practice the negative way: "Via Negativa." The deepest form of Christian contemplation was "apophatic" rather than "cataphatic" prayer. In Greek, this means "without form" as opposed to "with form." These mystics realized God as awakened space in radiant emptiness. They called God "the divine darkness."
In Christian meditation, we rest in a stillness where no images arise. This seems like nothing, because it is so empty and dark. But in our Sabbath rest from the work of thought, we discover that the Mother of God is within us, nearer than our own mind, as the womb of awareness. All creation is born from her silence as the light of Christ, the Word of God. It is this divine Logos who becomes sacred matter: "the Word made flesh."
AWAKENED SPACE NOW: Churches, temples and mosques exist for one purpose - to awaken space in our cluttered lives. Those wisdom-traditions who remember this will survive. Those who clutter their space with dogmas and creeds will not.
A New Age teacher may call this awakened space "cosmic consciousness." A Yogi may use the Sanskrit term, "samadhi." The Christian might use a Biblical term such as, "the peace which passeth all understanding." A Buddhist may call it, "Buddha-nature," and a Zen Buddhist might even call it "no-mind." The name we give to awakened space makes no difference at all. Indeed, some of us discover that when we try to name it, we aren't in it any more!
Awakened space is a practice, not a philosophical concept. Thinking about it has no value, since pure awakened space is not a thought. It is the pure consciousness from which thoughts arise. You cannot think awakened space because you are awakened space. So don't philosophize about it: just rest there as the radiant silence you are, beyond name and concept. We cannot measure the ocean in our little cup of thought. Throw the cup into the sea. Then dive in after it with your whole body!
Does this mean that we must suppress thoughts, or attempt to push thoughts out of awareness? Not at all. Such misguided practices only give us a headache. Simply realize that awakened space is always already here, even when the mind is cluttered with thoughts. Then quit grasping. Because our thoughts are all made of awakened space, just as a mirage is made of the still sky.
Awakened space pervades our thinking, dreaming, and deep sleep; our action and our rest; our words and our listening; our breath, our blood, our bones. Before the question even arises, awakened space is the answer.
Space is awake. She has no opposite. She welcomes all beliefs, religions, and points of view. Boundless, untainted, transparent, She is within you, and you are within her. She is the womb of creation. Awakened space enfolds your deepest fear and your bitterest pain, your coming in and going out. Her nature is compassion.
Return to the great Mother of awakened space for energy, for peace, and for the milk of perfect joy. You don't even have to believe. Just rest.
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih