"That space is God in which everything arises and dissolves." ~Upanishads
Our religion conditions us to believe that the path is long, the goal is distant, and God is far beyond this place, far after this moment. But the truth is, we live in a vast trick of perception whose punchline is This! We are what we've been seeking.
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?
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 an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." It 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 present moment. We enter this temple 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 we 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 fulfillment, and an end in itself?
Look at any street in America and you see people furiously intent on getting someplace else. They rush through space unconsciously, assuming that space is an abstraction, a nowhere filled with distance that they must overcome in order to go somewhere.
But imagine if we awoke to the divine fullness in the height, the depth, the breadth of emptiness. Imagine if we moved through awakened space, not to arrive anywhere, but simply to enjoy the dance?
Just for a moment, rest your attention in the voluptuous softness of space itself. Taste the all-pervading bliss of mere Presence.
The Goddess, Shakti, is She who softens space around you, and fills emptiness with gentle golden light. The inner softness of space itself is her body.
Space is the beginning and the end. This living stillness awaited us at our birth, and will surround us at our death, womb to womb, never born. Even in the midst of the battle, a healing silence envelops us, wider than any cry of pain. Even when we are falling, we are at rest in the tranquility of awakened space.* * *
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 the 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 empty vacuum is a rippling continuum entangled with virtual photons and electrons - waves of pure mathematical probability. The void is alive with the possible. Space is awake.
The hologram of awakened space contains, at every infinitesimal point, all the information in the cosmos. A bindhu, a dimensionless point of pure space, tinier than a quark in the nucleus of an atom, bursts with virtual worlds. Yet the womb of space remains ever-virgin, transcendent, immaterial.
This ground-state of energy, this 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."
Awakened space is not only conscious, but consciousness itself. When we awaken as space, existence becomes truly interesting! Emptiness overflows with self-nourishment. The very transparency of space sparkles as a kind of self-luminous food. Here is why mystics and saints were content with nothing: in that no-thing they actually experienced abundance!
This is the secret: there is no lack. Wealth is all around you in emptiness. Pure space is an invisible cornucopia of creativity that can generate any form or substance, from the tiniest sub-nuclear particle to the vastest sun. You have inherited unlimited wealth just by existing in space.
Mystics love desert solitude because empty space awakens us from the torpor and clutter of materialism. In the wilderness, we stop deluding ourselves with the notion that consciousness is the effect of chemical interactions in the brain. At the subtlest level of quarks and gluons inside the supposedly "solid" proton, every particle of our physiology is born from vast awakened space. Pure intelligence was here before the brain.
Consciousness is the cause of matter, not the effect. Our bodies condensed out of awareness. Brain, nerves, molecules are all composed from waves of awakened space.
The limitless vacuum beyond the stars saturates each atom of your flesh. 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 asymmetry seeks re-balance. O glorious mistake! O sacred imperfection!
Blessed be the calculus of our stumbling particles, because if those equations ever factored themselves back to perfect symmetry, the whole universe would dissolve into the empty circle. Let us enjoy this dance of space, these waves of emptiness playing in the ocean of the void, as a marvelous unsolved equation. Because the mystery is unsolved, there is wonder. Because there is wonder, there is creation.
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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," 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 the world 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. The deepest form of worship is simply to breathe the space we are. The beginning and end of spiritual practice is to rest as pure awakened space.* * *
There is no need to go elsewhere to find nourishment, healing, and creativity. All is contained in the very space around us, the very space pervading our atoms. Self-awakened space vibrates with every attribute of God, and resonates with every name of God. This is true "physically" as well as "spiritually." Someday our civilization will derive infinite free energy directly from fluctuations in the vacuum of empty space.
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Here is the purest meditation, requiring no visualization or effort: the naked sparkling awareness of what already is! Just open your attention to the Great Space within you, around you, to the left and right, above and below. Now see this same vastness within each cell of your body, in every atom, in every photon of your flesh...
This is the ineluctable truth so obvious and immediate that it shakes the universe. Your awareness of space is space. You are unbounded and all-pervading.
As Self-Awareness, the subject becomes its own object in itself, as itself. This dynamic pulse between subject and object within pure awareness, gives birth to space. Consciousness creates space through its own pulse of awakening.* * *
Consciousness is one, yet as awakened space, it pulsates as two. All created worlds of perception become possible when space as subject knows itself as object. There 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 mind rebels against such a spontaneous revelation of the obvious. 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. I have attained level seven, the highest initiation. You'll get here some day if you keep working at it." This is the mirage of seeking, the illusion of a journey. The illusion of a "path" playfully appears as a trick in the pathless wilderness of space.* * *
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 repose wherever we are. We do not find rest in the content of this moment, for the content, as form, is ever changing. But we repose in the space of the moment itself, the space that contains whatever is happening. What happens changes, but the space is changeless and eternal.
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 is surrounded by a stillness...
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Because space is awake, there is an easy natural way to find liberation this instant, wherever you are. Ever so gently shift your attention from the content of the moment to the space that contains it. This bears repeating:
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. Surely, this happens at the moment of our death...
We only need to taste this spaciousness for an instant, a one-moment meditation. This meditation is not an escape, for it enlivens our readiness to respond, making us truly response-able. And it can happen during our busy work day.* * *
Just rest as awareness, even if there is chaos around you. In this brief Sabbath rest is re-creation. If the Sabbath can happen every seven days, it can surely happen now. Each Sabbath moment is filled with eternity.
Let it be repeated: Rest as awareness, even if there is chaos around you. Allow this momentary Sabbath to happen often throughout your day. Gradually an inner stillness will pervade all your actions. The time will come when the spaciousness of eternity outshines the fleeting content of the moment.
Awakening space is redemptive. As awakened space, we remain thoroughly in the world, though not of the world. We awaken space for others as well as ourselves.* * *
You cannot awaken for yourself alone. The space within you is also the space around you. Your awakening becomes available to others. Your space resonates blessing to all who dwell in it. This is how the practice of awakening space becomes your deeper work, no matter what else you are doing. By awakening space, you become a healing presence in the world.