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The mystery of space

In so many ways, we take the physical body as foundational, whether we are avowed materialists or not.

Even if we don’t reduce everything to it, we can think of the physical body as the chalice in which our life energies, our feelings, thoughts, intuitions and consciousness are held. We surely notice the physical body, as it makes itself obvious enough, while everything else about us remains basically invisible. It is in the physical body where we feel our most direct sense of separation and difference.

What is amazing is that, if you close your eyes and sense deeply into your body, letting go of all in an emotional way as well as mentally, your beliefs and assumptions about the body and space, and coming into this moment’s direct sensory experience, you will discover that this sensorium has no direct boundaries and opens out into the spacious, the unbounded, and essentially into the infinite. It is similar to space itself not having any final boundary, but this is directly experienced beyond concepts. This experience goes beyond separation, even while it is experienced through the sense of embodiment rather than transcending the body.

Now enter into this space, not as a geometer or a physicist might understand it, but as an entering directly into this raw mystery of spaciousness. How is it that such a vast mystery is right at hand and we completely overlooked it? In a word, we were in a trance of conventional, constructed reality, the familiar everyday reality in which we were not awake to or aware of this mystery. How is that possible, you wonder? That itself is part of the mystery.

As much as the physical body seemed obviously foundational, now it is space and the awesome mystery of space that makes itself obvious as foundational. We can also open into the imperturbable peace of space as foundational. Whatever arises, however chaotic or violent, space abides in its own peace and is completely undisturbed. In a sense, we can say that it is completely indifferent to whatever arises. But in another sense, everything arises within this space as an expression of space, a modification of space, not ultimately other than space.

We can sense that space is the primary mystery, for it is the space in which all things and experiences arise and disappear. We might think that physical objects arise in physical space, that emotional content arises in emotional space, that mental content arises in mental space, but the primary space we’re talking about here is what all of this and more arises in. It is all happening at once and together, as we say, “moment to moment,” in a mystery that is essentially unfathomable. We might say that this space is consciousness, or our very self or being, or divinity, but eventually we exhaust our words and meanings and enter into the wordless, mindless reality that we are calling the mystery.

Stay with this openness to space through the deep grounding in the body, and then let the mind open into its expanse, let the heart open and let the living energy field open into its expanse. Let everything open into the vastness, the mystery, the oneness embracing all the variety, differences and particularities.

And who are you in this? Who is looking out through these eyes? Who is sensing in this body? Who is hearing the sounds? It is that very space itself, what we can call the space of being, looking into itself with awareness and amazement.

This space is not merely nothing, and yet what is it? We might say, “extension,” but of what? It is not mere nothing, and yet it is not a something either.

We are not talking about a concept because concepts are “about” something else that is somewhere else. But we are talking about what is present here and now, this very mystery that you would ordinarily describe in the most familiar of terms. Nothing has to change, and yet in opening awareness, everything has changed.

Ed Hirsch offers free weekly presence gatherings at the Ashland library Guanajuato Room from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays. All are welcome on a drop-in basis. There we deepen into presence with music and have time for personal reflection with Q&A. For information, email presenceofone@yahoo.com. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.