Thursday, October 6, 2022

WHERE NOTHING IS EVERYTHING – The Sacredness of the Spaces Between

In Nature, as in life, we can see more if we notice not just things, but the spaces between things; not just sounds, but the silences they frame.
Far from empty, these inhalations in the song of creation are what make each note so clear, so sweet.

From Under the Wild Ginger – A Simple Guide to the Wisdom of Wonder, by Jeffrey Willius

I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring 2005 book, A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. I’d been aware of the elfin spiritual guru’s Zen-like teachings for many years, and have watched several of his interviews about spiritual evolution and the path toward ego-less consciousness. (I also enjoy actor/comedian Jim Carrey’s unlikely musings about his own Tolle-inspired take on life.)

Revisiting Tolle has piqued my interest in better understanding and articulating my own spiritual beliefs, especially where they align with his on the concept of space.

I’ve written in these pages many times about the metaphysical significance of space. How to find it amongst the phalanx of responsibilities and stimuli that press in on us every day. How Nature can help provide that space.

         It’s all just story, whose true setting
         is invariably in the past or the future,
         neither of which even exists.


I love the way Tolle delineates the realms of ego and higher consciousness. Ego, he says, comprises all the thoughts, feelings and even experiences that seem to define our lives. Higher consciousness, our true essence, our Being is everything else. It’s like this invisible—yet somehow perfectly beautiful—vessel, which exists both everywhere and nowhere.

While the ego feeds on stuff—Tolle calls it “content”—that comes and goes through that space, it’s all just story, whose true setting is invariably in the past or the future, neither of which, he asserts, even exists.

Content—like emotion, accomplishment, personality or pain—though the ego wants desperately to glom onto it, inevitably comes and goes. Our self-actualization depends on our ability to let it do so while realizing that it has nothing to do with who we really are. 

         Though I often hear people describe their
         ultimate happy place in terms of fullness,
         I experience mine as a divine void.

I love this notion of space being the essence of awareness. It feels like the central truth in which I’ve always known my personal spirituality is grounded. It explains perfectly why, though I often hear people describe their spiritual happy place in terms of fullness, I experience mine as a divine void. It’s why, for example, I find the “moment of silence” sometimes offered in services of prayer and remembrance so powerful.

It explains all kinds of notions human beings find hard to comprehend, but which I know somewhere deep inside to be true. Like how one reality might reside just a membrane’s thickness away from its opposite. Like the seeming mirror images of the immense and infinitesimal. Or how there’s no such thing as a straight line—since they all eventually end up at the same place they started.

That timeless, placeless, formless expanse in which those truths reside sounds a lot like what many spiritual traditions would call God.

                                             ~            ~             ~    

                                SIDEBAR: There’s Nothing To You
In case you had any doubt about the relative importance of matter and space in the Universe, consider this: If one could remove all of the empty space contained in and around every atom in every person on planet Earth and compress us all together, the overall volume of our particles would amount to something roughly the size of a sugar cube! *  **

* “The Volume of Humanity – If All the Space In Our Atoms Is Removed” By Phil Plait, SYFY Wire, Oct. 29, 2018

** Of course, this compression can only happen theoretically. Since the position of atoms in most solids is determined by what’s called wave function, they are about as close together as the laws of physics allow.