Space and substance

From what I can tell, there are two fundamental ways in which the primal energy of creation expresses its existence: there is substance, which is manifested/focused energy, and there is space, which is unmanifested/diffuse energy. These two ways do not oppose each other, since they are simply different forms of the same thing, but they do display different qualities as shown in the following description of the essential qualities of each and their corresponding counterparts:

Substance: Manifested-Matter-Changing-Moving-Conditional-Temporal-Local-Earth-Tension-Contraction-Form-Pattern-Partial-Incomplete-Finite

Space: Unmanifested-Spirit-Unchanging-Still-Unconditional-Timeless-Universal-Heaven-Release-Expansion-Formless-Unpatterned-Whole-Complete-Infinite

The life that we know takes place largely in the former. All spiritual paths share a common search for the latter.

For anything to exist, it must exist as a specific entity with a defined identity, and hence be subject to limits, categories, dualisms, etc. Nothing infinite (all-space) or eternal (all-time) exists in the world that we perceive with the senses. All worldly things come from the latter category, from the unlimited timeless abundant energy which we call by many names: God, the universe, Spirit, and so on, and they come into the world as limited, specific things – “ornaments of being” if you will – that are incomplete in the sense that they never embody the whole picture but only a piece of it.

What gives rise to the world we see? It is focused energy, shaped by patterns and rules. Like the ebb and flow of waves on the ocean, things come into being and take shape, hold a pattern for a while, and then dissolve and return to the infinite source of all. Existence is made possible due to the rhythm between substance and space, as shown in the dimensions of time and space. Rhythm in time can be seen in the rising and setting of the sun, in a human heartbeat, in our breath, in the rise and fall of empires, ideas, and cultural trends, and of course in music. Rhythm in space can be seen in the distance between galaxies, solar systems and planets, between continents and between cities, in the mathematical relationships which govern the physical world, in the distance between atoms, molecules and cells, and in the visual arts. Physical exercise has a rhythm, with the contraction and expansion of muscles, the pulse and breath. The mind too alternates between periods of thought and periods of rest.

For spiritual and mental health, it is important for us to regularly connect with the unlimited energy from which all limited forms, including ourselves, come into being. Connecting with this energy doesn’t mean we merge completely with it and become infinite by renouncing our earthly selves; it just means creating space by clearing obstacles in our life so that we can sense the power and clarity of space. With a sustained clear direct connection – accessible through meditation and training of the mind – we can draw upon the limitless healing energy of space and renew our spirit so that we can re-enter daily life refreshed and ready to face the tasks which await us. Space speaks to us if we can learn to calm the mind and body, and with few words can point us in the right direction along our evolutionary path.

One of the biggest misconceptions held in modern Western society is the idea that space is really ‘void’ of any value or energy; that it is nothing, it is impotent and powerless. Equally misguided is the emphasis placed on concrete tangible substance, to which we assign a disproportionately high value. So-called ’empty’ space is truly potent; its power is not yet manifested. It gives rise to all creation, and creation eventually dissolves and returns to emptiness. This is the great alternating current of creation: space and substance, emptiness and form. This simple rhythm is played out on all levels, in every part of the universe, for eternity. The great mystery of creation is that all polarities display an underlying unity, rising and sinking, growing and shrinking, building and collapsing, like an energy pendulum.

We seem, at least those of us in the Western world, to fill up the time and space in our lives with a lot of distracting clutter. Perhaps part of the motivation for doing this is to avoid ‘the void’ that would occur if we were to experience first-hand a vacant dark space or unstructured time. Yet from those spaces seems to come the possibility of the most inspired insights, visions, lessons, ideas, and messages, all of which are accessible to us. To clear your physical space, get rid of unnecessary clutter, keep your home clean and simple, and focus on quality rather than quantity. To clear your temporal space, don’t overcommit yourself to too many tasks, take periods of rest throughout the day, meditate, and take a day of rest once in a while. While there is still much struggle among people in many parts of the world to secure the basic material needs, for most of us in the developed world the challenge we face is not how to create more substance, but how to create more space.

Is all spiritual inquiry a search for that which does not change? And if so, then are our ongoing investigations of the patterns and rules of the universe through science also just another way of searching for God? Is science the outward path while religion/spirituality/psychology is the inward path?


~ by spiritualseeker1 on November 16, 2011.

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