We are trapped in mental structures which influence how we think and perceive. Perhaps in meditation, perhaps in prayer, can I catch an insight into another way of perceiving that comes from a less limited frame of mind?
Let me try to show you what I mean. This is only a thought experiment but perhaps it will help.
I identify with the solid bits of the universe. I have a material body and I think of myself as living in a material world (thank you Madonna). What are the consequences of this assumption? Space is empty and solids occupy space. Dimension is a clever way of accommodating things so they do not overlap. So, identifying myself as solid, I treat space as just a physical dimension where I am separate and occupy my own space.
Separation establishes the need for movement and movement creates duration or time. Time is a clever way of making sure that not everything happens at once.
Within dimension and time, there are events. The only events that I recognize are in dimension and time. Otherwise, they are not real. When events occur within time, one follows another. I try to decide if the event that comes first causes the event that comes after. I also perceive that events begin and end. Can I see the eternal, the unchanging? Can I see possibilities that do not occupy time and space? Probably not. .
The consequence of identifying with physical reality is that I may lose access to qualities that are formless. My sensory apparatus links to my brain and displays what I see and sense. Who experiences this neurological data? Is it the brain? Scientists search for the correct brain structure, meanwhile confusing perception and content. There is a quality of perceiving that is independent of what is perceived. Have you noticed this? Have you observed that perceiving is not ‘located’? That it seems to exist in space?
In a similar way, where is attention? Is it in the brain? Attention intimately connects me to what it attends to even over distance. Does it defy the separation of space?
Where is the presence of my presence in the present? The state when I am present clearly has a spacious, non-physical quality. Can I find in me a place for the experience of love? Yes, love has physical effects but is it contained in my nervous system? Is it only a sensation?
How does the universe appear from the perspective of space? Can I identify myself as space? Do I contain infinite possibilities which are no less real than the ones that are expressed out of my ‘emptiness’ into the tiny bit of me that has taken ‘form’? Is there distance, or just ‘more’ of myself? Is there time, or just an eternal present where all the events that ever did, are or will happen(ing) are here and now? Perhaps space is where miracles occur but we only know this when we enter the realm of the miraculous.
From the perspective of space, the universe of a trillion galaxies spanning trillions of light years may be of no definite ‘size’ whatsoever. Without my conceptions of space and time from the physical world, how would I know?
According to the current findings of physics, every region of space is awash with different kinds of fields composed of waves of varying lengths. Each wave has energy. When physicists calculate the minimum amount of energy a wave can possess, they find that every cubic centimeter of empty space contains more energy than the total energy of all the matter in the known universe.
Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum not a vacuum, the ground for the existence of every single thing. The physical universe is not separate from this cosmic sea of energy; it is a ripple on its surface, a comparatively small “pattern of excitation” in the midst of an unimaginably vast ocean. “This excitation pattern is relatively autonomous and gives rise to approximately recurrent, stable and separable projections into a three-dimensional explicate order of manifestation,” states Physicist David Bohm.
In other words, despite its apparent materiality and enormous size, the physical universe does not exist in and of itself, but is the surface of something far more ineffable, a passing shadow over the face of the deep.
Have you thought about how it is possible for this world to exist? Oh, we are told the story of the big bang and evolution over billions of years. Really? This may explain a process but it tells us nothing of how anything can be, how there can be a big bang to begin with. Can you hold this question and not fill in the blanks or turn away in boredom because the question is unanswerable? If you can do this, you may receive the electric being-shock that confirms: we do not know our origin or purpose and the fact of our existence is an absolute miracle.