Space is a fascinating thing. It is considered the most subtle fundamental “element” or building block of the world in many traditions around the world. Some suggest that all experiences are encoded in space as the akashic records.
We could call space the container into which all form arises. But at the same time, form can also be described as vibrating space. As I noted in Foundations, the stages are “sound/vibration, direction/geometry, subtle fields, gross fields and form. Consider fields as structured energy following geometry.”
That vibration is the stuff of space. Before vibrating sound (Air element) is space. Geometry/subtle fields are fire, gross fields; water, and form; earth.
But from whence comes space? As I’ve noted here before, space is an effect of self-aware consciousness. The elemental dynamics that follow are increasingly focused and localized self-interacting dynamics of consciousness.
To explain, consciousness has 2 fundamental qualities – liveliness and alertness. It is liveliness that stirs alertness to make it conscious. Consciousness then flows within itself. In flowing, it curves back on itself and thus becomes self-aware. And that awareness, looking back on itself, creates a subtle space.
To illustrate this, you can hold your hands 6″ or so apart and have them face each other. Awareness facing itself, with a space between. This is the fundamental dynamic of all experience. It is the origin of the observer, the process of experience, and all form – the objects of experience. If we’re energy-aware, we can even feel interactive dynamics between our hands.
To understand this properly, though, we have to add a little more complexity.
In our creation, there are several values of space, one nested within the other.
The first value of space is in global self-awareness. It is known as chit-akasha (conscious space). This is the space into which creation arises. The forms of creation are quite subtle and external to our universe.
Within this space arises a large number of universes. Essentially, a universe is a more localized space arising from a more concrete focus of attention. From the outside, it’s like a bubble of space (self-awareness) within the larger space of creation. For scale, they are like pearls on a necklace of Brahma, the creator aspect.
Within the universe-space is the universe itself, seen from the outside. It is called hiranya garbha or the golden egg in the Vedic literature.
And within the universe is the space of the universe itself. What we call “outer space”, containing the galaxies and so forth. This space isn’t nested the same way though. It’s more like a projection than a nested bubble. And that relates to its nature as maya.
Note how each space is boundless infinity within itself. Also note that the appearance and active laws of nature in each space is different. Physical forms only arise in the universe. The forms of higher space are progressively more subtle.
Vedanta describes these 3 primary spaces as Bhutakasha, Chittakasha and Chitakasha, basically elemental (physical) space, mind-space (Universe), and consciousness-space.
We can also note that because everything arises within the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness, every object exists in its own bubble of awareness. This is why the geometry and field effects – because the dynamics are contained. If we are closely identified with our own body-mind (as most people are), we will experience a distinct personal space and reality. How localized we are will determine how common our reality is with others. The more the inertia (tamas), the more divided our experience, and the more real and rigid the surface world. The more we associate with others and come “out of ourselves”, the larger the space we associate with.
We can also define various conceptual associations as having their own space, like nationality, race, profession, community, and so forth. This is generally called “group consciousness”. Space is in consciousness.
In the past, I’ve spoken of the 3 Mayas. “The dream of the person in the dream of the universe, in the dream of God [Lila] or creation.” Each space has its appearance or dream. In some ways, transcending each dream corresponds to the stages of enlightenment. (In this case: CC, GC, Unity) Then we transcend even consciousness itself.
Some try to describe the influence of higher values of space by adding more dimensions to physical space. But as I discussed in How Many Dimensions, that basic approach is flawed. We also have to remember that 3D space is a conceptual way to map openness. In true space, “up” and “front” are entirely relative to the observer. 3D is a mapping convention using a cube. R. Buckminster Fuller described space as 4D in his Synergetics series, based on the tetrahedron. Another way of mapping it.
From the highest space, there is only one space. It is the space of our own awareness. It is inclusive of all, beyond imagination. And you contain all of it because you are the container. And more.