One of the ways people describe spiritual experiences sometimes, even as a quality of awakening, is with words like the void, the emptiness or boundless space or cosmos.
They may associate this with “source” but this is somewhat mistaken. This open space is just that – space. It is the subtle space created by self-aware consciousness. We could say consciousness is the container of this space or void. Thus the void is not the source.
In other words, the person has come to the space in which the world we experience arises. But they have not actually come to the source of that, just the space created by it. We could say the space of the container is recognized but not the container itself.
At this point, space is still a subtle form of object. We have not yet recognized the subject, the knower of the space. First, we begin to recognize that which is noticing the space. And then, Consciousness wakes up to itself as the local knower, this point value of consciousness experiencing here. This is true Self Realization. We recognize we are the knower of the space.
It’s usually later, from a broader perspective, that we notice the container quality of consciousness.
The edge of this space as consciousness / being is a liveliness we experience as bliss, pure happiness. That’s a key marker for when we step beyond space into the container itself, into pure awareness without content.
As pure consciousness is without object, there is nothing to experience and it may well not be noticed as itself at first. More perhaps as a gap in experiencing. Some may call this deeper gap a void in experience, but this is not the same thing as an experiential void. If it’s being experienced, it is an object, space.
As we transcend all form into pure being, typically through a meditation practice, we cross the threshold. Thus we may notice a wave of bliss on the way in or on the way out. This becomes an early marker for periods of samadhi or pure consciousness.
As this becomes clearer and longer, we may notice periods of just being in silence, and then that the breath stops during such episodes. Clearer still and we notice the lungs shift from “breath” into a fine vibration and the body is deeply settled. Research demonstrates that such periods can go from part of a minute up to half an hour and more. This not only deeply suffuses us in being, it roasts the seeds of karma, greatly reducing our former debt.
Notice a small detail about this, indicating integration. The person is able to sit in deep silence of being without content, yet at the same time they are able to notice the body has stopped breathing. At first, this noticing may pop us right out of the silence. But over time, we are able to notice without disturbing the peace.
Why is this significant? Self Realization is essentially being awake to the Self within while concurrently engaging in activity. It is being in a perpetual samadhi. Thus culturing the physiology to be able to support that is key groundwork. And this is the value of a meditation that brings you into the silence.