The Void

The Void

The ancients talked of fundamental elements whose combination lead to the forms and phenomena we see around us. For example, fire element brings light, sight, colour, heat, and so forth. The elements have associations with the senses, the chakras, and the doshas (body types) of Ayurveda. We can also associate them with the valence groups of chemistry.

Deepest of the 5 elements is space or ether. Space is more a container than a substance. And yet space behaves like a medium, hence the name ether. We see a similar idea in physics where space-time is modeled as a flexible sheet. However, it’s really consciousness that’s the medium of space. Consciousness being aware of itself causes the container. In its own self recognition, a subtle distinction arises that we experience as space.

We can notice this by looking into the eyes of someone with presence. We can see the Self in their eyes, the same Self I am. And yet it’s “over there” looking back at us. There is a subtle distance or space in which there is a lively flow of recognition moving within itself. The dynamics of consciousness are right there on the surface of experience.

This is the medium from which all experience arises.

We can also see consciousness behaves somewhat like an ocean. On the surface it is lively with waves and change. As we go deeper within, there are currents, flows. Deeper still, it becomes still and dark and can seem more empty.


Yet consciousness is nested, aware of itself at every point within itself. As a result, space is also nested. There are bubbles of space at every scale, infinities within infinities, stepping down to the level of stars, planets, small objects and subatomic particles.

We can say every object sits in a bubble of self-aware space. Objects are made of other smaller objects, each with their own bubble. And objects sit in larger and larger, more inclusive bubbles. It’s like a foam of awareness except it’s all transparent.

We generally experience space as outside of ourselves and around us. The space in the room, the space of the open sky, the space between us mentioned above.

When we turn within and go beyond the mind, we can experience pure space. Or even deeper, the consciousness within which space arises.

For most of us, this inner experience of space first shows up as a vast, dark, unknown emptiness. For a child or an ego that wants to be in control, this can be scary. We may even have an aversion to it.

But as we refine perception, the distinctions within become more clear. That open space takes on a liveliness. Consciousness is recognized to be effulgent, glowing with inner light. We can experience a profound sense of still being, of I Am. Also a lively happiness.

That effulgence is not coming from consciousness but rather through consciousness. The light behind consciousness is Divinity. As we come closer and cleaner to it, the Divine becomes more obvious.

We don’t experience alive space as emptiness but rather as fullness. It is a field of infinite possibilities and a play of divine intelligence. Inner space is rich and full and satisfying. It is the true Self.


Last Updated on July 11, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. Michael

    Hi David!

    Yes, a field of infinite possibilities…..that is the wording i use! 🙂 ….yes, even though it is so clear (i use crystal clear) it is also full.

    “That effulgence is not coming from consciousness but rather through consciousness. The light behind consciousness is Divinity. As we come closer and cleaner to it, the Divine becomes more obvious.”

    i was contemplating that! And your writting made it more clear. I was “thinking” about the luminousity of the crystal clearness and came to the inner conclusion that it must come from the divine beyond it. Great that you mentioned that!


    1. Hi Michael
      Agreed. Keeping in mind though – consciousness filters that light of Divinity into qualities, then details. Thus one has to go beyond consciousness to know the light of pure Divinity.

      And yet, here is Divinity right on the surface. Visual light is well-removed from source and yet its nature and capacity originate from it. Even in these words on a screen.

  2. Dr. Andreas Ullrich

    Hi David! Namaste!

    How does “perception” beyond the 5 senses (astral and physical) take place? Is it a sort of “seeing”, “feeling”, “hearing” beyond the senses? Can “buddhi” hear, feel and see by itself? Can the atman in Hridayam hear, see and feel without any “sheaths”?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Andreas
      The answer to your opening question is somewhat complex as the mechanism varies a bit on each level. It’s not a seeing beyond the senses but rather a seeing unbound by the limits of the physical sense organs.

      In Indian philosophy, the mind is generally seen as the source of the senses but I’d say it’s more the processor of sensory information. There are subtle sense organs near the physical ones but to really understand, we have to come back to consciousness.

      Consciousness is the source and medium of all experience. We have the experiencer, the object of experience, and the process of experience. The last is the one we’re usually least aware of and the real source of sensing.

      Essentially, the flow of attention is aware of qualities enlivened in the object of perception. Thus consciousness itself, and everything arising from it, can sense the qualities of what its attention lands on. Depending on how clear and awake the various channels are, we can sense on multiple levels.

      Why 5 senses? Actually, there’s 7. But this thread is turning into a whole article so I’ll break away here and explore further in a new post. 🙂

    2. On your other questions, the short answer is Yes to all. But to clarify a little, Buddhi is a function, not an entity that senses. It is the discriminator. There is beings that manage this functionality and have senses but they should not be confused with the function itself. This is the same as with Roses. There are plant devas that manage roses but they are not roses themselves. Sometimes people personalize functions and muddle them together. Even Buddhi has to be discriminated. 🙂

      But yes, consciousness can sense on that level or kosha. Most commonly, you hear people talking about “sacred geometry”, relationship, and underlying structure when talking about this kosha.

      The way I use the term, Atman is the universal Self so is the same in all beings. Atman is consciousness itself so it senses as described previously. It itself is a sheath, although thats not widely recognized as this is not known until Brahman stage.

      Update: I was a little limited on Hridayam – editing to be more inclusive. But yes, the heart senses on all levels. One one level, it is physical, on another level, its associated with the heart chakra which is associated with the same level as the intellect and it has that discriminating ability. It’s also the fulcrum between the universal chakras and the local ones. On another level, it resides in the bliss kosha as our universe. On another level, it has a direct connection to Divinity. The higher functions are not very linear.

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