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.