Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been posting excerpts from our upcoming book on our three-part foundation for forging a successful and balanced life: structure, sweetness, and space. First, I explained how sweetness can be scheduled liberally into our lives, and how we can infuse it into otherwise mundane tasks and settings to elevate them – and ourselves. Next, I explained how structure is vital in healthy change and accomplishment, and it’s the means by which sweetness becomes integrated into every day. Finally, there’s space, the hardest thing for people to recognize and value, and the most essential for the fullest awakening of a human soul.
Space is the crucible in which sweetness and structure interact to yield a life that feels inspired, meaningful, and fun. Space is where we connect to Spirit. Space is where we find ourselves. In space we can come to understand our shadow and learn the depths of our potential. Space is where we listen – not to our media, our voice, or our own thoughts, but to the silence that holds it all, to the Truth that’s tapping on the window of our consciousness. Alignment and healing can’t occur without the openness that space provides. Insight and creativity are possible only with space. Sweetness needs space in order to be rooted in authenticity and to penetrate, engage, and feed the deepest parts of ourselves. Structure needs space for perspective; it doesn’t breathe without space.
Many traditions have a term equating to space – as the “emptiness” from which everything is born. In Daoism, it is called Wuji, the limitless, boundless, or most literally, the non-polar. That is, it’s where our expanded consciousness resides, which isn’t polarized, doesn’t need to take a position, and is simply open. In Buddhism, it is Sunyata – emptiness, openness, or spaciousness – the space in which the soul is unconfined by the mind. In Ayurveda, it is Akasha – space or ether – the origin and essence of the entire material world.
A related term in ancient Chinese philosophy is Tian, meaning heavens or sky. In Daoist cosmology, there are three realms of existence – the heavenly realm above us (tian), the earthly realm below us (di), and the human realm between, where we blend the qualities of heavens and earth and live in the dynamic swirl between these poles. The heavenly realm is considered to be the domain of pure Yang – the creative force and the intangible spiritual origin of everything. And the earthly realm is considered the domain of pure Yin – of substance and form. The ancient glyph for earth was three stacked broken horizontal lines:
As you can see, the breaks in the three lines form a sort of vertical trough in the middle. The quintessential character of the earthly realm is receptive, and this opening in the earth indicates that it’s a vessel – a vessel to receive and hold the spiritual qualities of the heavenly realm. This is how “heaven on earth” occurs – by our making space in ourselves, to be vessels for the truth of our vast undifferentiated awareness.
When we make space in our consciousness, there’s a place for answers and intuition to come in. I’ve attempted to conceptualize this in the diagram below:
Besides the expansion that space enables in us, there’s another great reason to make space a priority: it’s the antithesis and solution to our addiction to the data stream that dominates our lives and attaches us to our devices. All the time we spend plugged in to the massive flow of information and ideas, we’re disconnected from the magic of the natural world around us. Even though we know in our hearts that there’s nothing more precious than the space in which we discover what we’re connected to, we’ve made some pretty deep agreements with our mind to let it run the show, and that means working hard to fill every possible bit of space. Minds don’t like space.
So, this week, I encourage you to strike a compromise with your mind. Ask it to take a break for a while, and promise it that you’ll give it some really juicy reading or a Sudoku later. Then go be. And say hi to space for me.
Dr. Peter Borten