Space is not just a container of reality but an integral aspect of it. If the physical universe is expanding, it is not that matter is expanding into pre-existing space, but rather that it is creating more space through its expansion. Time is not just a means by which we measure the progress of existence, from the past to the present and the future. Time is the very process of life itself: it is the continuum through which life unfolds its potential and manifests its purpose. Time and space are not actually separate aspects of reality. They are unified, and, in unison, they form what is called ‘space-time,’ which is the living, moving fabric of existence.
The concept of space-time is at the core of Einstein’s special theory of relativity, and it was Einstein’s former mathematics professor, Hermann Minkowski, who first coined this term. According to special relativity, space has three dimensions and time has one dimension. They combine to create a four-dimensional reality. So here, space and time are interdependent, and we can isolate them only in our imagination, not in reality. Time is influencing space, and space is influencing time. And they are both affected by gravity. Any event in the universe is not only temporal but also spatial, and vice versa.
Our two previous articles have focused on the subjects of the real space and real time of the inner realm. Now, we can go one step further and begin to perceive them as a single unified entity and, spiritually speaking, as the basic environment of consciousness in samadhi. The space-time continuum in samadhi is ruled by different laws than those of the physical universe, because unlike the outer world, the inner world of samadhi is embedded in pure subjectivity and consciousness. Here, time and space are not outside of the experiencer, for he is no longer an unaffected ‘observer’ of a scientific experiment. He has merged with the experience and become one with reality.
How, then, is space-time experienced in pure subjectivity? Pure subjectivity is our very existence, which is experienced in separation from our perception of both objects and the mind. However, not all experiences of expansion beyond the ordinary mind can be regarded as pure subjectivity. Any state beyond the mind (assuming it is a real state and not just an accidental energy condition) must be embodied by the light of me before it can qualify as pure subjectivity. For instance, one can reach absorption in being and fail to realize it as pure subjectivity if pure me of being remains unawakened, or one can experience a shift into awareness, or even into pure consciousness, without the accompanying realization of pure subjectivity. How can one experience pure consciousness without awakening pure me if, by its very definition, pure consciousness is a unity of pure me and I am? This can happen when the depth of the state is awakened energetically but not existentially. Without awakening to me, there is simply no pure subjectivity.
Pure subjectivity is a combination of the inner space-time continuum and consciousness, a unity of identity and recognition. Real space and real time provide the spatial and temporal environment for me to exist and continue its evolution. However, what complicates the real space-time continuum is the fact that it exists on two levels, individual and universal, and these two dimensions are in a synergistic relationship. The space-time continuum of pure individuality is in a relationship of surrender with the space-time continuum of the universal absolute reality, and it is being pulled down by its gravity. For these two dimensions of space-time to be in a tangible connection, we must first enter samadhi or, at the very least, experience a certain requisite level of absorption in the vertical dimension. If not, the individual space-time continuum (together with its consciousness) will simply have no access to the universal space-time continuum, and the existence of the latter will remain purely speculative.
Before elaborating further on the intricate relationship between individual and universal space-time, we must have clarity on why universal reality is called pure subjectivity if it is not ‘me’? Even though our teaching does have a concept of ‘universal me’, that identity is only realized when the universal is embodied by the individual (pure me embodies I am to become universal me). Universal reality itself has no me. It is a unique dimension of subjectivity, which in this teaching is called ‘I am.’ What is I am, and in what way does it differ from me? If you could imagine a state of me that is one hundred percent devoid of self-reference of any kind – that would give you a sense what I am is. I am is an absolutely impersonal me, and because of this impersonality, it cannot be called me. However, it retains a fundamental feature of me – subjectivity. In short, universal reality is impersonal subjectivity.
One of the gravest errors of non-dual paths has been to assume that we must transform from me into I am. This error is so fundamental that it can be described as a spiritual crime against the very purpose of our existence. We must reach unity with I am, but we are not destined to become it by annihilating our me. Through our evolution, we are achieving more than just returning to our original state of universal existence, like the prodigal son returning home after his sinful life in ignorance. We are not merely surrendering to universal reality to dissolve. We are merging with it, and in doing so, illuminating it with the light of me. Because the light of me is so precious, it would be a huge mistake to aim at complete depersonalization. We do need to go beyond self-reference and self-consciousness, but this is not achieved by eliminating these faculties, rather it is achieved by rendering them transparent so they can be transformed into pure knowing, the very essence of the light of me.
To attempt to understand or even speculate about the nature of universal reality is as difficult as trying to dream up theories about what lies beyond a black hole, or what may exist beyond the boundaries of the known physical universe. These questions cannot be answered by the mind, only through exploring our own evolution. Our me has to begin the inner space-time travel into the beyond to discover and map for itself these uncharted territories. Traditionally, the universal has been viewed as just a single state that we must reach and establish a sameness of identity with in order to attain liberation. This kind of thinking is very simplistic. Its simplicity is, in a way, analogous to how Aristotle attempted to understand reality through ‘pure thought’ without having the foundation of a deep knowledge of physics.
Aristotle painted a picture of a very simple reality, one which satisfied his own mind and those of his contemporaries. The problem with his picture was that it was not entirely true. He thought that the earth, although round, was stationary. The sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars were supposed to move in circular orbits about the earth, for Aristotle believed the earth to be the center of the universe (what is known as the geocentric model). Aristotle was influenced by his teacher Plato, and the geocentric model was later elaborated on by Ptolemy, who, based on his observations of the planets, found some inconsistencies that he could not explain (as long as the earth continued to be considered stationary). However, even then, he did not conclude that the geocentric model was false. Much later, Copernicus proposed a radical and, to the then Christian establishment, heretical hypothesis that the sun was stationary while the earth moves around it (the heliocentric model). This revelation was then expanded upon by Galileo and Kepler. And that was the beginning of the end for the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic cosmologies.
Looking at the vision of spiritual reality painted by what are generally considered to be the most evolved traditions, there are some striking similarities to these early thinkers. Both attempted to explain the nature of reality without having the proper experimental tools, and both lacked the ability to transcend ordinary logic. The only difference is that science has never stopped evolving, while spirituality remains stuck in the past. For instance, we could say that Ramana Maharshi’s vision of the inner reality is Aristotelian, in the sense that he used classical Advaita texts as models that are based on a simplistic vision of reality (not unlike the Aristotelian stationary earth). Similarly, Nisargadhatta Maharaj’s endeavors to deepen the static vision of Advaita could be seen as analogous to Ptolemaic’s limited development of the geocentric modal.
Not only have spiritual traditions and masters not come close to the spiritual equivalent of general relativity or a quantum physics, they have not even approached that level of sophistication in their understanding. They refused to question the traditional models on which they based their assumptions and interpreted their own spiritual experiences. While some acknowledged their individual presence within awakening, they did not speak of the higher duality of the relationship between individual and universal, nor did they elaborate on the potential for a more complete multidimensional enlightenment. Effectively, they adhered to outdated models of the inner universe.
To understand the inner reality, we must evolve into it experientially. But even this is not enough if we fail to develop the higher conceptual tools which allow us to grasp the subtle dimensions of pure subjectivity. Being able to differentiate between the light of me and the light of I am, between individual subjectivity and universal subjectivity, is indispensable to any real understanding of the inner realm. Without such tools, conceptual distinctions, all our efforts to understand will be futile – a sheer waste of time.
To recap: there are two dimensions of space-time coexisting in the realm of pure subjectivity. Individual subjectivity is surrendering into the universal subjectivity, while the universal exerts the force of gravity upon the individual, pulling it into the beyond. For that gravity to exert its force fully on the soul, we need to enter the state of absence. Otherwise, that force either will not reach us or its pull will be too weak to affect the energy state of the individual space-time continuum. There is a point at which the gravity of the source begins to work directly on the soul. If the doorway to absence were imagined as a black hole, the boundary between the dimensions of presence and absence would be what in physics they call ‘event horizon’. The event horizon in spirituality is the point of no return (to the realm of presence), because the gravity of the black hole (absence) is simply too strong to let anything, even light, come out of it.
What is the real nature of the relationship between the individual and universal space-time continuums? The merging of these two space-time continuums can be seen as an event which effectively creates a new and synergistic (or mutually beneficial) space-time continuum made up of them both, but in which each retains its identity, much like the earth and the moon, while being inextricably linked. When we enter absence and attain a condition of free fall, we become one with the receding gravity of the source. Our soul is in a conscious relationship with the absolute, so our free fall is not simply passive; it is not just the momentum of inertia. Not only is our soul conscious that she is in free fall (natural surrender), but she is constantly meeting and recognizing the beyond through the light of her me. In addition to this, through her intention, she can accelerate her surrender (which is then, in turn, matched by higher speeds of the receding source of gravity). In this journey, our soul is expanding into the beyond, and thus is expanding her space-time continuum. This could be seen as being similar to the universe expanding its boundaries into the infinite, where matter creates new space through expansion. The difference in the inner journey is that, on one level, the soul is expanding (or ‘inpanding’) into the universal’s pre-existing anti-space of absence, but on another level she is also creating a new space, an individualized, universal space-time continuum.
From the standpoint of ignorance and suffering, the purpose of spiritual unfoldment is to return home and to transcend the limitations inherent to the state of forgetfulness. But our soul sees a much bigger picture. The goal of her evolution is not merely to transcend ignorance, but to expand into the infinity of the universal self.
Our soul is an adventurer in time, space, consciousness, intelligence, and love. She lives only because she evolves. She knows that to stop evolving is to defy the nature of time and of the light of me. She knows that to stop evolving is to die, which she refuses to do because she is none other than life incarnated. The soul lives in the universal space-time continuum, which is the living substance of the transcendental light through which she awakens a conscious relationship with her creator. She is in the space-time river of continuous and never-ending discovery of the mystery of creation, a divine traveler into the heart of the beloved.
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