Emptiness as the source
The absolute emptiness of space is the ground of existence. It is the source of all energies in potential form. They are energies which have not been activated. The earth and the atmosphere around the earth contain so many energies. And beyond the orbit of the earth there are all the planets and stars and galaxies. Beyond even that is the emptiness of the akasha. All is contained in the emptiness of akasha. It contains the cosmos. The emptiness of the akasha contains the infinite universes. It is both the source and sustainer of all that is. So if you want to talk about the essence of the cosmos, it is this emptiness akasha as formlessness and contentlessness that is the source.
There are so many unseen energies in the orbit of the earth. But akasha as the emptiness is without the dance of the energies or particularisation. It is like the tree in the seed. You can look at the seed through a magnifying glass but you won’t find any tree there. Yet out of it comes a tree.
Your own body as the microcosm of the cosmos is condensed cosmos. So in the same way you may reach into that space within, that emptiness of the akasha which is beyond the dance of the particularised energies. You penetrate beyond the matter and energies contained in the body and brain and your thoughts and feelings until you reach the inner space that is emptiness. Then you find that the cosmic space and the inner space are really one and the same thing. The space within the cosmos and the space within the body are in constant communion. Once you arrive there you are in communion with the emptiness of space which is the container of all energies and all intelligence. You are in communion with the real.
Emptiness is not empty
The emptiness of space is the essence of life. It is the emptiness that holds all of life together. When we talk about emptiness however we do not mean a void. It is not the absence of energies. Rather it is the condensation or the concentration of all energies that are possibly imaginable.
The emptiness of space or akasha is not a void. Emptiness does not mean an absence of energy. Rather it is a state of condensed, undivided, particularization-free energy. It is only in the manifestation of sound as the first principle of manifestation that the unparticularized wholeness takes the form of the particular. You might think of the emptiness of akasha as a wave form. It has no shape or form and yet the various vibrations of energies with their particularizations come out of that.
The emptiness is the supreme intelligence. Out of the emptiness of space which is akasha the first manifestation of life and intelligence is the principle of sound. Out of sound comes the next expression which is fire. Fire manifests two principles that of light and motion (prana). Motion creates heat and when it combines with light, there is water. And from water comes earth and from earth all living beings and what we call life. Sound is the holistic or background energy that permeates the entire universe. The particularizations themselves do not fragment the sound principle. The sound that is created and heard is born of friction. But this background sound that permeates the universe is holistic and non-fragmented. It is a non-divided and non-particularized sound. It is only with further particularization that the solidification of form occurs. The manifestation of light and motion/prana or heat are still in a nebulous form.
Out of prana comes water which cannot be nebulous. Water has fluidity and therefore volume so it is not nebulous. It has a current. The unseen motion principle that was present in prana now becomes manifest. Water has an articulate sound. You can hear it in the movement of the rain falling, the river flowing and the ocean waves. So now we can say the sound that was before mute is now articulate. At the most subtle level sound is purely and absolutely vibrational. It is inaccessible to the ear and imperceptible to the eyes. At the level of prana, again it is like the movement of electricity or the magnetic field. It cannot be directly detected by the senses. But when it takes on the fluidity of water it becomes perceptible. So in water you see the sound, the motion and the light. It is accessible to the senses. From water emerges the principle of earth. Earth is the further solidification of sound. Not only is earth perceptible and audible but it is also tangible. You can directly engage with it through the senses.
The essence which is the emptiness of space containing the intelligence remains there intact and undivided despite the layers of particularization that have taken place through the transformations that have taken it from sound through to the solidity of the earth. If that intelligence energy did not remain intact then then life would be inanimate. The whole planetary lifecycle of growth of vegetation and the emergence of foodstuffs that allow the whole of animate life to exist could not arise. But that intelligence that manifests itself through the inter-relationship of the principles remains absolutely intact and undivided in itself. The particularization that takes place never causes the intelligence of the emptiness to become fragmented. So the entire manifest cosmos appears out of the emptiness but the emptiness always remains exactly as it is. And so it is said in the Isha Upanishad, though the whole cosmos emerges out of the wholeness of the emptiness, the wholeness of the emptiness remains whole and so does the wholeness of the cosmos.
These principles of relationship as described in relation to the cosmos as the macrocosm are mirrored exactly in the human body as the microcosm. All that emerges from the emptiness returns to it. All that is created progressively merges back. The vitality of life returns to where it had emerged from. So each of the principles that have given form to the body one day return back in the reverse order. The principle of earth goes back to water. Water goes back to heat and heat to sound and sound to the emptiness of akasha.
What is being indicated is the circular movement of the cosmos. There is no break. There is no destruction. There is no such thing as death just the transformation of forms one thing into another. There is just the constant emerging and merging back. The dance of innumerable energies. That is why it was called the dance of Shiva. Shiva is auspicious and it is an auspicious dance. It is the dance of life. The dance of auspicious energies manifesting through the cosmos.
It is the emptiness of space as the real which is the source of life and creation. It is the real which has decorated itself with the forms of the cosmos. All the forms and all possible shapes, colours, fragrances and tastes emerge from the formless emptiness. And the first manifestation of form as matter is sound. Sound contains prana. It is the potential for movement. The sound energy contains light. It is the source of the life force on the cosmic level as well as in all living beings.
The sound energy is something that is not imaginary. The sound waves that are in and around you and emanate from you are a kind of very subtle matter. These sound waves envelop you. So when these subtle sound waves that you generate are in harmony with the OM principle, when you are singing OM, they create a certain invisible envelope around you that makes you immune to the negative energies of disorder and division. And when are you singing OM? You are singing OM when you are rooted in the emptiness of the space within you. So wherever you go the harmonized sound energy of OM which resonates with the prana is like a protective shield around you protecting you from the chaotic energies around you in the world.
When the sound and prana energies in the body are in harmony there is a holistic resonance of the cosmic energies. This interplay of energies has a healing effect. And when life is healed through these energies there is the glow of health. Health is the result of living holistically in balance and harmony with the cosmos.
If there are pressures and conflicts endlessly running through your brain, this will exhaust you. And then you will lose your footing and so you can’t be rooted in the emptiness at the source of your being. OM is this deep connectedness to the emptiness of space within as the akasha. Your life has to have a certain orderliness so that the human body as the instrument for the expression of cosmic energy can operate properly. If you love life then you will appreciate and respect this human form which is the expression of life. The spiritual life cannot be lived or discovered independent of the instrument of the human form. Reality is not separate from it. Microcosm and macrocosm are not separate. There is no dichotomy between the two.
Just like the two ends of a line are joined in the line, the human being and the cosmos are joined. They may appear to be distinct but they are not. We are not parts of the cosmos but living expressions of the cosmos, of the whole of the cosmic energy.
The inner space
To be truly alive is to be grounded in the awareness of the real which is emptiness or no-thingness. This no-thingness is not a god or some being located in some heaven or paradise. It is the majestic no-thingness. It is emptiness. Those who make the emptiness within as the abode of their consciousness are blessed. Living in and from the emptiness of space within is called meditation. This has no method, no technique, no system and no structure.
To be rooted or grounded in the inner space or inner emptiness is to live in the state of meditation. And so all the movements of life are held together in unity. It is to live without internal contradiction. Then the actions of mind and body are not in contradiction. The thoughts and emotions contained in the consciousness are in harmony with and do not contradict the energy of love and kindness that is contained in the intelligence of the emptiness.
Form is emptiness
The essence of existence is akasha, which is the space that is beyond the orbits of all the suns and planets put together. This space is the source of life. The source and the essence are one and the same. The source is avyakta or the unmanifested and the essence is vyakta or the manifested. So essence is manifested source and the source is unmanifested essence. That is the relationship between vyakta and avyakta. The manifest and the unmanifest are one and the same. Everything appears out of the emptiness of space and everything merges back.
Duality and non-duality
Let’s consider the relationship between the unmanifest source and the manifest cosmos. What is the nature of the relationship between emptiness and form? What is the relationship between the source and the essence of life? Is emptiness the cause of creation? Is the cosmos the effect?
Cause becomes effect and so requires some process of becoming. You take milk and add culture and you get yoghurt. So there is some sort of process going on that requires time to play out. It is a relationship born of the sequence of time in which a process takes place. But the incredible and mysterious fact about life is that the source is simultaneously the essence of life. Between the unmanifest and the manifest there is no process taking place. The source does not become the essence. The unmanifest does not become the manifest. There is simultaneity. In the midst of duality there is non-duality since non-duality is the substance of duality. The underlying reality of cosmic life is this wholeness of undividedness that is the real.
The manifest is the only door through which you can reach the unmanifest. The non-dual can only be entered by way of the dual by seeing the non-dual in the dual. What we are talking about is simultaneity as opposed to sequence. Beingness rather than becoming. The non-dual is only found by seeing it in the dual. The thread of oneness is woven into the fabric and texture of multiplicity.
If one has deeply understood and absorbed this principle of simultaneity which is the mysterious relationship between emptiness and form and between the source and the cosmos then non-duality is no longer a theory or an idea but it becomes the very substance of your being. If this permeates and saturates deeply into every cell in your body and your being then there is no longer a fear of life. When the disquiet or trepidation about life falls away then there is peace in your inner being.
The qualification for the silence of meditation is inner peace. When all the anxieties about your existence fall away then there’s the spaciousness of peace within. Once you have understood the nature of life and reality and the principle of simultaneity then there is no longer the possibility of getting disturbed by the vicissitudes of life. The challenges that you face are met as part of the game of life. There might be pleasure or pain, successes or failures but because one is no longer measuring and one is rooted in the inner silence of peace it is all simply what it is.
The test of the depth of one’s understanding is always in the living. The composure when one is alone or in physical isolation is meaningless. The inner peace and silence if it is real must be in the movement of life, in the midst of relationship. Only then does it have the perfume of reality. If one’s conduct is arrogant or self-centred or lacks gentleness, truthfulness or kindness then one simply hasn’t understood. The inner state is always reflected in the outer activity of living. When the knowledge or understanding is separate from the everyday relationships of living then it is not true understanding. It is only theory.
The difficulty with modern civilization is that there are so many books and reams of endless information. You can read books and they can become the source of knowledge and understanding. But when the knowledge is received cerebrally it remains merely on the level of ideas and theory. If the content of it is not lived then it is not converted into reality. So once you have understood, let there be the energy and desire to live the understanding. Only then will it permeate your being and become manifest in your living and your daily life.