Imagine for a moment all of the space, air, light around us. You are walking down a street, sitting in the building you work in, or watching TV in a room. Around you is what you perceive as space. In your mind, you understand the space to be outside of you. As if all of the openness in the world exists in some kind of open pasture or meadow, or in some great expanse stretching out in front of you for miles and miles. When I was 19, I distinctly remember driving down a highway in western Nebraska near Scottsbluff, the sky filled with a bright blue sky and dotted with clouds. The road appeared miles in front of me as if I could actually see the horizon. Complete spaciousness. I remember stopping the car on the side of the road and just being in that spaciousness….wishing I was the spaciousness I perceived.
In the Uttaratantra Shastra, I read a passage that brought to mind the whole idea of spaciousness. Simply put, we perceive spaciousness outside of ourselves, when, in fact, the spaciousness is a part of us entirely. In our dualistic minds, we imagine that to be spacious we have to be in that meadow or field or witnessing that open sky before us. In fact, we are as spacious as that sky above us.
I raise this idea in the context of my busy, deluded mind, trying to make sense of the world around me. Nothing seems to make any sense. Donald Trump is president, assault weapons are not banned worldwide, I suffered through a traumatic event, a friend died from a disease he did not know he had, and on and on. My guess is that you could add to the list. A list that might reach forever pretty quickly.
And yet, spaciousness. That we are, in fact, one with all things. That there is no distance between who we are and who we are sitting next to…AND that there is no space between us, at all while at the same time existing in this space and time.
Do those two ideas work together? No space between us and spaciousness? For those who have been lucky enough to achieve a state of being, the mind opens to the spaciousness I’m talking about; that the spaciousness is within us as well as outside of us…or, rather, it is all one. Using that idea, that we are one with spaciousness, then we are also one with each other….a kind of interconnected, unified spaciousness that we all exist in. It’s remarkable.
When trying to overcome my fear and self-loathing, I sit with that fundamental idea: that I am spacious, that my mind is open and expansive. There is no separate me or separation between in here (mind) and out there. Similarly, there is no difference between my suffering, pain, anguish, happiness, love and anyone else’s. My suffering and their suffering is the same in the sense that it’s all suffering. I reach out, in my mind, to those people who are struggling and offer to take on that suffering in the hope that they can find happiness. In that moment, there is no space between us. We are not separated by space or time; we are there, together. We are all together…laughing, hurting, feeling, and wondering when it will all end. What we have between us is the shared experience the wonder of the moment and the chance to help heal our wounds.
That, to me, is what being spacious means.