Inner space

"Space does not exist; it must be created." Alberto Giacometti

Inner space

Just as there is a physical, material, measurable space, filled with objects and living beings, colours and sounds, so there is a psychic, immaterial space, filled with images, ideas, memories, fantasies, projects. The latter is not measured in terms of distance or weight, but in terms of intensity, strength and energy.

There is also a spiritual space, underlying the other two. This is distinguished by the fact that it is not perceptible by the senses or by the emotional or mental faculties. It escapes any measure of form or intensity.

These three “spaces” co-exist; they overlap and interpenetrate. Whether you are receptive to one of them more than the others depends on the quality of your consciousness, its affinity with that particular space. This space becomes the privileged home of your consciousness, the place where it “dwells” most of the time.

The spiritual space we are talking about here is different from the familiar material and psychic spaces, in the same way that the weave of a tapestry differs from the patterns and colours appearing on the tapestry, although it is intimately related to them. Spiritual space is fundamental, essential, pre-existent to any material or immaterial manifestation. It is in this space that objects and beings, thoughts and emotions move, consciously or not. It is also in him that they appear and then disappear. It is the creator and destroyer of everything.

How can we perceive what is fundamental, essential? How can we get in touch with what we sense to be the essence of life and consciousness? Does such a ‘thing’ exist, by the way, or is it still just another speculation, a pure conceptual ideal, an inconsistent dream?

Imagine that you enter a flat on a second floor. The floor is littered with so many objects that you can no longer see it or set foot on it. You walk as best you can over the heap of miscellaneous objects; you pass from one room to another, but it is the same thing everywhere, the same spectacle, the same difficult and unstable walk. Are you going to doubt the presence of a floor, a ground, even though it is invisible to you? Will you think that the multitude of accumulated objects is holding itself up, as if in a magical state of weightlessness that would prevent it from collapsing on the heads of the neighbours below? No, of course not: You know there is a floor (a concrete slab or whatever); it’s just very cluttered.

The same is true of consciousness: The foundation of your consciousness, its essence prior to thoughts, concepts, images, words, is not obvious and clear to you because the space of your consciousness itself is cluttered, saturated with memories and affects, happy events and traumas, opinions and interpretations, certainties and doubts. These conceptual ‘objects’ and images have been piled up unknowingly throughout your life, during your pleasant or painful experiences. Added to this are the impressions, concepts and images of your ancestors, your culture, your race, your possible religion, all those things that you share with millions of other people who also carry them; all those things that are centuries, even millennia old.

Then comes a crucial moment, a critical moment, when all this psycho-mental junk weighs on you, yes, becomes unbearable; a moment of saturation when you can’t seem to breathe or live with it anymore. Then the question of the original “ground”, of the very essence of consciousness, arises for you and within you. It arises, accompanied by an immense, intense desire for liberation, for space.

What will you do then? It’s simple, it’s obvious: You’re going to grab one by one the objects piled up in the first room, and get rid of them, until the floor of the whole flat becomes visible again, cleared. As you do this, the first objects that will come into view are the ones most recently brought to you by life’s events and situations, those that sit at the very top of the pile. Then, little by little, as you clear the room, older objects, long buried under the junk, will come to light. Sometimes you’ll have to untangle several of them, all of which are firmly intertwined. For all this, you will need patience and perseverance, and above all, you will need to keep alive and intact the flame of this powerful desire that has pushed you to undertake this formidable inner work. This will be your “fuel” throughout the process.

This process of clearing memories is also a gigantic inventory; it leads you to discover very consciously all the residues, the waste that the experiences you have gone through have deposited in you. You no longer suffer them passively: You grasp them, recognise them, and so you get rid of them in all lucidity. This process of “cleaning”, of decluttering, has a name: self-knowledge. We can only remove from our being, from our life, that which we have recognised in the full light of consciousness. What remains hidden remains in its place and acts (or rather, makes us act!) without our knowledge.

As your inner work of aknowledgement and neutralisation progresses, the space within you becomes larger, freer, brighter. Things, events, situations, become clearer, simpler, more serene too. Your burning desire, which was smouldering under the ashes of habituation, springs up like a joyful flame, and your strength increases.

The last objects still lying on the ground (or rather, the first sedimentary layers) are the oldest. They are heavy, rusty or worm-eaten; their evacuation is slow, delicate. Fortunately, your energy is released as the soil gradually appears. Something emanates from it: A pure force, an unspeakable beauty, the realisation of your deepest desire for inner life and light.

You gradually ‘lose’, albeit voluntarily and consciously, all those psycho-mental objects that constituted your identity, your ego. This new situation is uncomfortable and destabilising. But the reclaimed space, and the freedom that comes with it, covers this superficial discomfort with a cloak of peace and compassion. The emptiness gradually becomes your identity, both new and original, your true identity, unchanging, unchangeable because it has no target, no colour, no substance.

You still must scrub the floor itself, covered with a thick layer of dust and dirt. With the joy of finally feeling it under your feet, solid and stable, you set to work. And the wonder appears: From this cleared and cleaned floor radiates an intense light, an immeasurable energy, beautiful, invincible, unlimited. It engulfs everything, including the walls, the floor, the flat, the whole house, and yourself. The ultimate goal of life, the very one that awakened in you the desire to get rid of all the initial junk, is achieved: you are no longer, and you are everything!

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Date: November 20, 2021
Author: Jean Bousquet (Switzerland)
Photo: Joshgmit on Pixabay CCO

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