This dharma talk by Ajahn Sumedho, published in Tricycle, brings attention to something we often ignore: space. It is one of the first steps in seeing things differently.
The space in a room is peaceful. The objects in the room can excite, repel, or attract, but the space has no such quality. However, even though the space does not attract our attention, we can be fully aware of it, and we become aware of it when we are no longer absorbed by the objects in the room. When we reflect on the space in the room, we feel a sense of calm because all space is the same; the space around you and the space around me is no different. It is not mine. I can’t say “This space belongs to me” or “That space belongs to you.”
Space is always present. It makes it possible for us to be together, contained within a room, in a space that is limited by walls. Space is also outside the room; it contains the whole building, the whole world. So space is not bound by objects in any way; it is not bound by anything. If we wish, we can view space as limited in a room, but really, space is unlimited.
Noticing the space around people and things provides a different way of looking at them, and developing this spacious view is a way of opening oneself. When one has a spacious mind, there is room for everything. When one has a narrow mind, there is room for only a few things. Everything has to be manipulated and controlled; the rest is just to be pushed out.
Noticing space reminds me of a concept in NLP called “chunk size”. Noticing space would be a relatively large chunk size. Just noticing objects and ignoring space would be relatively small.
Many of the characteristics of becoming enlightened, from what I can tell, have to do with viewing the world with a larger chunk size. Big Mind. Big Heart. NLP calls that “chunking up”.
To move in that direction, begin to notice space. Notice that it’s empty. Notice the space between thoughts, between breaths.
Notice that space connects us all.