Before I get into the actual subject matter for this week’s sermon, I want to preface it by emphasizing the aspect of a kind of meditation when reading, rather than intellectual and logical understanding. Rather than focusing on the sparks that light the fire, let the fire burn. I don’t intend to place one into a maze of intellectual curiosity with these concepts, but rather open one up to a place beyond logic and intellect.
If you have any affinity for the sciences, physics, at one point or another, will probably grab your attention. In many ways, it is very similar to the spiritual quest for truth. Both pursuits, if they are done with true curiosity, question everything. They attempt to find the true nature of reality, even if we consistently muddy the waters with our own ‘looking’. After all, science and spirituality have a common ‘problem’- how can we find the truth without affecting the very thing we’re trying to find with our own involvement?
You can see how easy it is to fall into a maze of thought and paradox, and why I began with a word of caution about getting stuck there. So, don’t get caught in details….read on as if you're meditating. Don’t get stuck in one thought, one theory, but keep reading to the end. You can always come back later.
Matter, as in the chair you’re sitting on, has been found to be mostly ‘empty’. Although it may feel totally solid, it is actually mostly space. This goes against every logical, sensory form of input that we have, on a mundane level. We only experience matter, such as a table and chair, as solid.
How can this be? How can something that is mostly space feel solid, appear solid? The very simplified explanation is vibration, movement, and energy. The best scientific minds in the world have done vast amounts of research on this so I won’t attempt to delve deep into the aspects of these theories. If you want to read more on the scientific aspects, there is a wealth of information out there.
For our purposes, focus on the vibration as it relates to movement and energy. A common way to describe this phenomenon would be to look at a fan when it is still versus in motion. When the fan blades are still, the inside of the fan appears mostly empty. You can put your hand through the spaces and see through to the other side. Turn the fan on and the space now appears almost solid- totally solid if you could turn the blades fast enough. The particles that make up matter move in a way to create a state that, to us, is solid- even though it is not. Neither state, solidity or emptiness, is ‘more’ true than the other, just different (from an observer’s perspective that is).
One can begin to see that the world we experience, rather than being static and definable, is dynamic and relative. It is dependent on numerous external factors, including our perception of it. We cannot separate ourselves from the reality we are trying to understand. Look further and we will begin to blur the lines between ourselves and the universe we live in.
Is there really a clear line between ‘you’ and ‘other’ if we, quite literally, help create the very things we attempt to measure objectively?
Our spiritual selves are very much the same, identical on the most elementary levels. Although our thoughts, and therefore who we think we are, seem like the spinning fan, in our daily lives, they are also much like matter, with empty space predominating. Think of a movie. We see a movie as a continuous stream of images, motion, solid in a way. Really, film is a series of still pictures with gap between them moving so quickly, that our minds ‘jump’ the gaps and make it appear as one continuous ‘movie’.
Our thoughts, what we take as ourselves, also have space as their basis. The speed of our thoughts makes it appear as our stream of consciousness is all that we are. Our vibration, our movement and energy, keeps us from seeing the stillness that exists between thoughts. We begin to feel like we are nothing more than the constant flow of thoughts and we lose the ability to see what else is there.
The space that underlies thought is a window to our true nature. What that is cannot be communicated with words; however, the exciting part is that you don’t have to take my word for it. You can go find out for yourself what there is to find. That space is open to you any time.
Conceptually speaking, the parallels between the scientific theory and the spiritual theory can help us in our own spiritual path. The vibration of matter is responsible for its current state- you, as it turns out, are much the same. Think of all the various states of matter. Think of all the various states of ‘you’. All these states are kinds of vibrations, kinds of movements and energy, within emptiness, within potentiality.
We commonly experience, in both matter and in ourselves, the vibration, the manifested reality. We commonly fill in the stillness, the silence, the underlying field of potentiality. When we experience both, there is really no difference between the two. It is all one thing. It is only from our perspective as a vibrating observer that there is a difference.
What we experience as our ‘reality’ is only a particular vibration, an infinitesimally small aspect of the space that makes up the whole. We have access to this space when we can see between the frames of the movie’s film, slow our thoughts to experience the space between them. When we experience the underlying emptiness, the peace and stillness of what underlies every form of vibration, a transformation of how we experience things occurs.
When we begin to understand, and experience, these aspects of reality, we can understand our different states in a more complete way. We begin to have an innate understanding of our different vibrations, our different states, and they start to lose their bite. Pain doesn’t cause as much suffering. The seeking of pleasure, and avoidance of pain, begins to have less of an affect on the direction of our lives, and we begin to feel that there is a peace in stillness rather than running away from stillness by seeking the distractions of life. We will eventually see that seeking can never truly solve problems, only stillness shows us that there never was a problem to begin with.
Experiment with using the idea of vibration to understand your own states of being. Why did you feel sorrow yesterday and happiness today? What is it that is beyond both of those things? Where should you look to find a place beyond the rollercoaster of so many different states of being? Especially when you get so tired of the ups and downs of life, look back at these ideas of space, vibration, energy, and movement, and find out if there is a place untouched by what you feel like you might be trapped within.
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