In the previous post, I waved a flag for Brian Greene’s book and PBS series, The Fabric of the Cosmos, especially the segment on space. I’m still waving. However, responding to some of your comments, here’s what may be a clarification.
(What follows is quoted from the book Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences, which should be available online early in 2012.)
Suppose, says Greene in the video, suppose we took away everything in the physical universe—the buildings, people, objects, the planets and stars, down to the smallest atoms of gas and dust; what would be left? We would say “Nothing.” If we took its picture, it would be empty. And as Greene agrees, we would be right; but we would also be wrong. He asks, “How do you make sense of something that looks like nothing?” At this point, experiencers of the Void sit up and take notice.
“As it turns out,” he tells us, “empty space is not nothing; it’s something.”
(Buddhists are nodding and smiling.)
“Empty space is not nothing; it’s something with hidden characteristics as real as all the stuff in our everyday lives. In fact, space is so real it can bend; it can twist; and it can ripple—so real that empty space itself helped shape everything in the world around us and forms the very fabric of the cosmos.”
In the book he summarizes (p. 32), “Space is unavoidably suffused with what are called quantum fields and possibly a diffuse uniform energy called a cosmological constant—modern echoes of the old and discredited notion of a space-filling aether.” There’s a lot going on, beyond our ability to see it with our own eyes.
I am not suggesting that Nirvana is outer space, nor that it is located in outer space, nor that an experience of the Void is an actual trip into outer space any more than a blissful NDE is a voyage to a physical heaven. However, there is this curious resemblance among space, the Void, the Godhead, and Nirvana, that what seems so empty may be full of everything there is, that it may be, in fact, the fabric of the cosmos.
In the play Our Town, the young people are fascinated to discover that a letter can be sent to them at an address beginning with their house number and ending with the Mind of God. I wonder if this conception of space doesn’t have a good deal in common with that idea.
There are no answers here, but intimations of likenesses suggesting that there may be more to this whole business of spirituality than confirmed skeptics admit.