Imagine that you are no longer a solid body (or a fixed point of awareness) but a vast open space. You are a vast open space that is completely uncontained, completely unlimited.There is nothing outside of it – this open space does not exist within something but rather it contains everything. It contains everything effortlessly, without any stretching or straining, without any measuring or calculating. It pervades everything – you pervade everything.
This space is endless – it is perfectly and immaculately free of all restrictions. We could say – to try to explain what we are talking about a bit better – that this tremendous open space continues unimpeded above you, just as if you are looking up at a perfectly clear blue sky, and it also continues unimpeded below you. You don’t know if you’re looking up or looking down. Either way, you could easily start to feel that you’re falling into that vastness!
So it’s as if you are lying on your back looking up at a cloudless sky, and it is also as if you were peering over the edge of an unimaginably high cliff, looking down to see the faintly visible wavy white lines of the ocean’s waves as they break at the base of the cliff. There is a sense of infinite height above and a sense of infinite depth below. There is also – we could say – a sense of infinite breadth on either side, as if you were standing on a great plain that stretches off on all sides. You are surrounded by space, and you also are this space. There is nothing holding you in, nothing holding you back. You feel as if you can move outwards forever. You feel that you are part of a movement that has no limits…
And yet even this description fails to adequately describe what we’re talking about here. Even this scenario is subject to limitations. For a start, we’ve said that there is infinite height, depth and breadth to the picture that we’re talking about but this restricts us to only three dimensions, and in this wide-open space – as we have said – there are no restrictions. This means that there is not a finite dimensionality to it; this means that there aren’t a finite number of axes around which everything gets to be arranged. In the unconditioned space that we’re talking about there is no limit to the dimensionality – there are worlds within worlds within worlds. There is an inexhaustible source of burgeoning dimensionality, like a fountain. Instead of being enclosed in itself, like a box, everything has in some way been ‘opened out’.
We can go some way to imagining this ‘opening-out process’ by thinking of a flower with many petals that is gracefully unfolding. It’s in a state of constant unfolding. This flower is – we could say – the manifestation of pure unobstructed being. You realize that you are inseparable from this process – you realize that you are this eternally unfolding being.
A revelation is taking place. A remarkable lucidity takes hold of you as you tune deeper and deeper into the inexpressible majesty of this ‘unfolding’. You feel that you are on the edge of something too big to understand. Time slows down – as if some great secret is about to be revealed. Time itself is blossoming, unfolding, transforming itself – turning into something else. Time is being converted into limitless space!
Eternity is manifesting itself before your very eyes. Timeless being is manifesting itself before your very eyes.
You realize with an electric bolt of déjà vu that something absolutely tremendous is about to be unveiled, something that you can’t possibly even begin to understand but which – somehow – you instinctively recognize for what it is. You know what’s happening even though you can’t know it…
Now imagine that you are running away from all that!
You are running away as fast as you possibly can, fleeing. You are running away from the revelation of that tremendous spaciousness, which echoes like thunder all around you. You’re running away from the grandeur of it all, running away from what was about to unfold, but you are also running away from your own uncontrollable fear, your own limitless terror.
Ontological terror has now entered into the picture like a spanner in the works, like a fly in the ointment. Fear overtakes everything. Fear is now your master. You’ve turned away from the endless realms of infinite space, and all you can think about is how to escape from it. You don’t even want to know what it is you’re trying to escape from! But how can you possibly ‘escape’ from endless space? How can there be any ‘escape’ from something that has no limits?
You are trying with pure desperation to find a way to hide from the terrible awareness of that space. A way to undo that awareness. Unlearn the revelation. Put it back in the box. You want your solid body back…
You’re trying to forget what you were just on the point of seeing. To close it all down. Shut down all that spaciousness. Close the door tight on it. You want very badly to forget this terrifying vision. You’re trying to narrow it down and narrow it down and narrow it down until there’s nothing left to frighten you.
Now imagine that you have succeeded…
Author: Nick Williams
Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.