Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Black Space
Annihilation Space Associated with the Feeling of Existence
This is a black, empty space encountered at a very subtle level of identity, the sense of identity which stems from the experience of existence. Here we are not dealing with boundaries of any image; we are dealing with the identity itself, the actual feeling of existence. Identity itself, both ego-identity and essential identity (identification with Being), is annihilated here in this space.
As this space arises, the individual encounters fears of death, of disappearing, of annihilation, of nonexistence. This space is actually the experience of nonexistence, of complete extinction of self, of cessation. The cessation can be so deep that even awareness and consciousness cease for a time. The person here is not only afraid of the death of the body, but is also afraid that his mind will cease to exist. And this cessation of mind is exactly the experience of this space. This space, although it arouses the greatest terror, is experienced as the greatest peace. The calm, the silence, the peace, is complete, total. It is utter relief. When you are no more, then there is no more suffering. Cessation and nonexistence is blissful peace. This space is the blackest. It is so deep and black that even consciousness is annihilated. One enters deepening blackness, so that after a while one cannot see anything; one is swallowed in the abyss.
The Void, pg. 148
Black Dense Space Related to the Internal Body-Image
Dealing with the boundaries of the internal body image will precipitate the experience of a dense space like the preceding one, but black instead of clear. This space arises when the individual lets go of the sense of identity stemming from inner bodily sensations. This sense of identity stems not only from the quality or kind of inner sensations of the body, but more importantly from the mere presence of these sensations and impressions. In other words, the identity here is very much connected with the mere presence of the body. This identity is with the body. The loss of this set of boundaries will usually bring the fear of loss of the body itself. So in dealing with this particular set of boundaries, the individual comes across the fear of death. In fact, the fear of death is encountered in all the black spaces. The personality does not usually differentiate itself from the body when feelings about death are involved.
The Void, pg. 147
Black Space Experienced as the Infinity of Peaceful Space
In black space we are aware of the absence of the sense of self; however, we experience it not as a deficiency but rather as freedom and release. There is a sense of newness and coolness, of lightness and light-heartedness, of the absence of burden and suffering, and the presence of purity and peace. It is a nothingness, but it is a nothingness that is rich, that is satisfying precisely because of its emptiness. It is a direct sense of endless stillness, of pure peacefulness, of an infinity of blackness that is so black that it is luminous. It is a transparent blackness that is radiant because of its purity. This is not the experience of a self, an observer beholding the endlessness of space; rather, it is the experience of the self experiencing itself as the infinity of peaceful space. It is an infinite field of a conscious medium, aware at all points of it. The medium is totally at rest, with a stillness that is the same thing as the awareness of stillness.
The Point of Existence, pg. 338
Black Space Exposes the Activity through which the Familiar Identity Perpetuates Itself
The experience of black space is not immediately established as a permanent attainment because in addition to those we discussed in the last chapter, there are other barriers to this space. These usually present themselves after the full experience of inner spaciousness, but sometimes before it. The usual tendency is to fill the great chasm, the narcissistic emptiness, with whatever one can find. The ultimate filler is the formation of the shell, but the student will try anything to avoid awareness of this emptiness. We have discussed many of these fillers, the various reactions and object relations, the images and memories, the ambitions and ideals, the hopes and plans, and so on. However, the direct encounter with black spaciousness magnifies a more subtle barrier against full awareness of the chasm. It reveals something ordinarily too subtle to see and too implicit to apprehend. It exposes, in clear relief, the activity through which this filling occurs, especially the activity through which the familiar identity perpetuates itself. In other words, the stillness of the inner spaciousness reveals the agitation which characterizes the activity of the familiar identity, what we have termed ego activity (see Chapter 8). In fact, the experience of the imperturbable peacefulness of the endless night sky not only exposes this inner psychic activity, but tends to intensify it. The self reacts to the stillness as a death, and intensifies its activity by which it generates its sense of self-recognition. The ego activity becomes furious agitation and feverish inner obsessiveness.
The Point of Existence, pg. 339
Black Space Related to the Internal Self-Image
This is an empty, light, but black spaciousness. Its phenomenological relation to the clear space is like the relation of night to day. It is generally related to the internal self-image, which is usually deeper and more difficult to surrender. The loss of this deeper boundary is usually experienced as a loss of identity. While for the clear space a commonly associated fear is one of disintegration, for this black space, the fear is of not knowing who one is.
As the black space arises, there is a sense initially of a lack of orientation, which produces much anxiety. But if the individual allows the disorientation, and surrenders the sense of self, after a while the black empty space will be experienced as containing a sense of depth, silence and peace.
The Void, pg. 146
Realization of the Essential Identity
As ego activity diminishes, it becomes easier to stay with and experience fully the selfless openness of the black space. The student can tolerate the absence of the familiar self with little difficulty and may even appreciate this absence. This sets the stage for the manifestation of the Essential Identity. The black space appears as the night sky where the Essential Identity may arise as a brilliant star in the pure darkness. A brilliant point of presence and awareness takes form in the endlessness of space, with the inner recognition: “I am here now.” The student feels specifically present, as a singularity of presence, totally autonomous from all images, representations, or concepts of self. There is a new element in the experience: The sense of authentic identity is present, and it is experienced as oneself. One does not experience it, one is it. This development takes one to a new dimension of experience, as if one is experiencing things from the other side. When one is completely being the Essential Identity, the experience no longer takes the form of being or seeing a point of light. The sense of size disappears, even the feeling of identity disappears. Self-realization becomes a matter of being, purely being, with an increasing understanding of what this means. There is a sense of simplicity and innocence, of just simply being. It is not a matter of being oneself and knowing this by reflecting on the experience of oneself. There is no reflection on the state, no desire to analyze it. There is a sense of being alone, without the concept or feeling of aloneness. The aloneness is the perception of oneself as pure, undefiled and uncontaminated. There is lightness and freedom. The mind is quiet and sometimes without thought. This is a delicate state of the Essential Identity and is very vulnerable to obscuration by concepts and ideas. Concepts and ideas—even those of enlightenment and liberation—tend to obscure this state, even to eliminate it. Words cannot totally capture it. It is being prior to conceptualization.
The Point of Existence, pg. 345
The Absolute Experienced as Infinite Black Space
Because the absolute is not simply nonbeing, we experience it as a field, an expanse, and not simply nonbeing. To understand this we need to make a particular differentiation explicit. We have being using two terms interchangeably, namely absolute and absolute dimension. Strictly speaking, the absolute is the ultimate nature of Reality, and it is beyond dimensions; for dimensions are the experience of manifestation. Yet, we do experience the absolute as a dimension, boundless and infinite, an infinity that contains and holds all manifestation including the other boundless dimensions. We can say that the absolute is the unmanifest, the ultimate truth and mystery of Being, beyond all dimensions and qualities. But when it begins to manifest appearance, this manifestation appears as if in an expanse, an infinite and boundless expanse, that looks like black space. Manifestation appears always in the context of time and space. It always possesses an expanse in time and space. Therefore, when we witness appearance from the stance of the absolute we see an expanse appearing in a more vast, dark expanse, the absolute. We have the sense of the absolute as an expanse, as a vast infinite black space. The absolute appears in this perception as a boundless dimension that underlies all other dimensions. But in reality the absolute is beyond space and time, for it is beyond manifestation.