Did you know that all matter is mostly empty space? If an atom was the size of a football field, the nucleus (the solid centre, and essentially the only part with any mass) would be the size of a small marble! The electrons would be floating in a cloud of probability in the nosebleeds. The rest is empty space. You, me, feelings, thoughts, tables, grass… what are they really? What is really there? Emptiness or form?
Is it possible for two things to be true at the same time?
Can the table be both solid and empty space, depending on how close we’re looking, or whether we’re looking at all?
Can the electron be here and there at once? Everywhere and nowhere?
These two planes of reality, co-existing simultaneously, paradoxically. These two levels of truth — relative and ultimate. Can we work with them both?
We seem to have no choice but to accept the relative reality of everyday appearances. It’s what we see all around us, every day, and it’s very convincing. It seems that the table is solid, that you are over there, and that I am over here, and here, in this meat body and I must drink water to live and need friends to be happy.
But what about the ultimate order of reality, supported by quantum physics? Where you and I are mostly empty space, mere energy vibrating, no real separation, no real difference? No you or me. No table. No beginning, no end. No life or death. No thirst, no needs.
Can we also work with this truth? I think we can, and not only in heady philosophical discussion. I think we can bring more of this ultimate reality, beyond how things appear, into our daily lives. I think if we do, we bring possibility and spaciousness that can release us from the anxieties and pains of the relative world of form.
There are times in life when this “higher” truth, of emptiness, of oneness, of matterlessness, can be our refuge. When we find ourselves too caught up in the world of form. When we’re hurt by it. When faced with pain, suffering, with death and loss. With heartache.
If we can hold these two truths, perhaps with practice we can choose which view of reality serves us best in that moment.
It is true that I lost you. It is true that I miss you. That I am a biological, psychological creature that has needs.
But it is also true that nothing is ever lost or found, ever gone, ever dead. It is also true that you are more than your body, that you are a part of everything.
Everything matters, but also nothing really matters. Both can be true.
And within this realm of possibility… is freedom.
May we all be free from suffering. May we all find peace. True harmony, and ultimate truth.