None of us can fathom the Big Bang. How there was nothing, then a boom, then something. Or rather, ever-expanding somethings of unfathomable energy moving at speed in seemingly limitless space over infinite time.
But it occurred to me that a mini Big Bang happens every time we awake. (I warned you I’d gone off the deep end; I’ll understand if you need to click away). In deep sleep — the dreamless kind — we know nothing of time and space. We don’t experience time in deep sleep. The moment of falling asleep is the moment of waking up. We don’t experience space, either. We have no experience at all, in fact. Deep sleep is entirely without content or duration. That is our experience of it, anyway.
But then we wake up. And there is space. And the clock is ticking. And the hands have moved a good bit since the last time we looked.
And in this lies a clue to the nature of reality, I think.
Where were you before you were born?
Standing in the streets of a country on the other side of the world can be shocking, culturally. But once we get over the fact that we can no longer read street signs, or discern words in the sound emanating from the mouth of the man sitting next to us on the bus, we realize we are just “here.” And that the feeling of “here” in this place is no different from the feeling of “here” at home. Or anywhere else.
It used to strike me as puzzling and odd, that feeling of being “here” in a foreign country. How gravity works the same, seasons change, sidewalks lie underfoot. I once found myself saying, I can’t believe I’m here, in this place I’ve always wanted to be. And then I thought, it’s not so different from any other.
There is nowhere else to be than “here.” Where else could you go?
It can take a lot of work to get from one here to another. A long flight or several. A train ride overnight. Multiple busses. Some walking. But even then, and throughout the journey, wherever we are is here. Drop the mental construct of travel, and there is only here.
That, too, is a clue about the nature of reality, I think.
Travel forces us to focus on being here. It emphasizes here. And emphasizing here is a kind of meditation. It knocks you into the present moment.
Where we you before you were here?
Speaking of the present moment, that moment is now. It is always now, and can only ever be now. We consider the past, we imagine the future, but each of those activities is a mental exercise occurring now.
An innocent but insidious construct employed in education is the timeline. The horizontal bar with one line extending left towards something called a past and another pointing right towards something called a future. Repeated exposure to this tool conditions us to think of time in a certain way, as moving from “way back there” to “way up ahead.” What we experience is not that at all, but only the now, the little blip on the timeline that, because of the timeline itself, we imagine moving along in time from left to right. But we do not experience this motion, nor do we experience a past or a future. We only experience now. Our birthday party at age seven occurred now, our memory of that birthday occurs now. We imagine a future birthday now, that, when it occurs, will occur not in the future but now.
Imagine the same timeline, then imagine the lines extending out to the left and right of the little bubble that marks now dissolving and falling away. This leaves us with only now, which is exactly what each of us experiences at all times. As these lines fall away from this imagined timeline, they do so in a space, but this space too is only imaginary, both literally and metaphorically. When we fall asleep, time and space fall away. They cease to be.
It’s almost as if there really is only a here, and only a now, and neither of these exist in time or space.
Isn’t it interesting that science tells us that this thing we call the universe explodes from nothing into something, into seemingly infinite time and space, and each of us explodes every morning out of nothing into something. Into time and space?
Time is eternity filtered through mind. Space is infinity filtered through perception. ~ Rupert Spira
In between the waking world, in which we perceive four dimensions (three of space, one of time), and dreamless sleep, where we experience no dimensions (no space, no time), lies a world entirely inside the mind — the dream state. When we dream, we experience the same four dimensions of space and time, yet our dream occurs in only one of those dimensions (time).
If an experience of four dimensions can be realized in one dimension, perhaps it is really happening in zero dimensions. In the “dimensionless” point where here and now intersect. Where the infinite and the eternal co-exist. Where we wake, and the non-extant universe explodes inside our minds as time and space.