Space

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In the Theosophical view, Space is not only the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction, but the container of a number of unperceived dimensions or "planes" constituted by different kinds of matter. All these planes have place within the cosmic space, which is a temporal manifestation of the eternal pre-cosmic absolute abstract space.

General description

In Theosophical literature "space", when treated as an abstract metaphysical principle, is used as symbol for the Absolute Reality and actually seen as one aspect of it:

The One All is like Space—which is its only mental and physical representation on this Earth, or our plane of existence—neither an object of, nor a subject to, perception . . . it is, therefore, that ABSOLUTE ALL.[1]

A similar concept is found in one of the letters from Master K.H. who wrote:

The book of Khiu-te teaches us that space is infinity itself. It is formless, immutable and absolute.[2]

In talking about space as an abstract principle, Blavatsky commented:

Of course the distance between two points is called space; it may be enormous or it may be infinitesimal, yet it will always be space. But all such specifications are divisions in human conception. In reality Space is what the ancients called the One invisible and unknown (now unknowable) Deity.[3]

In one of the letters from Master K.H. he relates space with the Universal Mind:

Like the human mind, which is the exhaustless generator of ideas, the Universal Mind or Space has its ideation which is projected into objectivity at the appointed time; but space itself is not affected thereby.[4]

Absolute abstract space

In the first Fundamental Proposition found in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky says that the ultimate Reality is symbolised under two aspects, one of which is "absolute abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself":[5]

Now, for us, space is a word which has no meaning unless we limit and condition it; but in reality, space is the most abstract thing, and space containing all is just that unknown deity which is invisible and which we cannot understand, which we can but intellectually sense.[6]

Space, in its absolute sense, is different from the relative physical space we know of:

. . . Space, which is an abstraction too, and is equally without beginning or end. It is in its concretency and limitation only that it becomes a representation and something. Of course the distance between two points is called space; it may be enormous or it may be infinitesimal, yet it will always be space. But all such specifications are divisions in human conception. In reality Space is what the ancients called the One invisible and unknown (now unknowable) Deity.[7]

Thus, space is seen as the one eternal and immutable principle:

“What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?” asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is—SPACE.[8]

Pre-cosmic space

James S. Perkins wrote that "Space, itself, exists in some otherness of being prior to its presence in the physical world as the emptiness medium that is familiar to us."[9]

In the first cosmological Stanza, which describes the universe before its re-awakening, space is referred to as the "Eternal Parent," which was slumbering, "wrapped in her ever invisible robes."

Before the beginning of differentiation, space is generally regarded as potential and feminine. It is symbolized by the virgin mother (to be). As soon as the period of activity starts, space assumes an androgynous form:

Space is called the “Mother” before its Cosmic activity, and Father-Mother at the first stage of re-awakening.[10]

In a dialogue with students, however, Mme. Blavatsky interpreted the Eternal Parent both as the feminine mūlaprakṛti and its later androgynous form, svābhāvat:

Q. What aspect of Space, or the unknown deity, called in the Vedas “THAT,” which is mentioned further on, is here called the “Eternal Parent”?
A. It is the Vedantic Mulaprakriti, and the Svabhavat of the Buddhists, or that androgynous something of which we have been speaking, which is both differentiated and undifferentiated. In its first principle it is a pure abstraction, which becomes differentiated only when it is transformed, in the process of time, into Prakriti. If compared with the human principles it corresponds to Buddhi, while Atma would correspond to Parabrahm, Manas to Mahat, and so on.[11]

This "Mother-Father" is frequently said to be seven-skinned, these skins being the germ for all the septenaries that will be manifested:

Space is called in the esoteric symbolism “the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father.” It is composed from its undifferentiated to its differentiated surface of seven layers.[12]

Cosmic space

Cosmic space is the manifestation of its pre-cosmic root. In Theosophical teachings cosmic space is regarded as consisting of seven planes.

According to H. P. Blavatsky, space itself is devoid of dimensions. What possesses different numbers of dimensions is the matter that emanates from space. Thus, our perception that the space around us has three dimensions is due to the fact that physical matter has three dimensions, while astral matter has four:

It is worth while to point out the real significance of the sound but incomplete intuition that has prompted . . . the use of the modern expression, “the fourth dimension of Space.” To begin with, of course, the superficial absurdity of assuming that Space itself is measurable in any direction is of little consequence. The familiar phrase can only be an abbreviation of the fuller form—the “Fourth dimension of MATTER in Space.”[13]

No empty space

Mme. Blavatsky rejected the philosophical and scientific idea prevalent at her time, which regarded space as being empty:

Locke’s idea that “pure Space is capable of neither resistance nor Motion”—is incorrect. Space is neither a “limitless void,” nor a “conditioned fulness,” but both: being, on the plane of absolute abstraction, the ever-incognisable Deity, which is void only to finite minds, and on that of mayavic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested.[14]

She quotes a "private commentary hitherto secret" as follows:

As its [the seventh plane's] substance is of a different kind from that known on earth, the inhabitants of the latter, seeing THROUGH IT, believe in their illusion and ignorance that it is empty space. There is not one finger’s breath (ANGULA) of void Space in the whole Boundless (Universe). . . . .[15]

Scientific view of space

In classical mechanics space is one of the few fundamental quantities in physics, which means it cannot be defined via other quantities because nothing more fundamental is known at the present.

In cosmology, it is postulated that space was created in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago and has been expanding ever since very rapidly due to the Cosmic Inflation.

Before Einstein's work on relativistic physics, time and space were viewed as independent dimensions. His discoveries showed that our space and time can be mathematically combined into one object, forming a boundless four-dimensional continuum known as "spacetime". In Einstein's general theory of relativity, it is postulated that space-time is geometrically distorted -curved- near to gravitationally significant masses.

The current scientific view of space is changing, and seems to be getting closer to the occult view:

Albert Einstein was the first person to realize that empty space is not nothing. Space has amazing properties, many of which are just beginning to be understood. The first property that Einstein discovered is that it is possible for more space to come into existence. Then one version of Einstein's gravity theory, the version that contains a cosmological constant, makes a second prediction: "empty space" can possess its own energy. Because this energy is a property of space itself, it would not be diluted as space expands. As more space comes into existence, more of this energy-of-space would appear.[16]

Robert Betts Laughlin, Nobel Laureate in Physics, endowed chair in physics, Stanford University, had this to say about space in contemporary theoretical physics:

Space is more like a piece of window glass than ideal Newtonian emptiness. It is filled with 'stuff' that is normally transparent but can be made visible by hitting it sufficiently hard to knock out a part. The modern concept of the vacuum of space, confirmed every day by experiment, is a relativistic ether. But we do not call it this because it is taboo.”[17]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 8
  2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 119 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 407.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 310.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 119 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 407.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 14
  6. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 66.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 310.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 9
  9. James S. Perkins, Visual Meditations on the Universe (Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 1984), 3.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 18.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 303-304.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 9.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 251.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 8.
  15. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 289.
  16. Dark Energy, Dark Matter at NASA Science website
  17. Robert B. Laughlin, A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (New York: Basic Books, 2005) 120–121.