Code has provided the informational matrix for space in my recent code/space posts. While I still have a lot of ground to cover there, I thought it would be interesting to approach the question of space from the matrix of a Buddha.
In Buddhist literature, the Matrix-Of-The-One-Gone-Thus is frequently intertwined with space. I touched on this in a previous post discussing Buddhist space. As with just about everything, different flavors of Buddhism treat space in somewhat different ways. As I have in my previous Buddhist posts, I will be mainly talking about the Gelugpa school’s interpretation.
The Verse Summary of the Perfection of Wisdom is one of the oldest of the Perfection of Wisdom sutras. In this passage, one who has in effect, directly perceived Emptiness, sees the dharma (in this context, sees the way things are) as if she were seeing space itself.
The One-Gone-Thus teaches that one who does not see forms,
Does not see feelings, does not see discriminations,
Does not see intentions, does not see
Consciousness, mind, or sentience sees the dharma.
Analyze how space is seen as in the expression
By sentient beings in words, “Space is seen.”
The One-Gone-Thus teaches that seeing the dharma is also like that.
The seeing cannot be expressed by another example.
Verse Summary of the Perfection of Wisdom translated by Jeffrey Hopkins in Final Exposition of Wisdom works by Tsong-Ka-Pa edited and translated by Hopkins
Emptiness is a non-affirming negation. It establishes the inherently existing self as the object to be negated, but does not explicitly affirm anything in its place.
This approach negates inherent existence without inadvertently positing some kind of essential entity, or ground of existence. Extending this, space then becomes a metaphor for the Mind perceiving Emptiness. In Emptiness Yoga, Jeffrey Hopkins writes “space [is] the non-affirming negative that is the mere elimination of any obstructive tangibility”. (371)
Common usage certainly includes this alternate sense of “space”. We could reformulate “I need my space” as “I am experiencing you as an obstruction to my optimal functioning. Get lost.” Buddha/space takes this non-obstructiveness as the defining characteristic of space, not as an intellectual exercise, but rather as the felt experience of the way things are.
If the mind that has voidness as its object thinks intellectually, “This is ‘noninherent existence.’ I have found ‘noninherent existence.’ This absence that is the nullification of what is to be refuted is ‘voidness,’” this is referred to as “setting voidness out at a distance.” This will not do. The mind that has voidness properly as its object is a decisive piercing of the mere nullification itself. In other words, with the understanding, from the depths of our heart, that things do not exist at all like they appeared a while back, the mind taking voidness as its object completely pierces the sphere of this mere nullification like a spear piercing a target. A mind that does that is totally absorbed on voidness which is like space.
H. H. the Dalai Lama and Berzin, Alexander. The Gelug/Kagyü Tradition of Mahamudra. Online excerpt.
This lack of obstacles, space, becomes a metaphor for the spacious awareness that encounters no obstacles in its efforts to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment which is itself, spacious awareness.