Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A friend sent me a link to a YouTube site titled The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D. It was a short documentary about what some scientists who were privileged to be allowed access to the Hubble telescope saw when they pointed it to where there appeared to be absolutely nothing.

In time, the computer that was attached to the telescope began to pick up images, and before long, they found that within the nothingness were several million more galaxies. Astonished, they tried the experiment again, this time pointing to the distant blackness in their newly viewed field. Once again, when they closely looked into the nothingness, they found even more millions of galaxies. This makes me wonder if there is such a thing as nothingness, such thing as absence.

Einstein, I believe, said cold is the absence of heat. There are no measurements for cold, only measurements of heat – British Thermal Units. So cold is a measurement of the absence of heat, but no matter how cold things get, even -75 degrees Celsius, there is still a presence of heat in the most infinitesimal measurement. Einstein has also been said to have added that fear is the absence of love, so that even the most evil person has at least a minuscule element of love present.

This would suggest there is absolutely, always some sort of presence everywhere at all times. So what is this presence? God? Love? Peace? I don’t know, but if I was to analyze it…I could no longer feel it. Thinking, it seems, veils it. When I breathe slowly and relax, there it is again. Breathing connects me to it, and thinking disconnects me from it. How curious. It’s like the relaxed breath is the drawbridge to this Presence.

If Presence is in the spaces, is there really nothing, no thing? Maybe, therefore, Presence is not a thing, it has no form; it is formless. The word Buddha is made up of two symbols - no and man: no man, no thing, no form: formless. Where there is nothing, there is Presence and since it is no thing, it must be a state of being: Being Present.

Is Buddha ‘no man’ because that which he is (formless) is also in all mankind? If that formless Presence is everywhere, even in the spaces between the far off galaxies, isn’t he and me and all things at the same time? The formless is in all forms? Hmmm.

So once again, what is this Presence? Can I possibly know something so vast? I can feel it. I can sense it. I can even trust it, but I’m not sure if I have the language to truly comprehend it. The language I do have helps me put some pieces of the puzzle together so I can get a sense of what is occurring. Being a detective, one looks for patterns and since I am a writer, I look for patterns in words - wanting: long for, sympathy: empathy, pretty: beautiful, comfort: ease, studied: wise, thinking: knowing. At first glance the pairs of words appear to have similar meanings. However, after a closer look, the first of the pair is about the form and the second is about the formless. Wanting, sympathy, pretty, comfort, studied, and thinking, are all about things a person does. Long for, empathy, beautiful, ease, wise, and knowing, all come from Presence, from being. It would appear that being leads to a deeper place than doing. Being a responsible parent or a responsible homeowner will lead to doing certain tasks. The doing comes from the being. If you do the things parents should do, will you be a good parent? Can you do caring? It seems to me there would be something missing, some intangible, formless presence.

Maybe people feel alone, rejected or inadequate because they aren’t connected to the Presence: they feel an absence of the Presence. But since the Presence is always there, they just have to open to it, let down the drawbridge, and breathe to connect.

This no-thing pattern of life seems to be all around us, within us, beyond us. Even the digital world, and its language based on a series of 0’s and 1’s, reflects this. The formless and the form are eternally linked, and when we stop thinking, stop doing, and open to it we feel the same awe, the same oneness in our inner space as those scientists who saw into the nothingness in outer space.

“It's absolutely mind-blowing if you stop to think about it, that by looking at a patch of sky that appears to have nothing in it, and you stare at it long enough, you see an image full of galaxies.”
- Tony Darnell
To view the video go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAVjF_7ensg&feature=channel