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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Space

The boundless extension in which objects exist and where movements occur. Space is thus a unique kind of existence, for, in contrast with objects, space is empty and yet is there.

The nature of space has puzzled philosophers since time immemorial. The ancients, such as PLATO in his Timaeus, have assumed the existence of space as a receptacle. Newton equates the existence of God as constituting duration and space. Infinite space is God’s Sensorium, similar to a person being able feel and move parts of his own body. Immanuel Kant on the other hand states the space is a subjective condition that is required for our perception. William JAMES disagrees with this for he says that space is not an internal condition but something “impressed from without.”

Helena P. BLAVATSKY did not agree with Kant that Space is merely an attribute of our subjective faculties. “Our thinking of it has nothing to do with the question. Try, rather, if you can think of anything with Space excluded and you will soon find out the impossibility of such a conception. Space exists where there is nothing else, and must so exist whether the Universe is one absolute vacuum or a full Pleroma” (CW X:311).

Theosophy regards space as one of the eternal aspects of the ABSOLUTE. But it must be considered in its various grades or states. In its innermost essence it is an abstraction that is a mere potential. Space, as we experience it now with our senses, is but the manifested form of primordial unmanifested space. “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” (CW X:301). The Secret Doctrine speaks of “Bright Space” as the manifested form of “Dark Space,” the unmanifested state.

Space is thus not just a limitless void, but also a fullness. It is a void only to finite minds (SD I:8). It is the “the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested: it is, therefore, that ABSOLUTE ALL. There is no difference between the Christian Apostle’s ‘In Him we live and move and have our being,’ and the Hindu Rishi’s ‘The Universe lives in, proceeds from, and will return to, Brahma (Brahmā)’” (SD I:8-9).

“Space” and “Universe” are synonyms. In Space there is not Matter, Force, nor Spirit, but all that and much more. It is the One Element, and that one the Anima Mundi — Space, Ākāśa, Astral Light — the Root of Life which, in its eternal, ceaseless motion, like the out- and in-breathing of one boundless ocean, evolves but to reabsorb all that lives and feels and thinks and has its being in it.” (CW XIV:412)

Hindu and Buddhist metaphysics similarly posits the svāyambuva-śūnyatā, or the self-becoming void. It is a void to the senses, but a fullness in reality.

See also TIME, ĀKĀŚA, ABSOLUTE.

V.H.C.

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