So I’m off to the park on a beautiful Spring day. As I enter, I can feel myself calming down, allowing my breath to revert to a relaxed rhythm. My thoughts begin to slow down, allowing me to become more aware of my surroundings.
I notice the greenness of the park, with so many trees, bushes and grass surrounding me. I start to notice more details of the bushes and trees as I walk by them on the path through the park. So many leaves on the bushes and trees….and the flowers are also starting to bloom. The colors are varied and absolutely beautiful. What a good idea it was to come here for this walk.
But now I take a closer look. I zero in on a bush next to the path. I notice one leaf on the bush in particular, just one of many . I hold it in my hand. Now I imagine taking this leaf and putting it under a microscope – perhaps you did that at some point in your school career. What would you see? Cells, more than likely. But what are the cells composed of? Molecules, which are joined-together atoms. And the atoms? Protons, neutrons and electrons. They are in turn composed of even smaller particles. How far down this rabbit hole could you go?
Let’s have a look at one single atom in our leaf. How much of this atom is actually empty space? Well, a hydrogen atom has been shown to be 99.999999999999% empty space. I don’t exactly know how that compares to other atoms inside a leaf, but for the sake of this discussion, it’s probably comparable.
So what the heck am I actually holding in my hand? It’s called a leaf, but the truth is that it’s mostly empty space! Now I zoom out again to the wider view of the park, with it’s myriad leaves, grass, trees and bushes. Every single atom in this park is mostly empty space!? This isn’t just true in the park, of course, but everywhere in creation. What the heck is this reality anyway?
The first time I realized this about the nature of reality, it blew my mind. We are actually living in some kind of a miracle, where reality appears to be solid, but is actually empty. There’s a Taoist mantra that goes, “Emptiness is form, form is emptiness.” This says it perfectly, doesn’t it?
What does this say about our own forms, our human bodies? I’m thinking that we are not exceptions here, and we are also actually mostly empty space. That would tend to keep a person pretty humble, wouldn’t you say?
So we’ve got a bunch of emptiness all around us masquerading as form. And we’ve now seen that what we took for form is truly empty. So is that emptiness actually pure emptiness, or is there something else at work here? I have made a number of forays into that emptiness inside me during meditations. Sometimes I don’t get very far, but sometimes I am able to simply sink into that emptiness where I find the most beautiful peace.
The whole point of this essay is to provoke wonder and amazement at this illusion we find ourselves in. How amazing is this playground that has been designed for us humans to play in? Did we actually have a hand in this design? Is this not a miracle?
I can say for myself it makes me even more curious to explore the inner world of this emptiness. Perhaps it’s not emptiness at all, but instead, perhaps it is the love that we have all been seeking so desperately on this planet. So many authors and philosophers have referred to love as the basis of this creation, and I know we have all felt this love permeating everything at times. I’m using this as my “hypothesis” for this “scientific” inquiry, which feels like science in only the broadest sense.
Wouldn’t that be something, that we and everything around us might actually be 99.999999999999% love?