We usually think of space as empty space.
Especially when we speak of space exploration.
Even the name of our space exploration agency, National Aeronautical and Space Agency, implies empty space to be explored.
But of course, there is another, more expanded view of space.
It gives dimensions, which we measure as height, width and depth.
We apply these dimensions to objects we consider “occupying a certain amount of space.”
Both views presume space to be constant.
Already there, and that objects “occupy” space.
Exploration of empty space is of a constant, unmovable, incomprehensibly expansive space.
The underlying assumption is that space is empty, except when occupied by something.
In other words, the space is everywhere, whether empty or occupied.
What happens to it when space is occupied?
Don’t we presume space to remain the same, as it was when it was empty – there to be occupied and remain there when unoccupied?
If we move an object through space, don’t we presume the space remains still when the object has moved out of that part of space into another?
Aren’t our measurements of the movement of spacecraft based upon this static status of space?
And now this is tricky —
Don’t we presume that space is everywhere, whether occupied or not?
Space is difficult to talk about
Inasmuch as it doesn’t have the characteristics of other “things,” which we talk about.
Like the wind, space is not perceptible.
But unlike wind, space cannot be felt, touched, seen or heard.
Of course, things pass through space, like sound and light.
Just a few years ago scientists believed there had to be some substance in space in order for sound and light waves to be able move through it.
Sound waves travel upon air or some other substance, like water.
That worked out fine for sound, which they were able to measure as it moved through air or water.
Scientists worried this issue to death about a century ago.
They figured space had a substance in it called ether, through which light waves traveled.
And then what added to the confusions was that light waves travel through a vacuum too, without need of a substance to travel upon.
The issue was somewhat resolved by Michelson-Morley.
Their experiment proved that there was no ether in empty space upon which light waves could travel.
Despite this experiment, scientists are still trying to figure out what there is in empty space that serves as a medium for light to travel upon, if the essence of light is waves.
Or maybe even worse, if light isn’t waves, but particles. But that opens another conundrum, which is not really pertinent to this discussion.
Or is it?
Confusion deepens when we bring in ancient Eastern philosophy.
The East believes there being five basic elements instead of Western philosophy’s four – earth, water, air and fire.
The East’s fifth element is akasha, a Sanskrit word usually translated as space. A more accurate translation would be “not-visible.”
(Root word “kas” meaning “to be visible.” Prefix “a” meaning “not.”)
In Hinduism’s Rigveda, akasha is the first element created by Brahma, “space, from which appeared air, from that fire, from which water and therefrom the earth.”
Plato says in his Timaeus
Beyond air, “there is the most translucent kind which is called by the name aether.”
Aristotle went further in his book, On the Heavens.
He noted that the four classic elements are terrestrial and subject to change.
But the “first” element was “neither hot or cold, neither wet or dry and had none of the qualities of the terrestrial elements.”
He did not give the “first element” a name, but we may presume he was speaking of Plato’s aether, and Hindus’ akasha.
Space, as akasha, permeates everything, as in the Bhagavad Gita, 13:22, “Akasha pervades everything.”
According to this view, when something occupies space, and its height, width and depth can be measured, we are measuring the space pervading it.
Not the space it occupies.
This makes sense of the Upanishad, which says it “is far away, yet near; within all, outside all . . . . everywhere, without a body, without a shape, whole, pure . . . far shining, self-depending, all transcending . . “.
The problem with our Western attitude.
Science says anything that can’t be falsified cannot be allowed in science.
By the very definition of science, ipso facto, akasha is non-scientific, for it cannot be falsified.
Non-falsibility is presumably a cardinal principle of scientific methodology.
Hence, today’s science is held hostage to a three-dimensional paradigm.
Even Einstein’s Relativity is explained within this three-dimensional world-view with its combined space-time comprising a fourth dimension.
Here’s the opening sentence in Wikipedia’s discussion of space-time:
“Space-time is any mathematical model that fuses the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time into a single four‑dimensional continuum. Space-time diagrams are useful in visualizing and understanding relativistic effects such as how different observers perceive where and when events occur.”
See if you can find any deviation from the three-dimensional everyday paradigm
with which we experience the terrestrial world, in the language with which space-time is discussed among scientists.
It’s all about using the terminology of a three-dimension perspective to understand Einstein’s space-time concept, for the three-dimensional paradigm
is how we experience things every day.
The akashic view of the cosmos would deny Einstein’s bending space-time. It would contend, for instance, that the bending is a perception by a three-dimensional mind-set. And the only way you can understand bending it, is to assume you have a base of unmovable space within which it is bent. And which is in the bending as well.
It seems impossible to speak of something that permeates all things
unless we have a substance that permeates them; as for example salt permeates water when it is dissolved in it.
But this too is a limitation of a three-dimensional mind-set.
When we consider space we need to add measurements for us to understand it. But the measurements are really about our perception of whatever it is that occupies the space, or the distances between them as the cosmic order of planet and stars.
But space itself in immeasurable, for it is in, on, above, around everything.
As Aristotle pointed out, it is the one “element” which does not change.
If it did change, we’d have nothing that would provide an “absolute” against which we set our clock, use our measuring tapes, count the miles we hike.
And how to measure space-time warps.
It is said in the Eastern tradition
If we can experience akasha we have become enlightened, and may move on into The Absolute.
That frees us from samsara, the cycle of rebirths.
Of needing to come back again and again reincarnated in more trips through earthly life.
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