The Space Between

Music lives in the space between the notes. If we don’t listen into that space we never hear the harmony, the subtle melding in which the richness emerges as our own inner knowing.

I have done this exercise with many: Standing in a field I point in a direction and ask what is seen. Most people name a specific object such as a tree, or a cloud, or a plant. Few, if any, see the space. Yet the space is the ground from which all objects take form.

Self-observation is central to self-knowledge. Conditioning in childhood demands that we see only part of reality—the part which corresponds to dominant cultural agenda whether dictated by family, school, religion, or media, and usually in combination of all or most of these. Self-observation allows us to see clearly who we are in any given moment and thus dissolves conditioning, dissolves the major impediment to self-knowledge. 

Self-observation occurs in the moment. Memory is not always reliable. Nevertheless, self-reflection, as the useful practice of journaling exemplifies, can provide insight into what has occurred and motivation to be more diligent in self-observing. And so before this writing can go any further I must ask you to recall interactions of the past 48 hours. Was there participation in the space between? How do you know? What allowed for it? When it wasn’t there what blocked it?

Let’s eliminate some mistaken notions about the space between. It has nothing to do with compromise or the trivial attempt to “agree to disagree.” Nor can the space between be lived when confusions and insecurities and incompatibilities are supposedly resolved by emphasizing differences and the letting each person go their own way.

Comments such as “we are wired differently” or “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” only create artificial boundaries. They invite isolation rather than connection.

Sometimes it is difficult to enter the space between with the people with whom we are closest. How do we invite as child who does not want to do homework in into the space between? Can we engage our lovers in meaningful dialogue about physical intimacy? Only if we self-observe can we know if are entering the space between.

Here are some blocks to the space between as known to me through self-observation and the feedback: 

What does happen in the space between? Inquiry, inquiry, inquiry. Self-observation—transparency and honesty. Appreciating and participating in differences as a way to understand one another and the wholeness of humanity. Never compromising to make peace but ever committed to remain engaged—to take the bet that wisdom emerges. This wisdom opens to self-knowledge, allows the notes each person sounds to be heard, and if you stay there, if you keep inquiring and listening and observing and participating in the emotions, no matter how challenging, these emotions may create the optimal opportunity, the environment, for self-knowledge.

Love lives in the space between. I am not referring to love, but to Love. I am not referring to affection, to kindness, to caring, to empathy but to Love—Love that arises in emptiness, Love that destroys conceptions, Love for which surrender is required and then takes more than you ever thought you had to give and yet would gladly give again and again.

May this writing serve to spark an interest to awaken the space between in all relationships.