In the infinitesimal space between stimulus and conditioned response lies our true freedom. It is in the space between words that we encounter deep, centered silence. In the space between thoughts we encounter sunyata, or (a rather rough English translation) emptiness. The Buddhist teaching of “dependent origination” claims that we are most likely to break free of habitual cycles of craving and aversion precisely here, between the bare emotion triggered by a sense experience and falling into habitual patterns in response.
Human freedom, psychologist Rollo May observes, “involves our capacity to pause between stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight.” (Courage to Create:117) The space between is the realm of possibility, for it can become an open door to the creativity Buber describes as “life pouring itself into life.”
Process-relational theology sees “God” as manifesting through these open spaces in the latticework of our reality – through the cracks in our “cosmic eggs.” A process God holds not only all that is, but also the realm of creative possibility -- luring us to open ourselves – to let the doors of our minds and hearts and spirits be “ajar” so that something new can be born.
In the relational space between – between ourselves and other people, both familiar and strange to us – between ourselves and other creatures who share this fragile green planet – between ourselves and trees and clouds and sea – in the space between one idea and another -- there, too, possibilities can open up that never before occurred to us.
It comes to me when I am most creative,
When I am thinking things and doing things
That reach beyond myself
only hoping, dreaming –
wanting revelations to connect,
support and nourish.
And when the energy surges up and lifts me
Toward the light
Where sparks ignite
And inspiration crackles
From the brain into the heart and back,
Then everything around me sings.
The spirit speaks and lives
And I am filled with wonder
At the beauty of this place
We call the world.
My gratitude knows no bounds.
My life is full,
And I am blessed beyond
All sense of self or separateness.
I am the world and all
That is within it,
And I bless the holy grace
By which all lives.
In For all that is our Life, H&E Pickett, eds.
A world without novelty – a cosmos that is not open-ended – is a world without hope. In recent times, there has been a cynical logic loose in our culture that denies the possibility of hope. Pearce puts it succinctly: “When logic bankrupts it empties the coffers of possibility.” (Crack in the Cosmic Egg:xi). While logic is essential in many spheres of human activity, it is not logic but genuine, mindful encounter that holds possibilities for turning around the tides of destruction in our world.