The universe is not physical
Reality masquerades for a short time as ‘tangible matter’ (stuff/things/objects) for sentient Earth dwellers, whilst the essence of the universe is energetic rather than physical. Matter is an illusion, as quantum physics demonstrates. Quantum physics sounds impenetrable for the non-specialist, but if you have an open mind it's quite straightforward: for some readable contemporary explanations, I recommend Lothar Schäfer's Infinite Potentiality, Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief or even Mantak Chia's work with the Universal Healing Tao. The Taoists knew all this millennia ago.
Here's a couple of nice Albert Einstein (forerunner of quantum theory) nuggets:
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
"Everything is energy and that's all there is to it."
"Right, interesting, but what difference does that make to me?"
You are an expression of this so called "everything". Other terms for energy could be ‘spirit’ in Christianity or ‘qi’ in Taoism. There may be equivalents in other traditions too. Humans directly experience this non-material nature of the universe as consciousness, which you could say is a phenomenon of 'no-thing', and that which allows the very perception of what we call ‘things’ in this world.
The universe is spiritual
Humans have previously mistaken themselves to be things in a world of other things; the fundamental mistake which causes so much division and identity politics. However, our real nature is consciousness; that is to say, the spiritual essence of the universe, which is ONE AND INDIVISIBLE. To see ones-real-self in another person is what we call love.
In Christian terms, ‘Earth’ indicates the illusory dimension of physical thing-ness, whilst ‘Heaven’ indicates the no-thing basis of the universe (consciousness).
Now, when read correctly with spiritual awareness, the bible has many utterly profound passages. However, when used as a dogma in the hands of the powerful elite, it has been warped and used as a tool for oppression and war, and has subversively caused a lot of suffering, fear and division.
When Jesus is reported to have said “The kingdom of heaven is in your midst” (Luke 17:21) and “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), he was pointing to the inner non-physical reality of the universe. Eckhart Tolle often translates this biblical concept ‘kingdom of heaven’ into "dimension of inner spaciousness", which articulates more directly the experience that one’s real identity is consciousness (‘heaven’) rather than physical form (‘of this world’). The dream of physical form comes with its time-bound mental abstractions of ‘little me and my story’ and accompanying emotional baggage, which Tolle calls respectively the ‘ego’ and ‘pain body’. These can be diminished through greater awareness of inner spaciousness, which entails the cessation of thought; a process which has been described as meditation in esoteric terms. In the eternal Now, there is no past or future or person-identity: they are only mental abstractions and have little to do with reality.
The direct realisation in one’s being of the non-material nature of the universe is what has been known as the experience of ‘enlightenment’ in Buddhist terms (becoming identified with the inner ‘light’ of consciousness as opposed to the ‘dark’ of material existence) or ‘awakening’ (‘waking up’ from the dreamlike illusion of physicality).
The spiritual in art
The Russian artist and aesthetic theorist Wassily Kandinsky attempted to capture the non-physical nature of reality in his paintings. Another way he described it is capturing the musical in painting - music being the most sublime form of art...you can't see it or touch it...it's the closest art comes to pure energy; pure vibration.
"The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip"
Wassily Kandinsky, from Concerning the Spiritual in Art
When art makes me go 'wow', there was probably some kind of spiritual element in its creation, whether the artist was aware of it or not. If you have to read a caption or attend a symposium before you 'get' it, you've probably just engaged in a (pseudo)intellectual exercise. Explanations can be interesting and beneficial, but should never be necessary. That leads to all the detached, elitist scoffery we get today, and alienates so much of the population from art altogether.
This is absolutely a theme I'll come back to again, but I just really wanted to provide a visual illustration to the article, because we all like pictures. "Err, I thought the point was that reality isn't visible?" On one level you could call me a hypocrite, but 'paradox' just means that more than one thing can be correct at the same time. To cite another biblical aphorism, you are "in" the world but not "of" the world.
Does my life matter?
No, don't be silly. NOTHING really matters... because life is not matter!
The assumption that reality is physical is often engrained into our language. For example, if something ‘matter-s’, we mean to say it is important or necessary. However, the reality is, if we find that something doesn’t matter, we should consider taking more notice. Even there I wrote ‘something’, which was a contradiction in terms, if it doesn’t matter. Only nothing cannot matter, strictly speaking. Weird.
Take a break.
“It doesn’t matter" can be a very consoling phrase, the same as "Don't worry". It’s no coincidence that saying something as simple as "it doesn’t matter" has this power: it points to the fundamental spiritual nature of the universe, in which nothing matters! What a relief.
Nothing really matters.
Hallelujah! We are the eternal consolation of heaven.
So if, as Einstein said, everything is energy, and everything includes us, what might his most famous assertion suggest about 'life after death' and 'eternity'?
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”