Yesterday I posted a ramble on a concept of personal mathematics. As part of that personal symbolic space used to define the pattern of me, I alluded to a concept of nothing. Symbolically, nothing is represented as zero or drawn as that familiar circle enclosing empty space: 0
Paradoxically by defining nothing as a symbol, nothing then becomes something. At its heart nothing is the absence of something, yet when nothing becomes a zero it is actually something. A zero is the abstract measure of nothing. This symbolic conception of the essence of nothing is critical to any mathematical system. Before the system exists, before an object exists, or when it no longer exists, what begins and remains is always zero. But it is not zero until it is observed as being nothing or conceived of in some mind as starting from nothing.
Just like the hypothetical question of “if a tree falls in the forest – and there is no one to hear – does it make a sound?” the same concept applies to nothing. If nothing falls to the ground and there is no one there to see it – is it really nothing at all? It is the act of observation of nothing that gives it significance, and in turn gives that nothing its existence. A nothing unobserved and unremarked has never existed, and never will exist.
My readers are now going “that makes absolutely no sense!” I challenge you to find me a nothing that has never been observed. Be very careful for the very act of noting that nothing will in fact void its status have never having been observed! That nothing has now been encircled and symbolically captured as a “zero”.
From a personal mathematics system, we all begin as nothing. Before us our parents sprang from nothing, and before them their parents, and so on back through the first nothing. This leads to an interesting mind bender – nothing begets nothing. Nothing leads to nothing. And from nothing comes nothing. Yet each link of nothing leads to something. The trick is understanding at what point nothing becomes something. We of course do this all the time in our own lives turning hundreds of nothings into something throughout lives. It is one of the great things about being human, we can dwell on nothing, let nothing consume us. And in the end have nothing become a horrible something spawned from our own minds connecting nothing to nothing until it is overwhelming our reality.
The trick to handling nothing is to not allow it to have focus. The more energy we pour into nothing, the more energy it will demand. Nothing is after all infinite in its vastness, and the more we allow nothing to consume us, the bigger it becomes. Nothing is only dissipated when simply let it become nothing.
And yes this is now a zen mind trick. Here we move from the concept of “zero” to the concept of “mu”. While zero is bounded and contains nothing. Mu is the concept of ‘nothingness’ as fully existing without the actual nothing being observed or embraced. This is the impossibility of the ultimate zen state of being. Finding that balance of simply being, without interacting with the awareness of being.
Now the reader throws up their hands in frustration and points out my earlier statement – ‘A nothing unobserved and unremarked has never existed, and never will exist.’ So how then is the mu even possible? Perhaps it is not. Only you will ever know if you have attained a mu state in yourself – yet the very observation of the mu state then negates the mu state. Circularly annoying!
I leave you with one last mental concept of the importance of nothing in this ramble. Observe a tea cup. Or a coffee mug. Or even a bowl. It is a tangible object that we can see and touch and hold. Yet what makes it useful is the fact it is designed to hold nothing. It is the empty space bounded by the the material around that empty space that makes a cup or a bowl actually a useful object. This is true of many of the everyday objects we use to make our lives easier. Bounded nothing is open to the potential of being useful, and useful in ways only limited by our imagination.
And so I leave you with nothing else to say.