Zero The history of zero is fairly recent history. Recent because zero wasn’t needed for the most part. Of course counting was important to civilization, but the of idea of nothing wasn’t. In fact, psychologically, zero implied nothingness, a state that was generally feared by many cultures. In India however, emptiness was a philosophical part of Buddhism, so it wasn’t any surprise that they became the first civilization to embrace the idea of zero, and make it a number as well. Today, we still use the number system that India gave the world and zero is powerful in that system because it allows us to create large numbers without having to create new digits ie. combine 5 and 0 and you have 50, which is larger than 5. Also, zero it is the middleman between positive and negative numbers, giving a proper demarcation to them. Zero is also very important to calculus, which helps us understand the universe and is also a critical part of the binary system used to program computers. So in a way Zero is huge. But what is zero ‘in the world’? Does it denote nothingness? Non-existence? Can you point at ‘Zero’? For that matter, can you point at ‘One’? Numbers are not ‘in the world’. Numbers are ideas generalized into abstractions. Numbers are abstractions put to work, so that we can reason and exercise logic. This is math. Why ‘zero’? As mentioned, historians uncovered zero within Indian culture, and it was most likely a derivative of the doctrine of ‘emptiness’. ‘Sunya’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘Zero’, and ‘Sunyata’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘emptiness’. Emptiness is a key feature in Buddhist philosophy, which basically points towards a metaphysical feature of reality, an ultimate ground. An American Monk named Thanissaro Bhikku, who has studied early scriptures in Buddhism, had this say about emptiness:
“Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, “There is this.” Thanissaro BhikkuEmptiness, as given here, is a way to view reality just as it is without imposing human based ideas upon it. Simply letting it be ‘this’. In zen, this is akin to a direct attendance to reality, not the illusions of cognition, but rather ‘this’. Zen, like Indian Buddhism, introduces nothing as the most something that could ever be. But it needs to be attended to properly. Zen just ramps up the introspection by punishing the mind if it dares to move on any ‘idea’ of emptiness. Strangely, these ancient philosophical insights have some correlation to what science has discovered about the conventional idea of emptiness, or nothingness. Nothing is impossible What is empty?
- The dictionary defines empty as: containing nothing; having none of the usual or appropriate contents: an empty bottle.
- The dictionary defines nothing as: no thing; not anything; naught: to say nothing.
- Any volume of space with no matter and no energy.
- not exactly.
- ‘energy’ measured as zero,
- and this energy confirmed as zero within an ‘instant of time’.
- the more precisely we know the time interval, the less precisely we know the energy level.
- the more precisely we know the energy level, the less precisely we know the time interval.
- This is congruent to the finding of the vacuum state in quantum theory. Energy in a field is always in flux, never permanent in one state over another. Never reaching zero.
- We attach to idea’s of something and nothing, binary distinctions that are an illusion (although practical). But remember, science isn’t about truth, it is about understanding. If you want truth, it is apart from knowledge. How to connect with truth is your own path to seek.
- Form is not form. Emptiness is exactly Form. Atoms are mostly empty space, and what is left is fields, fields that connect across the cosmos. This is not denying reality, this is supporting a larger view of it, a realization of its truth.
- Form – Material substance.
- Sensations – sensory experience of an object; pain, peacefulness, happiness, calmness, craving.
- Perceptions – mental forms, that which is recognized, and comprehensible.
- Judgement – Thought constructs and held views that cause action, our summation and reactions to things.
- Consciousness – the part of reality that knows, that is aware. That which arises with ideas of Form due to contact with the five senses.