Who thought writing a post about nothing will be this difficult? I have wanted to write a post about nothing for a long time but have always struggled to put the ideas and concepts in my head into words that will make sense to all. This blog post has to date been one of the hardest posts for me to write and I am still not sure if it is ready to be published. I apologise in advance if it comes across as the ramblings of a mad man. I have tried to break it down as much as possible and will in the future expand on specific sections. Here goes, my thoughts on absolutely nothing.
In the beginning, there was nothing. This nothingness or emptiness is something tough if not impossible to conceive by us because as humans we think and experience the world relatively. Something is only empty in contrast with something being full. There is only nothing when we can understand something. The nothingness I am talking about is a limitless, infinite nothingness that preceded any something.
It is telling that we can find this concept of nothingness in many different belief systems and the logical conclusions from this are fascinating.
In Daoist or Taoist cosmology this state of nothingness is called Wu Chi. Wu Chi is the limitless, boundless infinity that preceded creation. From Wu Chi came Tai Chi, which represents the first movement in creation. Tai Chi is the eternal interplay between Yin and Yang (Positive and Negative Poles) this further divides ad infinitum into the creation of all things.
Kabbalists (Jewish mystics) call this nothingness Ain. Ain describes a state of perfect emptiness, a state of no creation that we can’t conceive of. From Ain comes Ain Soph, which as above represents the first movement in creation. It represents the union of all things just as Tai Chi does in Daoist cosmology. Ain Soph then descends into Ain Soph Aur, which represents the light of action that descends into creation and from this comes the spheres of creation that encompass all things.
Sufi (Muslim Mysticism) cosmology is not known as well as others but as you will see, it follows a very similar pattern. The nothingness that preceded creation is Alam-i-Hahut (The world of “he-ness”) In Sufi cosmology this represents the unmanifest absolute. From this comes Alam-i-Lahut (The world of “god-ness). It is critical to note that according to Sufi cosmology this is when Allah (God) manifests. From here, in a similar way to the above these Alams (Worlds) descend into spiritual and material creation.
I apologise if that was difficult to follow, I just wanted to give some examples of how this idea of nothingness exists in different belief systems around the world. The state of nothingness preceding creation is a wonderful idea to explore, as it is a state that according to some faiths precedes even God. As this state of nothingness is limitless and infinite, it contains the potential of all possibilities. According to Sufis, this nothingness can’t even be worshipped, as there is nothing to worship. We can only begin worship at the next stage, the stage when God proceeds from this nothingness. God, not being at the beginning is fascinating for those who follow these systems as it can mean that God is not the prime mover or the highest level. God is the first creation and the architect of our universe. Those familiar with Gnostic teachings can see a similarity here. Gnostics believe the creator God is a flawed being that created the universe in its imperfect image.
As the potential for one god exists within the original nothing, then the potential for infinite gods also exists. Many creators (gods) may exist within this original nothingness that has gone on to create universes. Our universe may be one of an infinite number of universes created by an infinite number of creators that came from the nothingness that preceded all things. This idea starts to venture into the theory of the Multiverse that some prominent theoretical physicists support.
What about us? Where do humans fit into all this? We are also a product of the original nothingness, the Wu Chi, Ain or Hahut. We as humans may very well be the instant, the focal point where this nothingness became aware of itself, became conscious. Take away our internal narrative that gives rise to the idea of a personality and an idea of self. All we are at the core is awareness. Anyone who has done some meditation, where they have been able to stop thinking and stop the internal dialogue can attest to the fact that all remains is awareness. When the subject-object duality disappears we can get a glimpse of this empty non – attaching awareness.
So don’t sell yourself short, you are not a creation who has to live a certain way to enter heaven or hell. You are the point that the original nothingness became aware.
Shkar Sharif is the head instructor at Tiger Crane Kung Fu in London. Any other questions, ask!