zero simplified metaphor

20 09 2011

So, it can get a little too much. But the simple version, which can be used as a field to metaphorise, is what follows. Useful for explaining where buddhists are, and perhaps help people who are a little… confused. After all, this is simple maths, it is true, and we have experience of it. Powerful stuff.

Zero has several … uses of it… or approaches to it.

First, the obvious, zero as a digit, used in place value with the other digits to signify numbers. eg 302 is the number three hundred and two, indicating three hundred and two things. The 3 stands for three hundreds, the 0 for no tens, and 2 for two units. A useful shorthand.

Second, the subtle, zero even as a digit, does not behave like the other digits. In eg 3003, the 3 stands for three thousand and the other 3 for three, and three thousand is quite different from three. You can’t confuse them. Whereas, the 0 stands for no hundreds, the other for no tens, that is the same number, none.

Third, the obvious, zero as a marker for the number zero. And what is the number zero? This gets tricky. No anything. Nothing. Is it even a number? Well, whatever it is, we have a symbol for it.

Fourth, the subtle, zero. Nothing. Not even the symbol to represent it. Beyond thought or thing. Void.

So, to map it to subjective experience. Fourth, the subjectivity exists as null-state, beyond conception, the void. Third, we can call this buddha. We can call it anything, as it happens, because it is just a symbol, “buddha” or “0” or “void”. Second, subjectivity as defined by context, a socially derived self. There is no meaning to the person beyond the engagement they have with others. And first, subjectivity as I, a specific person, here and now, thinking and reading this and believing they have a personality or perhaps beliefs independent of others, an essential self.

As pure as that. What number are you?

I have had some experience like 0 as place value, and I have met a lot of people who know about the marker “0”. They talk a lot, they know a lot, they know how it fits into the number system and all that. But they are a million miles from the actual experience of 0, the void. And I’d rather engage other numbers, than those who talk about and signify 0.

hehehe, that’s actually funny.

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