Richard Dama, LPC, Counseling & Clinical Hypnotherapy

Much Ado About “Nothing”

Have you ever sat and thought about nothing?

I’m not talking about vegging and just staring into space. I’m talking about seriously contemplating “Nothing.” Zero, zip, zilch, nada, the complete and absolute absence of…well, everything.

I’m willing wager that you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I contemplate the idea of nothingness…a lot. But then, if you’ve ever read any of my blogs, you know that I’m a special kind of crazy, and crap like this really fascinates me.

Evidently I’m not the only one. The study of ‘nothingness’ has been a serious area of study and argument for philosophers and scientists for millennia. Such mental luminaries as Parmenides and Leucippus (both 5th century BC), Aristotle (300ish BC), John the Scot (late 800s AD), Hegel (late 18th century AD), and Jean-Paul Sartre (middle 20th century AD) all gave their brains over to the contemplation of nothingness. And even though they didn’t agree on anything, we can also rightly say they didn’t agree on “nothing.” {Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.}

Did you know that the number ‘zero’ wasn’t even ‘discovered’ until around the 4th century AD by the Mayans? The concept of nothing and its corresponding symbol is what enabled them to develop a system of mathematics and astronomy that wouldn’t be rivaled until Newton got biped on the bean by an apple in the 17th century AD.

So that then begs the questions, ‘What’s so important about nothing?” and ‘Does nothing really exist?”

The answer to both questions is joined at the hip. Something, that is to say the world of physical objects, can only be defined in terms of their relation to nothing. As in the space around an object that gives the object its defined shape and position in both space and time.

Imagine a statue in front of a white screen. We can say that the statue is so high, so wide and so thick only by the space it occupies which can only be appreciated by the space which is around, but not part of it. Also, the screen acts as a background to the statue by which our eyes can than distinguish shape, form, volume and depth when judged by its distance from and its relation to the backdrop.
So then, it becomes clear that the emptiness or nothingness between objects is what gives the objects their definition and contrast as well as giving them their fixed location in physical space and time.

Also imagine the realm of space, as in outer space. We have been taught that space is a great vacuum devoid of substance. But if that’s the case, then how can we perceive an empty space. The answer is that space only becomes relevant as it defines the distance between two or more physical objects. That is, we can say that the moon is an average of 384,403 km away from earth…through space. If neither the earth nor the moon existed then the concept of space outside of or between either object becomes meaningless.

Conversely, one can also regard the space of cosmic nothingness as that which contains the entire universe. So, if we regard ourselves as arising from nothingness when we are first born, and believe we will return to nothingness when we die, what we’re really saying is that we are creatures of the universe. We come from the nothingness of the universe and will ultimately return to the nothingness of the universe. BUT, if he universe is everything; if it is the sum total of all creation, then how can we, who spring from and therefore contain the entire universe within us, ever become nothing?

I don’t believe in nothing. If we can see the entire ocean in one drop of water, so too we can see the entirety of creation in one individual. We are each and collectively the universe. We are individually and collectively the sum total of all creation and as such will exist, although changed, long after our bodies cease to function.

We are creatures of electro-chemical energy. It is energy which fuels our bodies and minds. It is energy that animates our consciousness and spirit. In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant—it is said to be conserved over time. Energy can be neither created nor be destroyed, but it transforms from one form to another. So isn’t it reasonable to assume that when our bodies cease to function that the animating force or energy that is our consciousness is not destroyed, but rather simply changes form?

At the moment of death perhaps we do change and cease to be as an individual; we lose our personal memories and sense of self. Then death to me is the great liberator; we are liberated from the tyranny of the ego and the tyranny of maintaining an individual self. To die is perhaps to finally realize that we are the entire ocean in a drop of water and the entire universe in an atom in our fingernail.

But then again, perhaps we go to sleep and never wake up. And once again, what’s so terrible about that? To go to sleep and never wake up is akin to when we woke up after never having gone to sleep…when we were born.

Either way, death is life’s last great adventure. I for one would rather go to it like Indiana Jones going on an archaeological adventure. Give me a fedora, bullwhip, and a treasure map and get out of my way. I have some discovering to do.

Here’s hoping you have an intentionally great and adventurous day.

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