NOTHING (R17)


In the same dark corner where I found Living by Zen I discovered another book by DTSuzuki – Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. Alan Watts did the introduction and wrote about the cultivation of intellectual silence when desirable ‘to be aware of whatever happens to be, without thinking about it, without forming words & symbols in the mind…’ and quoted Wittgenstein: ‘The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen… happening and being-so is entirely accidental…’ All terms invented to impose value on whatever happens merely sort experiences into intellectual boxes.

Avatamsaka seems pretty much like Gurdjieff’s Iraniranumange – everything related systemically…

Beyond Suchness – original mind (therefore Gurdjieff’s Essence perhaps), non-dualism, source of intelligence, eternal peace, wisdom, transcending all particularities, middle path, mother earth, precious stones & metals, germs of life, nescience, immanence – beyond all that everything is momentary, empty, without self, such as it is…

Then it seems there must be so many names for nothingness. I lost track and skim-read a lot of words, thinking that I myself (Meta-I) begin with and escape from whatever it is that drives this pen (fountain pen, black ink, as it was before this machine took over) along the page – call it whatever you like – there’s a certain something or other forming a squiggly kind of scrawl (as it was) which began in Junior School and went through several stages from neat & tidy in 1957


to my present well-practised scruffiness.

I begin here, simply in awareness which is inside William James’ Stream of Consciousness: there’s an endless stream of visual, auditory, kinaesthetic events – endless till this moment now at least – which I’m bold enough to call my own. ‘I’ am the sum total of all these events since 1937 though my awareness of what went before – the bits & pieces of it – contributes in some way to the events as does my dim notion of what we call ‘the future’.

I can dive out of the stream (as now, this moment) to rest on the bank in Meta-I or Observer-I, but the stream persists and at the end of this sentence I am back in it. Plop! like a frog.

As for the ‘I’ itself… it is a No-thing, an emptiness that chooses to fill itself from time to time with ideas, enthusiasms, little thinkings, rememberings, noticings, haiku, even, and so on, quite satisfied (more than satisfied) to tip it all out on paper from time to time. But ‘I’ am an emptiness, a nothing going nowhere, though it knows it’s often had the pretension that it’s going somewhere (as now…) All this will dissolve by nightfall.

However, by sheer physical demonstration it’s clear that Meta-I, Self-essence – call it what you will – can stand apart from all the other parts of its ‘self’ over there on the other side of the carpet where all its fiddly little ‘I’s are written down on separate bits of paper. Something there is that can do all this while it also happily admits that it is a mere nothing, still point of the turning world, a stray bit of Suchness in any or all of its various definitions that mean nothing whatsoever.

With all this I begin now. Then it builds mental palaces of ideas. All comes from the senses, including an Unnameable one that joins company with Meta-I. An aggregate. Original Mind before it chose to become lumbered with all the ten thousand things – Meta-I.

And I know very well (even if they don’t) that all those others in the world are just the same, capable of stepping outside the humdrum multiplicity of ‘I’s into a sublime Nothingness to put down all ambition, vanity, argument and dissension. With those who (even unknowingly) have stepped sometimes into Meta-I one can feel at ease; with others it is not so.

The history of humankind… is like an immense ocean whose boundaries nobody knows and the waves of events, now swelling & surging, now ebbing, now whirling, now refluxing, in all time, day & night, illustrate how the laws of KARMA work.

My father who is dead these fifty years acts upon me now more strongly than he did in life…
(after Tolstoy on his brother)

From Nothing to Nothingness and back to Nothing. Both Nothings last millions of years. Nothingness, if one is lucky enough to realise it, will last about a hundred.

Reading DTSuzuki on Mahayana Buddhism I become mesmerised by the naming of events & concepts. There are no names necessary for Nothing & Nothingness (except for Nothing & Nothingness). STOP! and consider your being NOW: is it not empty of everything momentarily till you notice the cat on the mat and the person reading opposite you? Empty, then full. Prolonging the sensation of emptiness is not too difficult. A meditative trance will do the trick but trying to get there is no use.

Names & words in general are a distraction. The notion of Boundless Space might be appropriate… However… Take away materiality, intellect, emotion & motorbility and there’s nothing left except

2 thoughts on “NOTHING (R17)

  1. Floating on a summers day through the heaven of your back garden in bliss, noticing and not naming. A overwhelming sense of nothingness and wholeness, connecting with all the universe. Wonderful to be back there and here together and never apart! What a curiosity this life and universe is!

    Liked by 1 person

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