Pink Elephant

“Whatever you do, don’t think of a pink elephant.”

Nothing. What is it? Or what isn’t it? Can we define “nothing”? Can we actually “think of nothing” ? At this point in your training you have begun tracing elements of who you are. That which exists. If the sages are to be believed, then “that which is” relies on “that which is not” and vice versa. We have taken steps into “that which is” so it becomes fitting to delve “that which is not” to taste it, listen for it, attempt to pick out the scent which makes it separate.

To paraphrase dialogue from the movie “The Neverending Story”:
Rockbiter: Near my home there used to be a beautiful lake, but then it was gone.
Tiny: Did the lake dry up?
Rockbiter: No, it just wasn’t there anymore. Nothing was there anymore. Not even a dried up lake.
Tiny: A hole?
Rockbiter: No, a hole would be something. Nah, it was nothing. And it got bigger and bigger. First there was no lake anymore and then finally, no rocks.

When we try to define Nothing we are left with defining what it is not. Try to think about Nothing. Your inner dialogue may look something similar to this:

“think about Nothing, empty the mind, the clock is ticking, Nothing, empty the, car driving by, Nothing, my head is a hollow bubble, filled with Nothing, clack clack of the train, sound of breathing, nothing, must focus, feed thoughts to the Nothing, sound of rushing blood go into the Nothing…” and so on.

Now, are you thinking of Nothing? No. You are thinking about: Nothing. thinking about Nothing. sound of a car. a train. the breath. your heartbeat. hunger. bubbles.

So what is Nothing not? It is not:
a void
an emptiness
a black hole
an abyss

We can break down the word “nothing” into “no thing”. And when we refer to the previous list, we see that:

A void is a place where there are no things/thoughts. “Nothing” is not a place.

An emptiness implies something with the potential to be filled. “Nothing” cannot be filled.

A black hole is a place in space which absorbs things that come too near it. Where these things end up isn’t relevant to this discussion. The mere fact that the black hole exists, means it is not “nothing”.

An abyss is a place of immeasurable depth. Again, “nothing” is not a place.

“Nothing” then becomes an intangible state of being– a lack of existence, to balance all existence. We often use “nothing” to indicate a lack of something. “Concentrate on nothing” can be roughly paraphrased “concentrate on not letting any stray thoughts wander into your conscious mind”. “what are you doing? … Nothing…” A response indicating the person is not engaged in any tasks upon which they place a high value of importance. “There is nothing I can do” can be paraphrased “All the options at my disposal, I choose not to utilize.”

Take some time to contemplate and stretch your conscious mind and allow it to approach a grasp of the antithesis to all things – the nature of “nothing”.

“The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing-
Oh, make haste!” -Omar Khayyam

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