Esther is away. My mother is restless today. “Oh, Amy,” she says. “Give me something…”
“What do you need?”
“I’m too many,” she says. “I wish I was one.”
“You are one, Mom. And I am one beside you.”
On the radio, Krista Tippett is talking with physicist Leonard Mlodinow about ‘zero’, the numeral which represents ‘nothing’ yet contains everything.
Discovered by Hindu mathematicians in the 6th century, there was no mark for ‘emptiness’ for ‘nothing’ before then. The other numbers were there – all lined up in neat rows. But nothing to explain the point expanded outward to its edge, encircled by an open moon of … what was out there?
When they discovered this principle, mathematicians were confused. “It’s nonsense!” they scoffed. Absurd. Zero frightened people so much that Aristotle argued it should be outlawed.
But it was needed as a placeholder between the other integers, a spaciousness without which everything else would collapse back into a singularity. The many back to one. The fragments shimmering back into wholeness.
Can you see this? I just did.
Zero is the principle of spaciousness. It’s breath, invisible, infinite, surrounding all that is, an unseen sea of responsiveness, always there yet always pressing in on us even as it presses open the air sacs of the lungs so we can live. Zero is the still point. The moment between moments. It’s the white space between inhale and exhale. Between every integer of the world of forms.
In Samkya yoga, Purusha is the soul, the Self, pure consciousness, and the only source of consciousness. The word literally means “man.” Prakriti is that which is created, nature in all her aspects. Prakriti literally means “creatrix,” the female creative energy. Working together, Man and Creatrix , consciousness and matter bring creation to life.
There is something in this about source code. About the binary switches which, turned on or turned off make everything what it is and is not. I learned about this in biology. And later, when I was a systems analyst, I learned it again.
Shiva swirling through Shakti. Purusha pressing apart the particles of Prakriti, penetrating her everywhere. Life is tiny pinholes of spaciousness piercing matter.
Zero is the story before it forms, the heart of the author, waiting. Zero is consciousness. Zero is the expanded view which makes room for breath. In zero, the spaciousness is deep and wide enough for the many.
This morning, I dreamed of zero (in a way). I dreamed that a boy could see something that no one else could see. A rain was coming that would change the world, he said. Weather reports were consulted, maps scanned. There is no rain, everyone said but “Yes there is,” the boy said. “It’s coming.”
The producer flew in, landing clumsily, barking orders at everyone, he seemed to fill all the space with the intensity of his power. Yet everyone looked to the boy. What if he was right? What if all of their instruments and measurements were wrong? Then, they looked at the producer. What if all of his blustering and bullying were nothing but noise? They looked back to the boy. Waiting.
As I woke up, I heard these words: You are two-thirds muscle and bone, the other third is magic and miracles.
These are the kinds of things I hear now when I allow myself to listen. These are the things anyone might hear when we set aside our fear of the real.
What is the real? The emergent, everything all at once firehose of light and music and sound, the scent of freshly-baked croissants, the deepening shadows as the day yields to evening, the snow, lightly frosting the ground.
The real is everything we can look upon because there is zero – the world inside of which we live. This morning, I understood this for a moment.
When I was 28, I met a man who read the future, a Dutch seer whose passport said Clairvoyant. His name was M.B. Dykshoorn and he told me, “You have the gift of imagery.”
And though I was there to talk about something else entirely, I understood what he meant. That is to say, 1/3 of me knew.
The other two-thirds, the muscles and bones, were concerned with a different sort of magic. “Will I ever have a baby?” I asked, desperate with longing – and he assured me that I would.
“You will have a boy and then a girl,” he said, and he told me how to get pregnant and it all worked out as he foretold.
Zero is funny that way, holding the space between one thing and another, so everything can be born.