I am reading “Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story” by Jim Holt. This is one of the best books I have ever read. In his book Holt examines the fundamental question “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
I have been preoccupied with this question ever since I was a high school student. Throughout history, all thoughtful men and women have pondered this question and nobody was able to provide satisfactory intellectual answers. Sages tell us that the only satisfying answer is the experience of Self-realization – discovering the true identity of the soul.
I was amazed to learn from this book that there are hundreds of intellectual answers given by the philosophers and scientists throughout history. Holt does a thorough job of summarizing all the Western answers for us. I know how hard it is to cover all philosophers in all history so it is understandable that Holt does not give enough credit to Eastern philosophers. It is all right! Great personalities do not need the intellectuals to translate their teachings for them nor do they need credit for their teachings. Humanity will always remember the answers given by Shiva, Krishna, Tehuti, Ibn al-Arabi, Rumi, and Haji Bektash Veli, among many others.
I am sure I will talk about this important book again in the future. I have so much to say on the “Why is there something rather than nothing?“question. I have already written a lot on the subject of “Being” (Consciousness) but I have written very little on the subject of “void” so far. I simply registered my objections to the overuse of the terms like nothing, nothingness and void by the physicists and philosophers. I will provide more detailed critiques in the future. Today, however, I wanted to make a single point which may shed some light on the discussions.
zero is not null
As far as I can tell, all discussions of void or nothingness (or vacuum) refer to the concept of zero. There is another concept used in computer programming and data storage. Anyone who deals with databases knows that a database record can have either “null” value or some actual value. For example, a database record can contain the value 0 (zero) or can simply be null. Zero is not null. They are different.
Philosophers should be clear about what they mean by “nothingness” or “void”. Do they mean zero or null?
It is interesting that when we examine the database record in the computer memory at the bit level we see that 0 (zero) definitely takes bit space. The surprising fact is that even the “null” takes bit space too. Both representations (0 or null) are based on bits which are implemented on a physical substrate.
Similarly, there is an ultimate (absolute) substrate. We call it Consciousness (“C” is capitalized). We call it Absolute Being. We call it Brahma. There are many other names. This absolute substrate is the ground of being. The so-called void or nothingness is similar to zero in the sense that the “void” is simply a representation appearing on the absolute substrate of Consciousness. There is so much more to say on this.
Most of the arguments I hear for nothingness or void are arguments for zero which is not null. Void is not null.
There may be cosmic representations similar to null. Even the cosmic null will be a representation on the substrate of Consciousness.