Another Book of Nothing
© Patrick Lewis 2007/Revised 2021
‘Another’ Book of Nothing?
Well, firstly, there already exist a few ‘Books of Nothing’, the oldest and most significant being otherwise known as the Hsin-Hsin Ming, or ‘Verses on the Perfect Mind’ by Seng-ts’an, or Sosan, the Third Patriarch of Zen, of which the opening verse is:
The Great Way is not difficult,
for those who have no preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion,
and it reveals itself.
Secondly, does anything have any ultimately enduring value or existence here? Doesn’t it all come down to nothing in the end? Of all the events and happenings, thoughts and feelings we have experienced in all the seconds, minutes, hours, days and years of our lifetimes, not to mention our bodies themselves – what really endures and what finally remains? Indeed how can anything retain any significance or meaning in this realm of time - this constant flow of ever-changing matter and thoughts like drops of water that are indistinguishable in the moving torrent of a great river?
Thirdly, there is the nothing that is emptiness – the essential backdrop to the perception of anything, even perception itself – as utter stillness is to motion or time, silence to sound, no taste to taste, and the empty screen or whiteness of the page on which these words appear. Our ever-passing thoughts display themselves, and our senses and their objects both become apparent, all in an otherwise essentially empty mind - a mind which, in appearing to take their form brings into existence both a perceiver and that which is perceived while not itself being being affected nor defined by either, like water or a mirror by the reflections therein. In the final analysis therefore, there remains nothing as such that can conclusively verify whether anything in fact exists or not, including the very notion of existence itself.
Within the expanse of spontaneous presence is the ground for all that arises.
Empty in essence, continuous by nature, it has never existed as anything whatsoever,
yet arises as anything at all.
Longchen Rabjam, The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena
Such is the underlying basis of the musings that follow as 'Another Book of Nothing'.