In my previous note I touched upon the notion of the “Nothing“. Therein, I explained that “No-thing” is really the transcendent, absolute reality beyond what we normally understand as a thing. Many may be wondering then how we come to know of this nothingness if in our finitude we are unable to grasp that which is beyond us. While I did touch up a little on how we come to know the Nothing in another note titled “Why Kalaam Fails”, I wish to explicate further here.
First, we must understand that despite being limited, we can in fact experience infinity to a degree. This may seem impossible, but it is in fact part of our very being and experience of existence itself. We must acknowledge first that our very nature points in the direction of the infinite by being able to perceive the effects of things greater than ourselves and that this, being the only nature we possess, there is no other choice, but to accept these intuitive conceptions. When we perceive purpose and design in the whole of reality we are understanding the nature of the product and that something is behind it. To suggest this is mere projection of the self is merely speculative in that it assumes that what is being perceived is in fact an illusion without giving positive justification for said reason. Similarly, to deny these intuitive conceptions is to deny the very same conceptions that allow us to produce the methods and paradigms essential to scientific inquiry and external justification. So to say that these perceptions are a matter of projection is to say that all perceptions are a matter of projection. And then what? What’s the point if these are in fact projections to claim them as such? This is all we have. So to invalidate them on the basis that they are projections (an unqualified claim from the very subjectivity of our other perceptions) is to invalidate all knowledge.
Indeed when we see the world as purposeful and designed we are merely partaking in existence itself by denying the unnecessary Cartesian dichotomy. One may suggest that because we see that particulars — rocks and trees — do not possess any purpose, design or agency, that this therefore invalidates the universal view, but this is merely a fallacy of composition (taking the parts as the sum of the whole). They may accuse us of doing likewise when we come from our subjective perception to the universal, but this is wrong also in that the way that such conclusions are reached is through the intuition of our very nature rather than induction of the lesser to the whole.
So, to begin, we are intuitively aware of that which is greater than us and it is an essential aspect of our humanity.
Still then, how does one come from seeing these signs to truly becoming aware of the Nothing? Very simple. Since we realize the signs that point in that direction, when we partake in the unity of other things we automatically negate ourselves in this completeness. We feel the very essence of freedom in the abyss of infinity. We understand then that there is an absolute existence beyond our finite existence and from there we reason, even though limited, that this Absolute is beyond “intelligence” “reason” “power” etc. and that it is the greatest.
This we call God.