Sometime ago I had a deeply moving dream which to me was a communication from the deeper self or reality.
In the dream I had a conversation with someone who was perhaps a Greek Sage. He said that that one of my teachers (Francis Lucille) is sharing the transmission from the lineage of Parmenidian sages. The teaching revolves around three key intuitions. Francis describes these as self-evident, meaning that they don’t need proof in order to be accepted.
In this article I discuss my understanding and implications of these teachings.
Before we proceed further it would be prudent to define a few terms.
Reality: That which exists always, eternally. It has a permanent quality which makes it real.
Being: ‘The reality that’s hearing or reading these words right now’, -Francis Lucille
Quantum Vacuum: The quantum vacuum is a quantum state with the lowest possible energy. It is not entirely empty space, instead it has electromagnetic waves and particles that pop in and out of existence.
Nothingness: Nothingness would be a total absence of matter and being. A material object, a quantum vacuum through which particles emerge or an immaterial subjective presence is not an absence. A synonym of such an absence, if there was one, would be non-being.
Thing: A thing for the sake of this article is an object that has a reality and lasts always, it has a permanence. If a thing just disappears then it is not a real thing but rather a mirage or illusion.
No-thing: At times I shall refer to no-thing which refers to “not a thing” which is different from nothing.
Intuition is a supra-rational knowing, a remembering of sorts, similar to Plato’s theory of recollection or Anamnesis (remembrance of past existences). The theory posits that the soul knows the truth before entering the human body and during the human incarnation remembers this knowledge gradually. In other philosophical traditions such as Kashmir Shaivism this deeper knowing is called ‘Anupaya‘ which is the concealed intuition that ‘all knowledge’ is ultimately contained within the soul or being. Both Kashmir Shaivism and Plato share that the reason for our satisfaction on hearing the correct answer to our question is because of a fore-knowledge, meaning that we ultimately know the answers to our questions.
Francis Lucille has a beautiful quote that also relates this inner knowing,
‘The reason you ask a question is because you feel that there’s an answer, and the reason you feel there’s an answer is because you already know the answer.’
So now coming back to the three Parmenidian teachings,
Nothing comes out of nothing. (Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit)
There is something rather than nothing.
There is only one thing
As per Francis, the contemplation of 1 & 2 leads to the inevitability of the third intuition, the intuition of oneness of reality or being. Over the years as I have contemplated these intuitions, they have always had the peculiar quality of generating new insights on one hand and a freshness on the other. There is nothing boring about them no matter how many times I return to them.
The Philosopher’s stone
A key message of the dream was that the intuition ‘Nothing comes out of nothing’ is the philosopher’s stone and one can work with it to get many diamonds of wisdom. Although I have a superficial mental understanding of what a philosopher’s stone is, in my dream I clearly understood what it signified.
The Philosopher’s stone is a deep topic in itself but I found this relevant text in the Philosopher Stone’s entry in Wikipedia. ‘According to Plato, the four elements are derived from a common source or prima materia (first matter), associated with chaos. Chaos is the mythological void state preceding the creation of the universe (the cosmos) in Greek creation myths. The prima materia is also the base for the Philosopher’s stone.’
Thus the philosopher’s stone is an entity that brings one in contact with the prima materia or the source which catalyzes an alchemical transformation turning the metaphorical lead of ignorance to the gold of wisdom.
Diamonds from the philosopher’s stone
The dream communicated the first Parmenedian intuition to be the philosopher’s stone.
‘Nothing comes out of nothing’.
Contemplating the first statement feels deeply true. It seems self-evident that no-thing can pop out of a complete absence or oblivion. It is the same intuition that gets triggered when we see a magician pull out a pigeon from the hat we knew was empty. We know that there is a trick or illusion behind it even if we can’t figure it out.
Even though it feels natural that no-thing can be created out of an absolute absence or nothing, the reverse of that,
‘Something can never disappear into nothing’ ,
didn’t feel intuitive. Maybe because most of us have a deep seated fear of our absolute disappearance or death, which indicates that we believe that something can absolutely disappear or become totally absent. In a dialogue with Francis I presented this dilemma and he wisely pointed out that I was implicitly assuming a time bound process in ‘Nothing comes out of nothing’. If time is removed as a factor then ‘Nothing comes out of nothing’ is bi-directional or non-directional.
I feel that this is a pivotal insight that shows one that anything that has being or presence can never disappear nor can it ever appear from non-being or nothing.
“Anything that has being or presence can never disappear nor can it ever appear from non-being or nothing.”
Being vs Non Being
The concept of a complete absence is just that, ‘a concept’. There’s no way to ever perceive it. A perfect vacuum devoid of matter or a subjective presence or intelligence is an impossibility. This insight can be contemplated in more than one way!
The only certainty is that ‘nothing’ is impossible.
This goes very well with another one of Parmenides teachings,
‘Being is, non-being is not’.
The Natural State of affairs
The 2nd intuition,
‘There is already something’,
points to the default state of our experience. Our experience of anything that appears to our five senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell) is already something. Even if our senses are shutdown we are left with our own presence, being or awareness. So, based on the first intuition, this something can never come out of nothing and thus can never disappear into nothing. This something is eternal!
One vs the many
The 3rd intuition says,
‘There’s only one thing’.
This is a powerful realization to have, as our sense experience is the opposite of this as we see many things. Let’s look at few ways to satisfy this oneness,
- Interaction and Unity : To simplify lets say that there are two realities or things in existence. To make the statement that two realities exist implies that they must be totally independent of each other. Because if there was any kind of dependence or an interaction between them that would imply an inter-dependence and thus a unity.
- Eternity and Unity : Based on our definition of ‘a thing’ or ‘an object’, it must exist always, eternally. Because if a thing just disappears in a moment like a bubble or in thousands of years like a mountain, then it is not really a thing. It is more like a shape appearing in smoke or a vortex appearing in a stream. So, if two independent realities exist then what differentiates them. If they are ever existing or eternal, beyond space and time then how could we differentiate them. Thus, their eternality implies a unity.
- The Witnessing Reality : Look at it another way, if an observer or presence can witness these two realities, then that presence itself is a reality that encompasses or contains these two sub realities. On the contrary, if these two realities cannot be witnessed by anyone, for all practical purposes they don’t exist. To me this is satisfying at least via reasoning and perhaps intuitively as well.
I am sure there are other insights that can be gleaned through this Parmenidian philosopher’s stone. If you have any comments or insights, please share in the comments