Nothing is Just One Thing

Today is such a good day.

This guy is an idiot.

What an exciting book!

On a daily basis we are surrounded by thoughts and conversations that are centered around this very human instinct to define things as one or the other – this or that. In fact, even our eyes are naturally attracted to things that are clearly defined. If you look at a photograph right now, most likely your eyes will naturally gravitate toward the point of highest contrast first – that is to say where the densest dark meets the brightest light.

And so isn’t it interesting that on such a basic level we individuals do this and yet, in the very same way, we as societies do it too. This religion is wrong and mine is right. That country is the enemy and this one is good. Those people there are weird and I’m not. Why is this tendency so pervasive in our human experience?

Well, there could be many reasons but it seems to me that there is one driving force. Without defining something, we can’t understand it. We can’t lock it away in a mental box to be saved for later. We can’t “File” “Save” it to be opened at our convenience. And therefore it becomes a source of fear for us. That which we don’t understand has always been a source of fear. Ghosts, aliens, conspiracies, burglars… anything that is unpredictable stimulates a fear response within us. And, since fear is painful, we spend most of our mental energy labeling things, defining them, so we can reduce the fear and live with a sense of control – a feeling that we have control over the world around us.

But THAT RIGHT THERE, is the biggest problem of all. We spend all this time and energy seeking control and in the end, we really don’t have any control at all. It is possible… not likely… but possible that you could be struck by lighting while reading this right now. And that possibility tosses the idea of control out the window. It renders all of our efforts to gain control in vein. And this leads us back to the concept of duality and the fact that nothing is just one thing.

Even that statement, “nothing is just one thing” can be interpreted in multiple ways. One way; no single thing is just one thing – even an apple is also a fruit and a red sphere and food and a seed-house and… The other way to look at it, however, is; the concept of nothing is, in itself, the only thing that can be considered one thing. Therefore, every single thing, concept, word, idea, person, car, material, and star is, in fact, many things. So, in order to avoid walking down the path of seeking control, and therefore endless doubt and fear, when we say things like, “Today is a good day” or “That man is a jerk,” being aware that today and that man are actually many other things all at once, can free us from the constraints of definition. Carrying with us the understanding that Nothing is just One thing can light the path of darkness and in doing so lead us in the direction of Light.


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