The Magic of Zero – From Mathematics To Zen

Zero is a special number! It encircles everything and nothing at the same time.

From the pioneers of mathematics to the seers of ancient wisdom, the mystical nature of zero has fascinated all of them.

In this meditation session, I use the psychological impression of mathematical ‘Zero’ as a meditation technique to create and hold an inner emptiness, a.k.a. ‘Shunyata’ in Yoga; a.k.a the Zen state.

What is inner emptiness?

We have become accustomed to define and understand ‘emptiness’ in a negative sense. With a materialistic conditioning, emptiness may be felt as an absence of material and hence in a wrong direction; on the contrary, for our inner world, emptiness is the direction to go. If there is one word that can contain teachings of wisdom lighthouse such as Buddha, it would be ‘Shunyata’ – a state of absolute emptiness.

Inner emptiness is a place within our consciousness where there is no impact of thought, emotion and all other contents of body-mind, and there is only awareness. In other words, it is the experience of pure consciousness.

Not that there are no thoughts or emotions, but the experiencer of those thoughts and emotions isn’t there. The experiencer has merged back into experiencing.

Try to understand it from the life of my uncle in India.

The uninvited guest

As it is a part of culture in India to receive uninvited guest and attend them whenever they wish to show up at your door, one of my uncles got annoyed by just being busy serving guests one after the other all the time. So he decided to play a trick, he told his servant to attend the doorbell and tell the guests that he is not there in the house right now, hoping that this would not be an impolite way of turning the guests away. 

Next instance when the doorbell rang, as instructed the servant went to the door, and said, “Sir said, he is not in right now”. My uncle who was listening from the back put this palm on the face, had to come out and attend the guests to not offend them any further.

As long as the host is in the house, guests will have to be attended.

As long as there is an experiencer, wanting to experience or not wanting to experience, there will be an experience. Only when there is emptiness, there is only experiencing.

How to achieve inner emptiness?

When there are no or less contents of the body-mind to engage the awareness, the consciousness expands in an infinitely large ‘space’, beyond the space-time experience. Two things have to be done:

  1. Reducing the body-mind content engagement – By the zero technique
  2. Let go of the experiencer – by not reacting and rather remaining silent

The zero technique

“Whatever comes in contact with the Zero, Becomes the Zero”

The trick is to remember it like a mantra that whatever comes in contact with the Zero, becomes the Zero; and apply it to mindful breathing. Read the meditation steps below and try it out:

Meditation Steps

1. Create a zero inside yourself

a. Find yourself a comfortable sitting posture where your back is straight. Take a few deep breaths – inhaling and exhaling from the nose to allow the body and mind to settle.

b. Breathe naturally and bring your awareness to the breath. Visualise your inhalation and exhalation forming a circle, a zero and let that visualisation become stronger, brighter.

c. Maintain your awareness inwards on the zero created by your breath. Whatever arises in your consciousness, all the contents of your mind – thoughts, emotions, ideas, plans etc. – let them burn in the energy of zero. 

d. Repeat this for 10 mins until there is a clear peaceful emptiness created inside your consciousness.

e. Observe the zero within you for some more minutes.

2. Let go of the Zero – No action, No reaction

a. Let go of all effort, any focus on the breath or the zero. Don’t try to modify, disturb, or raise any other feelings into the experience by e.g. feeling ‘successful’ from having achieved the emptiness or feeling disappointed by not.

b. Maintain silence for another 10-15 mins

P.S: This meditation session #3111 was given on the 25th of May 2019 in Basel, Switzerland.

If you have any questions regarding your meditation journey, feel free to reach out to me.

Keep meditating.


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