The current theories to the effect that the Void does not in fact mean what it says, that it is not emptiness, is not nothing but is only emptiness of something, imply that it is something, and moreover something in something.

Surely this is shirking the truth: it is everything we think we know, therefore it must be nothing we know. It is Nothing, therefore everything is. Were it anything there could not be anything. It is precisely because it is Nothing that there can be anything. Either one sees this or one does not: it is evident, but it cannot be proved.

'Form is emptiness', says the Heart Sutra (the Heart of the Prajna-paramita), 'and emptiness is form'. Then it explains: 'Emptiness is nothing but form, and form is nothing but emptiness.' Finally it completes the definition by adding: 'Apart from emptiness there is no form, and apart from form there is no emptiness.' In other words: 'Apart from nothing there is no anything, and apart from anything there is no nothing.' Or again, 'Apart from our phenomenal world there is no Void, and apart from the Void there is no phenomenal world.'

The Void then is nothing, absolutely nothing - and Nothing is absolutely everything. For both exist only in mind.

All talk about the Void being this and that, not meaning that and the other, is not only baulking the issue - it is shutting oneself off from the truth. It is necessary to realise that the Void means exactly Nothing, and that exactly Nothing is all that there is. And that that is the reason why anything can appear to be. Otherwise one has the whole situation the wrong way round, for one continues to think that reality is positive, something positively existing, of which the negative is inconceivable. But reality itself is negative, and its positive is just appearance, and both are concepts of the split or samsaric mind. In whole-mind reality is neither positive nor negative - for there is nothing of the kind. Reality simply IS NOT.

This seems to be the Essential Doctrine of the Prajna-paramita, revealing the illusion which constitutes the bondage of Samsara, the barrier which prevents mind from knowing itself as no-mind, pure negativity or the absolute unconscious.

(© RKP, 1963)

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