What is Zero?
The “zero” (or mathematical zero) that we know today was first materialized in India around 650 AD. It was conceived as a placeholder to recognize “nothingness;” to perform complex calculations. The original sign for zero, or dots under the numbers, was also called “sunya” — a concept from ancient Indian philosophy to describe “emptiness,” “void,” or “sky.”
While mathematical zero emerged as an essential element to advance science in the modern world, “sunya” continued to inspire various forms of art and philosophy in many Asian countries. Buddhists especially devoted themselves to the issue of “emptiness” and “void.”
In far East Asia, the Chinese character “空“ represents the concept: it means sky, void and emptiness. The same character is used to describe the vast blue sky that embraces us, an empty bottle, and a hollow. And by the way, the martial art “Karate” also uses “空.” Karate means “empty hands.” Did you have to wonder how we can fight with empty hands? Once you know more about Zero, you will know why a martial art had to have such an apparently contradictory name.
Briefly spoken, Zero is a lens available to us all to flip the perspective of what exits and what does not, or what’s here and what’s not.
With a Zero lens, we no longer have to define “void” or “emptiness” as “nothingness” or “none-ness,” because they transcend to something much, much bigger and abundant.
A Zero lens unleashes us from material limitation. With Zero, you are free from external constraints. When you are not bound by constraints, you become resilient.
Zero can take various forms, but we start from the Zen-inspired culture that became crystallized during the Middle Ages in Japan.