Zero emotional identification and zero intellectual attachment. It sounds like it should be easy, but it isn’t. Life has its hooks into your emotions and has shaped your ideas, and we all walk around with a massive amount of intellectual and emotional baggage. Zero is not concerned with trying to stop emotions, but with not buying into them. For the intellect, however, zero is all about weeding out our ideas and throwing them on a bonfire. Unlike the emotions, which are not under our control, but are a reaction to our environment, ideas are almost wholly under our control, and we can test their worth and throw them onto the bonfire of the vanities if desired.
In many religious traditions, the creation of the World is seen as an error – a move away from zero. Before manifestation, there was zero, but a tiny, almost imperceptible something disturbed zero, and matter was born. So it is with our nature. If we can rest at zero life becomes simpler, more peaceful and we experience contentment. Just a small positive or negative movement away from zero and we might find ourselves lost in the world of manifestation for years – maybe a whole lifetime.
The first step in the move back to zero (because we were once zero) is to acknowledge that plus or minus is not a desirable state. Plus might be some emotional excitement or the adoption of a new system of belief. Minus might be sadness at the death of a friend, or the realization that our positive thinking and visualizations are not delivering the goods. This is the nature of life – for every up there will be a down, and vice versa. The ups create pleasure, and the downs generate pain. Each life is zero, just as the total energy in the universe is zero. At any moment we may be full of hubris because something significant has happened on the plus side of life. But you can be assured that at a later point we will be despairing because it all looks hopeless. Such is the roller coaster of life once we have invested in it at an emotional level. Those who think they can just pick roses without being hurt by thorns are utterly delusional – and it is worth remembering that the self-help industry was created to perpetuate that delusion.
Intellectual zero is far easier to achieve than emotional zero, although it is still quite a challenge. We can examine our inventory of ideas, decide whether they serve any useful purpose, and discard them if they do not. There will be resistance since many ideas have been adopted simply to reinforce our world view. So someone may hold the idea that we will all be judged by a judgmental God after the death of the body. This approach serves absolutely no useful purpose, and can in no way be verified. It is imagination – pure and simple. It does, however, illustrate an important point. The ideas we hold in our minds are very often tied to emotions, and so intellectual cleansing cannot take place without parallel work on the emotions. The person who believes in a judgmental God may do so because they see so much injustice (or what they consider is an injustice), and can only deal with this by assuming some form of punishment for the offenders after death. And here we see another thing. Ideas are linked together, as are emotions. Notions of injustice will, in turn, generate concepts of right, wrong, punishment, and morality. Maybe you start to see how deep this labyrinth goes, and it is advisable that a person seeks the help of someone who has trodden this path of clearing out emotional attachments and intellectual baggage.
What is striking about most spiritual, religious and self-help doctrines is that they aim to heap more emotional and intellectual garbage on top of that a person already possesses. Any efforts toward freedom and joy should always be a stripping away process. Metaphysical systems, moral systems, rituals and the like, are exactly the opposite way to the one that brings about some form of liberation. In fact, the only thing any of us can do is clear out. And the clearing out should not be done with the aim of achieving something. This would be just another item of baggage.
It is strange that achieving zero should be the most difficult thing of all. But in a way zero is against God, against the creative power that pushes everything into motion, and so it is going to be difficult. But behind the phenomenal aspect of God (or Nature) is the un-manifest – substance as the ancients would call it, the potential for existence out of which reality emerges. Be zero, be potential.