‘Not’ And The ‘Ña’ Family

The two midgets: ‘Is’ and ‘Not’. Two words unparalleled in their ability to create mischief. I’ll get to the first later; for now, the ‘Not.

Not; Null; Nothing; Nonsense; Never; Neither; Neutral, Nought, Naught. They all come from the same gene, the Sanskrit ‘Ña’.

All the above share a common gene, are members of one big troublesome joint-family. [I know of no word that more annoys a trained Logician than the word ‘Not’.]

And here is how the mischief begins:

North America and South America to gether make up the Americas. But North America and Not-North America?

We are not quite sure what exactly is: ‘North America and Not-North America’.

‘Not quite sure?’ That’s right. Not quite sure.

And not quite sure what exactly: ‘Not quite sure’ means.

Nor the above sentence. Nor this one…

Note the self-referential trail.


I’ll get to the Sanskrit expressions Pūjyam, Śūnyam, Śūnya et al, in detail in a later separate Post. The earliest written documentation of the oral rendering of Śūnyatha goes back to about 500 BCE. But their English translations go back less than 200 years.

The original expressions each have multiple definitions [6 to 7 in some cases], as used by commentators through history. And each has been used at times in sharply different ways: Pūjyam as absence and fullness, Śūnyathā as emptiness of objects, Śūnyam as the concept of nothing as opposed to True-Nothing, and so on.

It gets complicated because of the translators borrowings from the vocabulary of Classical Logic [Empty, Null] where there is no exact correspondence for some pivotal terms [e.g. ‘Emptiness’ for Śūnyatha; ‘Form’ for NamaRupa [Rupa] and so on].

The translators did the best they could under difficult conditions. But unfinished modern gurus, unknowing of their source, have done a stentorian job of confusing the matters much further.

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