Symbol: Origin And Decline

The story goes that the illiterate Hui-neng awoke to his conviction upon hearing the Diamond Sūtra recited just once at a public-square.

The Diamond [or ‘Diamond-Cutter’] Sūtra goes back to around 400 BCE and in the original is called the Maha Prajñā Pāramitha Vajrachedika Sūtra. [Yes, we will go with the English title.]

The Symbol ‘0’ seeds in the verses of the Chandogya Upaniṣad and gets formalized in the dialogues of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka.

The written documentation of these verses, itself descended from a longer Oral Teaching Tradition, goes back to around 1,000 BCE based on the style of the Sanskrit used and orienting historical references.

The trek with all its principal elements laid-out are to be found in a handful of verses [Brahmanas] in the Yājñavalkya section [Kanda] of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.

Yājñavalkya himself does not give a name for Absolute Absence leaving it to the investigator to cognize the place on arrival as found at the converging terminus of his Algorithm. The Symbol was as yet unborn.

Yājñavalkya [‘Big Y’; also as ‘Why?, a preeminent SEE’] is the Fountainhead. We’ll get to the details of his Algorithm in later Posts.

Arguably the oldest of the principal Sūtras, the Diamond Sūtra is a compilation of verses, each in the form of a Self-Eating Expression [‘SEE’], confirming its authentic ancestry. You will not find this in the Sūtras preceding or succeeding it.

It is almost certain that the Symbol ‘0’ took shape sometime between the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad and the scripting of the Diamond Sūtra.


By 200 CE or so the decline in the meaning of the Symbol commenced, a slow descent into illegitimate conceptualizations and reductive reifications.

There was an opening for a revival, and this time in the West, when it birthed what we call: ‘Scientific Method’ [Copernicus; 15th Century]. It stopped-short. Beginning presumptions, mostly of religious origin, were not allowed to be crossed. [See the Posts.]

The first translation of the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra was into Chinese in 179 CE by Lokashema [The Tao-Hsing]. With it the Symbol went East. And took on local forms.

Around 1,000 years later, the Symbol headed West and docked in Venice. And did the same [Fibonacci’s Modus Indorum].

We follow it in both directions.

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