Śūnyatā, nothing, void or emptiness, the starting point, the nature of the Supreme Consciousness or Shiva. Śūnya, the word for zero, the Bindu beyond one and many and beyond human intellect. Sacred symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state, the point around which the cosmos is created, applied to the forehead. Śūnya, 0, the ultimate self-regulating system, the ultimate equilibrium. Even its symbol a circle is closed, admitting of no intervention.
Yet an intervention was made, a breaking open of the circle. What was capable of a spontaneous act of such creativity, such immense frivolity?
The world came into being in an act of spontaneity. There was no pre-determined reason for its creation, which was an act of total freedom. The spontaneity of this act was likened by Dante to a child at play who turns eagerly to what delights it. Such unrestrained freedom is the foundation for our own human freedom. Because we were born out of this spontaneous action we can go on believing that there is such a freedom for us. So important did Dante believe this allegorisation of creativity and play to be that it occurs at the very centre of Purgatory (XVI) and is thus the crux of the Divine Comedy as a whole.
All we have is metaphor, the intervention was made, the circle was broken open, the egg was penetrated. Swayambhu, spontaneous and self-manifested being, entered the cosmic egg, Hiraṇyagarbha. And from the breaking waters a lotus flower emerged. And creation was like that lotus flower, from which shone a brilliant light. And the name of the place came to be Swayambhu, meaning 'Self-Created or Self-Existent'. Pilgrim saints, sages and divinities venerated this transfigurative light for its power in granting enlightenment. Most holy Swayambhu, light of the lotus flower atop your wooded hill, most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in the valley of Kathmandu. Here the body of pure light was assumed, here the rainbow body achieved.
When one thinks of the lotus flower, an eternal self-existent light over which the stupa was built, one thinks too of the eternal flame of Zarathustra, symbolic of the truthfulness and creative power of Ahura Mazda who opposed the evil, untruth, arrogance and death of Angra Mainyu.
© John Dunn.