By Dr.Toshala Elliott
Meditation changes perspectives. That, at least, is one of the results I have derived from more than a couple of decades of close personal observation of my own meditation experiences. Not necessarily from the meditations themselves but from the gradual evolution of conscious understanding that has subtly changed the way one views things inwardly. (I hear you say…‘What?’) For instance, take infinity as an example – at school I was taught in mathematics that infinity is a stupendously large number that cannot possibly be imagined, but which may be used in mathematical calculations as a variable (∞) that may be multiplied, divided or subtracted.
∞ – ∞ = 0
There it is, in a nutshell: What Maths Taught Me.
At the time this seemed rational and sensible, and enabled the minds of us teenaged students to comprehend infinity, pop it in a finite box, and use it at will. Even in casual conversation, if you wished.
Despite this education, for a long time the feeling has been growing in me that a philosophy that believes that infinity can be bounded by a hypothesis and used in mathematical equations is a limited one. One of the things that meditation enables one to understand is that the mind cannot fathom vastness, much less infinity. The universe itself is unable to be appraised by a mentality that requires boundaries and criteria to understand something. It can, however, be envisaged – and even felt – by the heart. The heart is the body’s seat of ancient peace and wisdom, this is where the soul resides, and where all the unknowable becomes clear… if you listen. And this is where the liberating understanding that infinity is a concept rather than a number, and is constantly transcending itself, springs from. In order to discuss infinity, the mind (and hence education) ascribes to it a substance, thereby pre-assuming finite parameters to infinity itself. However, this is a contradiction to infinity, which has neither substance nor finite boundaries and which cannot therefore be ascribed the conventions of traditional arithmetic.
An ancient philosophical concept from the Upanishads sums it up nicely by saying, “When infinity is taken away from infinity, infinity remains,” which – it turns out – is .
∞ – ∞ = ∞
Simply put: the philosophy of the heart – that imposes no finite boundaries on infinity – has an advanced understanding that infinity actually, really is……….infinite!