Laya is what Science may call the Zero-point or line, the realm of absolute negativeness, or the one real absolute Force, the NOUMENON of the Seventh State of that which we ignorantly call and recognize as ‘Force’; or again the Noumenon of Undifferentiated Cosmic Substance which is itself an unreachable and unknowable object to finite perception; the root and basis of all states of objectivity and subjectivity too; the neutral axis, not one of the many aspects, but its centre.—The Secret Doctrine, i 148
The arcane conception of laya and the modern notion of a neutral axis are applications of what might be called the zero principle. According to the Stanzas of Dzyan, the formation of a cosmos proceeds through a primordial set of seven laya centres, noumenal points in metaphysical space that mediate between the unmanifest and the manifest. From an ‘objective’ standpoint, a laya centre is a point of rarefied matter wherein all differentiation has ceased. Given the cosmogonic distinction between undifferentiated matter and differentiated matter, theoretically there must be a point at which differentiation commences and also a point at which differentiation ceases. This is sometimes called the zero point. Zero as a general concept originated among the Hindus and was transmitted through the Arabs into Europe in the fourth century. It is a natural accompaniment of the decimal system, also an invention of Hindu thinkers, since the one and the zero are metaphysical correlates of each other.
These fundamental conceptions exist within a broader philosophical framework which is metaphysical and postulates that the whole universe progressively emanates from a Divine Ground. This Ground is empty of all form, prior to all differentiation and is often designated by the term shunyata, meaning ‘Voidness’ or ‘Emptiness’. Thus, in its first and foremost philosophic meaning, the zero principle refers to that No-Thing which is equally the maximal and universal potential of the cosmos. This is the primary paradox of the zero, which, as a glyph, portrays the maximum potential that can be confined within an irreducible minimum space. Ultimately, when speaking of zero one is speaking of a point. That is, the zero contracts to an invisible minute zero, which is no other than a metaphysical or mathematical point. Such a point, representing the limit of an abstract capacity to contain potentiality within minimal space, is a depiction on the conceptual plane of the realm of absolute negation. The crucial significance of these abstruse ideas is that space is more real than anything it contains. Invisible metaphysical space is more real than anything perceivable by any human being.
A second major aspect of the zero is that it encompasses everything. It represents that which is complete while at the same time it represents that which is No-Thing. This feature of completeness is also present in the idea of a sphere, a kind of three-dimensional zero, metaphorically represented in all those ancient myths that speak of the womb of space and the cosmic egg. All of these allude to the principle of plenitude, the plenum within the voidness of the egg or a sphere. Thus, in addition to the idea of maximal containment within a minimum of space, the zero also signifies the idea of self-sufficiency and all-completeness. A third significant aspect of the zero is that it abides in itself without any external reinforcement. It is without a source, anupadaka, parentless. It represents the anti-entropic principle; it is inherently indestructible and incapable of running down. As the zero is intrinsically capable of self-maintenance, it signifies that principle in Nature which is the basis of all paradigms of perpetual motion and also of instantaneous, telepathic communication throughout space.
Such intuitive ideas are very much in the air in our time – if not yet within the acknowledged sciences, at least within that penumbra of imaginative conceptions called science fiction. Nonetheless, they are no more than a dim foreshadowing of those facts of Nature which are fully known, at every moment, to enlightened beings. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continually experience metaphysical truths as tangible facts, whilst these same truths serve as tantalizing conceptions and imaginative ideals to ordinary human beings. The profound truths inherent in the zero principle will, for some time, stand as inaccessible ideals for modern science, primarily because they cannot be conclusively established by any known empirical methods, nor can they be comprehended in terms of any conventional framework of ideas which imposes arbitrary limitations upon the untapped capacities of human beings. Nevertheless, if one approaches the subject philosophically, one may discern that throughout Nature, in all material manifestation and in all differentiated forms of consciousness and energy, there must be points joining and separating distinct phases of differentiation. In a remarkable passage linking together conceptions crucial to the process of cosmic manifestation and the idea of Nirvana so central to the path towards enlightenment, H.P. Blavatsky declared:
No world, as no heavenly body, could be constructed on the objective plane, had not the Elements been sufficiently differentiated already from their primeval Ilus, resting in Laya. The latter term is a synonym of Nirvana. It is, in fact, the Nirvanic dissociation of all substances, merged after a life-cycle into the latency of their primary conditions. It is the luminous but bodiless shadow of the matter that was, the realm of negativeness – wherein lie latent during their period of rest the active Forces of the Universe.—The Secret Doctrine, i 140
From Hermes Magazine, February 1986