Bits And Pieces

When was the last time you used a computer? Wait, you’re using a computing device right now, aren’t you? Of course you do, you’re reading something on it. Maybe in the background you have some music playing, and maybe you have some other tasks in the lingering around, like sending an email, finishing a report, or doing some research.

For that you use files and distinguish between them by their names. Or their visual representations, their icons. And what you think you do when you send an email is that some file was created and attached to an object that flies to another computer device.

But what you really did was stacking bits together.

If you really try and decompose what is in your computer or phone, you will end up in the same place: everything is just strings of zero and one, bits. Everything. The computer operating system is made of bits, the applications too, including the email one, and also the files. You start to get a gist of that when something crashes and your data gets corrupted. Then you see some gibberish instead of what you thought you added in those files.

These bits, these zeroes and ones, have no idea whatsoever about what they’re doing. There aren’t bits more prone to be used in an email app, rather than in a music file. They’re just zeroes and ones. They have no consciousness, no awareness, no intention. The way they are organized to convey meaning is entirely up to you. Well, I know, it’s a bit more complex than that, because the operating system was written by somebody else, the apps too, etc, so it might be more accurate the say that the zeroes and ones convey meaning by a collective effort. It’s a common reality build entirely with zeroes and ones.

I find this fascinating.

Because it’s the same thing with what Buddhism denotes by “emptiness”. The fabric of what we call reality is not the reality we think it is. It’s empty of meaning just like the strings of zero and one have no awareness, no consciousness. The matter of reality is inert, what makes it alive is our intention. Subsequently, our collective effort creates a common pool of experiences, that we can identify more or less the same (also known as Samsara).

We may think we’re having this and that experience, but what we’re really doing is stacking up empty forms into empty forms, just like we’re stacking bits when we’re sending an email. We’re injecting meaning into something and then combine it with other previous meanings and we form a representation. This representation is not reality. Reality is empty.

Which means you can create anything.

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