The earliest Mahāvākyam, summary capture of primal Dharmic Truth, is from the Chandogya Upaniṣad (3.14.1.):
Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma: ‘All [this] is Brahman‘.
Brahman is from the root ‘Brh‘, ‘To Uphold, Support’. Brahman is ‘That which upholds’. It was originally a Mantric expression for Yagnic formalities interpreted synonymously with ‘That’.
What is Brahman? I don’t know. In fact I can never know what Brahman is. And why not? Because I am part of this ‘All’, whatever this ‘All’ is. Else it wouldn’t be the ‘All’.
So how do I go about locating Brahman? There is a problem. A big problem. And what is the problem?
I can’t locate ‘Everything’ while sitting on my rocker because ‘Everything’ includes me sitting on my rocker. And it includes me thinking about locating ‘Everything’ while sitting on my rocker. And…ad infinitum.
I can’t in other words, apply my well-worn contact-lenses that nicely repackages the world along the ‘Subject-Object Divide’, something I need to do in order to say anything about anything. With ‘Everything’ that option is nulled.
Here’s a clip I wrote once about the origins of Self-Reference in Classical Logic:
‘In looking for ‘Nothing’, you must remember to exclude any sensory, cognitive or affective representation of it as Object. ‘Nothing’ is radically exclusive, hence inexpressible except as Self-Negating Expression.
In looking for ‘Everything’, you must remember to include the Looking-Subject. ‘Everything’ is radically inclusive and hence inexpressible except as Self-Negating Expression.’
The Symbol ‘0’, the original Self-Negating Expression, is a synthetic construct that was put together with the very specific objective of helping the investigator get to the bottom of all this.
In particular, this ‘I’.
The symbol ‘0’ has been around for a long time. But the symbol ‘∞’ for ‘Infinity’ however is relatively new, less than 500 years old, coincident with the birth of Science and its need for abstract measurements [the Universe is ‘Finite but Unbounded’?!].
The grizzled Dharmic monks and the geezers around the fountain-square in old Athens didn’t like the word very much, rarely used it. [It parallels their reluctance to grant the ‘Principle of Induction’ the status of ‘Law’]. And why not?
‘Infinity’ is from the Latin In-finitas, for ‘Unbounded, Unbordered’. The bells should go off right there. To give definition is to mark a boundary. And here we begin by defining something as the ‘Unbounded’ [‘The Origin of Language And The Definition of Definition’].
From the Isavasya, the briefest of the principal Upanishads: ‘When taken away from the Infinite Whole [Purnam], the Infinite Whole remains the Infinite Whole’.
Infinity minus ten trillion is still Infinity. That’s what this formally ‘Undefined Concept’ is. ‘Infinity’ is that which doesn’t budge when you take something away from it. Or add something to it.
We don’t quite know what Infinity is. But we are quite sure that ‘Infinity plus one’ is the same as it. The functional definition of this idea has remained pretty much the same since antiquity.
‘Infinite Regress’? A term coined to suggest its user needs serious psychiatric help. The resolution of the Self-Eating Expression is ‘Infinite Regress’ in its most militant form.
The idea of ‘Infinity’ has long attracted the mathematically adventurous. And the philosophically credulous.
The always effective threat of the Preacherman: ‘Thou shalt fry for all Eternity’ [Infinity on a Time-Axis].
Have you ever had the compelling desire to fly faster than Light? Yes? We’ll, you can’t do it. And why can’t you do it? The folks who worked out the Theory of Relativity found that as you approach the speed of Light, the amount of energy needed to move you [or for that matter, a single electron] ‘Tends to Infinity’.
While you snuggle into the empty space of a vacuum tube [‘Tends to Zero’], enthusiastic Scientists are vigorously seeking a ‘Theory of Everything’. Any such theory, by that very fact, invalidates itself.
The understanding of the symbols: 0 [Zero], ∞ [Infinity], 1 [One] and I [‘Self’] are mutually inseparable.
In other words, you understand all four. Or you understand none.
There is a fifth symbol: ? [‘God’]. It is a waste of time to go after it until you are in view of the other four.