3. The NOTHING is the Real; the World is Really Nothing
Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s penultimate Recognition came on August 7, 1936, but there was a vital preliminary event two weeks before. His description makes it sound as if it were a purely intellectual insight, but the mind-bending content of it shows that it involved a strong intuitive precognition of the ultimate state of being. As mentioned in chapter two, his full definition of this is “Consciousness without an object and without a subject”. Informally he also refers to it as the “transcendent supersensible reality” and similar terms, all of them polysyllabic. For ease of expression, I would like to abbreviate the designation simply as OM. Merrell-Wolff was intimately familiar with this mantric term for the final ineffable reality, and might well approve its usage for our purposes here.
His premonitory insight was that although the “primordial plenum” of OM seemed empty when approached by relative consciousness, it was actually full ~ in fact it was absolute fullness, the all-encompassing substratum of the objective universe, the ultimately real substance on which relative existence was totally dependent. Furthermore, in contrast to the fullness and self-existent reality of OM, the manifest world we perceive with our senses is empty and insubstantial.
In complex but crystal-clear verbiage, Merrell-Wolff has given us the solution to the mystery of why Nirvana seems like nothingness even though its ecstasy is the supremely desirable goal of human striving. The soul ascending into these highest regions inevitably encounters what seems like the end of the line, where everything blinks out into non-being. At one stage it can be experienced as a sudden lapse into total unconsciousness or encountering a blank of infinite proportions. At a further stage of development, the soul penetrates the emptiness and/or wakes up in the blankness (which is held to be the state we enter every night in deep, dreamless sleep). The soul thereby discovers it to be not blank and empty at all, but filled with the bliss of Nirvana. There is usually total subjective certainty that one has attained the ultimate state, but in fact even here there is a subtle but decisive fissure between the perceiving subject and Nirvana as the object perceived. And this is precisely the stage that Merrell-Wolff transcended when he Recognized himself AS Nirvana. Now he was at the threshold of OM, which in this sense can be described as Nirvana apprehended in total identity with it.
He elaborated his insight into the principle that “there is most substance where the senses find least, and vice versa” ~ that the world we see around us, and the universe discerned in such great detail by science, is actually a sort of inside-out view of true reality. In order for anything to manifest, the perfect absolute Consciousness of OM must be breached by a mote of UNconsciousness ~ a part of its being must somehow go to sleep, giving rise to the dream of life. A hole must somehow appear in the primordial plenum, and from our relative point of view the hole is the world and the plenum is the blank empty space in which it floats.