The film, The Zero Theorem (2013) which was directed by Terry Gilliam is for me a Buddhist film. The main character Qohen is asked by management to solve the "Zero Theorem" which management hopes will prove that life is essentially meaningless in light of the Big Crunch theory which posits the idea that the universe is like an expanding soufflé that eventually will collapse on itself. Hence, the Big Crunch. This is a play off of 1+-1 =0 which suggests that everything adds up to nothing. Even Steven Hawking seems to agree.
“This may sound odd, but according to the laws of nature concerning gravity and motion, laws that are among the oldest in science, space itself is a vast store of negative energy – enough to ensure that everything adds up to zero. I’ll admit that unless mathematics is your thing, this is hard to grasp, but it’s true.”
The problem with this theory seems to be zero or in Buddhism shunya. Assuming the Big Crunch happens, our soufflé-like universe returns to the very substance from which it was composed—a kind of super nirvana. So far so good. But it is more likely that our universe is not going to crunch.
If we assume a wave-based universe, a wave being an alternating quantity of x plotted against time, zero or rather zero-phase simply reveals x or the substance x which has been alternating. Our zero is not sheer nothing, in other words. The zero is really what composes the wave like the element water showing itself as waves. The waves arise this being 1; then the waves subside, this being -1. At zero or no waves, there is only the unwaved water itself.
Based on the Lankavatara Sutra let’s regard x as absolute Mind, akin to Kingdon Clifford’s mind stuff (Clifford coined this term in 1878). Because of this, our endeavors are not meaningless. As long as we whole heartedly seek the substance of the universe, everything relative to our search has meaning for us. All alternating wave phenomena are just an expression of Mind—we just don’t recognize it since we are mesmerized by phenomena.
From a Buddhist perspective what is most primordial in us is the substance or essence of the universe which is neither 1 nor -1. While our monkey mind or our thoughts might be considered to be like 1+-1, still, at the same time, this alternation serves to disclose the immediacy of our true, primordial nature if we begin to attend to it, first out of faith. What we are going against is ignorance of our primordiality which is locked on the wave: the 1 and then the -1 back, again, to the 1 ad infinitum. We never get in phase-lock with 0 (this would be satori). Instead, we remain bound down to samsara. The meaninglessness of life is being caught up in eternal alternation without knowing what is alternating which is naturally liberated.