All the jewels in the net encode each other. Each one, as it were, contains the whole.32

The Huayan were right. Consider any object, a. This relates to nothing (that gluon) in a very particular way. As we noted in Section 4.5, ¬𝔖x x = 無, and so 𝔄x x ≠ 無; thus, in particular, for any object, a, a ≠ 無. But the relationship between a and nothing is tighter than mere difference. Part of the quiddity of a is to be an object. (It could not be a unless it were at least an object.) And it could not be this, unless it stood out, as it were, against nothing. Its not being nothing makes it possible to be (an object). Heidegger puts it in his own distinctive terms, thus:33

The nothing is neither an object nor any being at all. The nothing comes forward neither for itself nor next to beings, to which it would, as it were, adhere. For human existence the nothing makes possible the openedness of beings as such. The nothing does not merely serve as the counterconcept of beings; rather it originally belongs to their essential unfolding as such.34

Conversely, nothing is what it is in virtue of being the ontological backdrop of every object, and so a.35

Any object and nothing are, then, like the magnetic n and s. That is, they interpenetrate. Writing ⇌ for interpenetration, and letting a an b be any two objects, we have: a ⇌ 無 ⇌ b. And since interpenetration is a transitive relation, we have the interpenetration of a and b:

a ⇌ b

Every thing interpenetrates with every thing, as the Huayan had it.

Commenting on the interpenetration of all things, Chengguan (the fourth patriarch of Huayan) noted that:36

Because they have no Selfhood, the large and the small can mutually contain each other . . . Since the very small is very large Mount Sumeru is contained in a mustard seed; and since the very large is the very small, the ocean is included in a hair.

32 Of course, this is a metaphor, and has its limitations. One would normally take the jewels to be self-standing (but interacting) entities. It is precisely this view which emptiness undercuts.

33 Heidegger (1977), p. 106.

34 The paragraph concludes: ‘In the Being of beings the nihilation of the nothing occurs.’The last sentence is one ofHeidegger’s darker sayings. I take it to mean that beings are produced when nothing negates itself. Not nothing is, after all, something. (See Priest (1995a), 2nd ed., 15.5.) I do not wish to follow Heidegger down the path of attributing agency to nothing.

35 I will return to the matter of the relationship between nothing and (other) objects in Section 13.11.

36 Quoted in Chang (1972), p. 165.

One: Being an Investigation into the Unity of Reality and of its Parts, including the Singular Object which is Nothingness by Graham Priest