Chapter 12: Only Knowing Remains
How can the one exist without the other? One cannot exist without the other. You cannot conceive of the figure one without other figures - two, three, four, five. Many mathematicians have worked it out, particularly Leibniz in the West. He has tried to drop the nine digits, figures. Instead of nine he uses only two: one and two. In his calculations, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine are dropped, because he said it is just superstition to continue using ten figures. Why continue using ten figures?
You may not have observed: ten figures exist in mathematics not by any planning, but just because we have ten fingers. The primitives used to count on the fingers, so ten became the basic figure and it has been taken all over the world. These ten figures, this basis of all arithmetic, was produced in India. That’s why even today in all languages the words that denote these ten figures are basically Sanskrit: two is dwi, three is tri, four is chaturth, five is panch, six is shashta, seven is sapta, eight is ashta, nine is nava. These are basic roots.
These ten counting figures, these ten digits, Leibniz says are useless. And science must try to work with the minimum, so he tried to minimize the digits. But he could not minimize more than two, he had to stop at two. So in Leibniz’s system there is one, two, and then comes ten; three means ten, four means eleven, and so on, so forth. But he had to at least concede two, because just one cannot be conceived. You cannot use only one digit, at least two are needed - the minimum requirement. The moment you say one the two is implied, be-cause one can exist only by the side of two. So the Upanishads never say that the Brahman is one, the truth is one; rather they use a negative term, they say he is not two. So one is implied but not directly asserted.
Secondly, about the total we cannot assert anything positive, we cannot say what it is. At the most we can say what it is not, we can negate. We cannot say directly, because once we say anything directly it becomes defining, it becomes a limitation. If you say one, then you have limited; then a boundary has been drawn, then it cannot be infinite. When you simply say it is not two there is no boundary - the implication is infinite.
The Upanishads say that the divine can be defined only by negatives, so they go on negating. They say, “This is not Brahman, that is not Brahman.” And they never say directly, they never assert directly. You cannot point to the Brahman with a finger because your finger will become a limitation. Then Brahman will be where your finger is pointing and nowhere else. You can point to the Brahman only with a closed fist so you are not pointing anywhere - or, everywhere.
This negativity created many confusions, particularly in the West, because when for the first time the West came upon the Upanishads in the last century and they were translated - first in German, then in English, and then French and other languages - it was a very baffling thought, because The Bible defines God positively. Jews, Christians, Mohammedans define God very positively, they say what he is. Hinduism defines God totally negatively, they say what he is not.