The Still Mind

Our world observed from stillness

The Infinity of One


Image courtesy

The number “one” is something that many may not find very significant of a figure, for it seemingly only includes that which we have come to know as “single”. “One is the loneliest number” describes the collective attitude toward a number which symbolizes isolated loneliness. But what if I were to tell you that a representation of the entirety of all that is, can be found within the number “one”, and that it can be used to illustrate the very workings of all existence? Would you believe me?

To begin with, I will start by introducing a subject which I have been studying on and off for a while now, but recently picked it up with full force. That subject is fractals. To define this briefly, fractals are an infinite set of repeating self-similar patterns, existent on all scales of measurement and magnification (see my paper on the holographic nature of reality for further reading). In other words, fractals are figures that are made up of the same pattern over and over again, reaching for infinity, essentially revealing “empty form”. All of nature, and the entire universe are rendered fractal expressions. It is not a fundamental principle–it is the principle. Fractals describe emptiness brilliantly, because fractals in fact ARE empty.

The well-known symbol of fractal geometry, the Mandelbrot Set, possess an eye-dazzling array of colors and dynamic designs, and it is worth studying for this reason alone. However, there is far more to the Mandelbrot Set than meets the eye, for it is the essence of what fractals are. When looking at the set from a “high” vantage point (as seen in the figure below), one can see the circular shape of a darkened beetle-like figure. Upon zooming in to attempt to observe the details, one will find an interesting phenomenon: the “solidity” of the detail seems to give way to more generations of the same design. When one delves further still, there exists more of the same thing. It’s as if there is no absolute structure comprising this figure, and one would be right in coming to such a conclusion, for this “psychedelic mind trip” pattern goes on infinitely. In other words, essentially, despite the fact that there clearly was a form present when we started, deeper investigation uncovers a “bottomless pit” phenomenon, where the form gives way to further self-similar constituents. It truly has no things making it up at all–it is empty. Taking this emptiness a bit further, it is clear to anyone who takes the time to look, that nature operates with the exact same formula as the Mandelbrot Set. All things that exist, from plants to humans to planets, all have no defining structure at their core. To see to the “core” of anything, all one needs to possess is the right instruments.

mandelbrot set

Mandelbrot Set – Image courtesy:

The study of fractals lends to helping one understand centuries old wisdom, like that of Zen masters who propounded that emptiness is in fact form; form is emptiness (a principle tenant of the well-known Heart Sutra). This is a principle which modern science is discovering more and more, and pervades all facets of reality, from “physical” forms, to intangible components such as thoughts, even the POTENTIAL awareness of an organism, resultant of the amount of processing power it has (we high-functioning humans are a perfect example when compared to, say, a fly).

But how does this all relate to the number one, you may ask? Well let us examine the number and see what we get.

Fractal "one"

Fractal “one”

Upon initial inspection, “one” is nothing special. But ask yourself, what makes up a “one”? Well, a “one” is constituted of two halves (1/2 and 1/2). These halves again are constituted of halves, and the resultant halves constituted of halves still. How long can the generation of halving numbers extend to? Infinity. Why? Because a limit is never reached, because the value keeps getting reduced. Now, despite the fact that we are going down in scale, a counterintuitive thing occurs, and that is that the amount of numbers (not the VALUE in this case) increases. In my exploration into this phenomenon, I make the analogy of the body to numbers. The “one” represents the body, the next generation represents the organs for instance, the next generation the cells, the next generation the organelles of the cells, the next the molecules, then the atoms and so on. One will note that like in nature, as the scale decreases, just like with the numbers, the amount increases, which can lend to explaining the unfathomably large amount of atoms that exist in the universe. We can also take “one” and go in the opposite direction, adding two ones to get two, three etc., creating “communities” of bodies. All of these bodies (numbers) are made of emptiness.

It is reasonable to assume that due to the very existence of infinity in these terms, that infinity is a property of the universe, and thus there exists levels far beyond the perceived “basement” Plank Scale (10-35)–likewise in the opposite direction. There is quite literally an infinite amount of potential possibilities within any and everything–infinity within general space, within our bodies, and most importantly for us, within our minds.


More from The Still Mind:

You Are a Hologram – The Holographic Nature of Consciousness and Reality

Disappearing Body Meditation

The Gland That Puts the “EYE” in InSIGHT

100 Benefits of Meditation


Author: Garrett S.

I am a writer, researcher, and 3D CG generalist, who developed a strong penchant for meditation and spiritual practices. I've incorporated that background into my current work manning the helm in directing my own personal animated projects, most notably of which is my "Mr. G" series, and "The Ville".

3 thoughts on “The Infinity of One

  1. From a psychological standpoint, one also holds the power of the ego, implying only I know what is true. That each religion sees itself as possessing the one truth. I have often thought that the concept of one is both beautiful and dangerous… A fractal is an entity that lies between dimensions. The Cantor set is a fractal with dimension between 0 and 1. Start with a line segment as initiator, and then delete the middle third of the segment, and continue to do so until you’re left with fractal dust, but it is not nothing. Fractals possess some truly interesting features, such as the Koch curve that is infinitely long(unbounded perimeter), but has a finite area! Fractals are indeed fascinating entities, and approximate features of our natural landscape. We can add more variables, and come closer to what our landscape looks like, but it gets sloppy, and our models seem arbitrary. However, as mathematician John Engelhardt(Southern Oregon University) says: “Life does not have an exact solution. It is not an exact science. It’s a whole conglomeration of imprecise and unpredictable movements. Sloppy? Yes, in certain ways. Sloppy and beautiful.”

    • Yes, indeed fractals are intriguing. The Cantor set, I’m familiar with, yes. Just can be a little precarious to lock limitations of individual perception, physical ability, and/or instrumentation into a box confining them to the realm of limitation, unless everything is truly known to be so. And since we’re still searching, I’m guessing that it isn’t. Often times, there is always the need for the brain to quantify things into perceptual containers, naming things this and that, and saying this is not that, and that is not this. When that is done, it blocks off possibilities for the potential of things that lie outside of intuitive understanding and reasoning, to amass together and spark insight. Good, bad, like, dislike. The ring of a bell is simply “thusness”. The danger with limiting thought processes to concepts, in fact creates limits, for the same reason that a person walking in a gorilla suit in broad daylight can be missed by someone engaged in deep conversation or focused activity.
      Thank you for reading

      • There is also Magritte’s Paradox: “If we look at a thing with the intention of discovering what it means, we end up no longer looking at the thing itself, but thinking of the question that is being raised.”

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