The Basic Concept
Whatever might be the origin of this Universe, of one thing we can be reasonable sure, that it is within "nothing at all". If it "started", then it must have started from nothing at all. It always was, this it has nothing at all around it. Whatever there might be beyond this "nothing at all" we have no way of knowing for we are within it and of this Universe and have no concept beyond it.
This idea of nothing at all is a most difficult one to come to grips with, but it is an absolute necessity to an understanding of even the first ideas of cosmology. Nothing at all means exactly what it says: NOTHING AT ALL; no space, no time, no substance, no energy, no change. To approach it one must slough off all reality and proceed deliberately into the void of nothingness. It is something extremely personal which must be experienced by the individual as a basic exercise; it is something which cannot be "taught". Most people recoil from the idea of nothing at all, feeling that it is akin to annihilation, which it is, but we must know of "nothing at all" before we can understand the basic concept upon which our Universe is built. Subsequent lessons are futile without this basic understanding.
Having become aware of nothing at all, there is only awareness and nothing at all, and Awareness injects into nothing at all a concept which will render it unique. Since no concept of any kind can be defined except in terms of that which is more basic, this Concept cannot be defined, and we may use it only in defining concepts which are less basic. Since this Concept is the basis of our Universe, its derivatives must be the basic parameters of it, and in itself it must remain the nameless Reality.
We do not know if this basic Reality exists independently from Awareness or whether one is the consequence of the other; or whether in the final analysis they are in fact one and the same. In any case we do know, or think that we know, that Reality does exist and we are aware of it. But we do not know how far beyond us the Awareness extends, and we must either postpone this determination pending a better understanding or accept the statements by other entities who are presumably more advanced than we are that Awareness is universal and extends throughout all Reality and has a particular relationship thereto which will be discussed later.
Our physical senses are very limited and we can observe directly only certain aspects of our Universe, and these only within strictly limited ranges. However, as our understanding increases we are able to devise ways and means for extending our sense both in range and scope, which in turn leads to better understanding. But we must always remember in thus extending our senses to distinguish between the language of observation and its translation into the language of our senses, lest we miss the phenomenon while inspecting its effect. Also, since the information we get through extensions of our senses is essentially "second hand", we must be doubly sure that it is truly what we think it is, that it is in fact "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
There are two ways of "learning", memorizing and understanding. No matter how good memory is it can never do more than regurgitate that which has been assimilated, without form and undigested. A library is an excellent memory but its understanding is nil. Understanding however allows one to KNOW and is not limited to material which has already been assimilated. Further, understanding can extrapolate while memory cannot even interpolate. Therefore, in dealing with the Basic Concept of the Universe which is Nothing-At-All, mere memory is not good enough; understanding must be used, otherwise the whole exercise is meaningless and we cannot KNOW.
In striving to attain the knowledge of Nothing-At-All and the basic concept of Reality within it, words are hopelessly inadequate because by their very nature words are merely symbols in which there is some degree of common understanding. As yet we have no words for that which is basic, and we must attain the understanding of it and then carry this understanding into whatever language we find convenient. But however we may approach the subject, the understanding of it is entirely personal. As one of the people from "elsewhere" once stated, "I cannot teach you; I can only help you to learn!"