Ex Sistere

The etymology of the word “Existence” is described as follows (from Wikipedia):


Etymology

The word “existence” comes from the Latin word exsistere meaning “to appear”, “to arise”, “to become”, or “to be”, but literally, it means “to stand out” (ex- being the Latin prefix for “out” added to the Latin verb stare, meaning “to stand”).[6]


 

Imagine our Most Recent Common Ancestor – some ape-like humanoid quietly munching shoots in the lower branches of some African tree. Lazily, it looks out over the plains to watch the swaying grass. It blows in the wind. Nothing remarkable, no reason to worry. There’s ‘nothing’ there.

Suddenly, a tuft of tall grass moves in the opposite way than the rest. Something’s there! Whatever it is, our MRCA sounds the alarm. Whoops go up into the hot air, and the tribe moves into higher branches, scooping up the kids in the process.

And we were right. There was something there. A big cat – a sabre-toothed tiger or something.

 

We are conditioned to notice what stands-out from the background. What we can’t see isn’t there. And that’s wrong… ish. While it’s true that to us Existence is “what is different”, we mustn’t ignore everything else. The Taoists knew that.

The Chinese word “Wu” to the Taoists is sort-of ‘Nothing’, but it’s also ‘Everything’. It is that from which yin-yang is born. It is the empty ‘circle’ around the yin-yang symbol. It is Zero.

I posit that “Wu” is the before-Big-Bang, if I can call it that. So when we ask “Why is there something from nothing?” our notion of “nothing” is actually “Everything”… And while it doesn’t make answering it any easier, it does break us out of our animal-thinking and maybe sets us on a different path.