Why Vedanta Can Say Something Cannot Come From Nothing

Hi Ted,


I have a question. I have heard you and James say over the years that “something can’t come from nothing” and that is how we know that consciousness/awareness is the substrate of all, and not nothing, or emptiness. However you also write that Maya makes the impossible possible, and so who are we to say that something cannot come from nothing? Is not declaring as true that something cannot come from nothing a way to limit Isvara 1, or Brahman? It may seem counterintuitive that something comes from nothing, but Vedanta is filled with paradox and weirdness due to the deluding power of Maya….


Thank you for your time and for the effort you have made in preserving and carrying forward the beautiful scripture that is Vedanta. It has changed my life.





Hi, Bettina.


Concerning the possibility of something coming from nothing, consider the following:


  1. Maya is an aspect of Brahman, specifically the “material” aspect of Brahman (though in its primordial state it is subtle material rather than gross) and as such is the factor that makes Brahman (i.e., limitless conscious existence) appear to be innumerable jivas (i.e., apparent individual beings) living within the context of the jagat (i.e., the limited/dualistic insentient apparent reality, or the myriad objective phenomena that comprise the manifest universe). Hence, Maya is something, in this case a “force,” as it were.
  2. Brahman is limitless conscious existence. And though limitless conscious existence has no boundaries, characteristics, attributes, or qualities by which it can be defined as an object, it definitely is something. That is, “it” exists in that it is existence itself.


Thus, if Brahman were not something, Maya would not exist.


Moreover, even if we were to posit that Maya could exist without Brahman, there would be nothing with which Maya could create the appearance of anything.


Other than, of course, itself.


Which would leave us in the same quandary as before, for such a circumstance would implicitly establish Maya as Brahman (which, of course, at the most essential level it already is), and we would be left wondering from where Maya has come.


This thought process basically becomes a matter of the cat chasing its own tail.


It is only logical that something can’t come from nothing.


And while logic does not establish the truth, for logic itself is an object arising within the truth (i.e., the essential reality of limitless conscious existence), the principle of logical analysis is one of the fundamental psychological dharmas that govern the operation of the apparent reality, which is why we can’t simply make the claim that anything we think or believe or suppose is true without adequately supporting the idea with a legitimate thought process based on the principle of cause and effect. All of which is to say that though logic does not establish the truth, an analysis of experience that leads to a conclusion indicating the nature of truth will not defy the principles of logic.


All the best,