It is a common argument strategy to say that inclusivity and synthetic thinking isn’t very helpful. Often thinkers favor analysis, even if it is less correct, because it is more useful. To counter, it is good to consider how scientists postulate space. Space includes a notion of distance similar (although slightly different) to Euclidean Geometry (and very dissimilar from many other mathematical definitions of distance). If space really were nothing at all, you wouldn’t be able to traverse space. If space didn’t include this idea of distance, the universe wouldn’t hang together. Trying to traverse space without a law of distance, and many other laws sometimes called “global constants” by scientists, such as the speed of light (which supersedes the law of distance) then traversing it would involve traversing nonsense, insanity, oblivion, Nirvana or some other of the hard to define or undefinables.

The notion of space for the physicist is more similar to the notion of emptiness than to nothing at all, because emptiness recognizes or includes a container. The container is the global constants, and is not nothing. This is how Zen Buddhism avoids Nihilism.

You may try to say that noticing this basic inclusivity of the universe is not helpful, but it is of utmost importance for there to be an emptiness to inhabit and for the universe to tie itself together. Understanding how the stars and we and plants and rocks and love and thoughts are tied together is a very good thing, and rivals the analysis that separates us from food, or fuel for a fire. I would even argue that understanding the fabric of the universe, our container, is better than separating yourself from a fire. Try at your own risk though.

I will end with a summary of a story from the Dhamma I tell my daughters often.

The story of the Monk who looked for Space, adapted from the Dhamma for children

Once upon a time there was a monk who wanted to know where Space was

So he meditated and meditated and meditated, until his mind reached the angels.

He asked the angles, “Oh Angels, where is Space?”

The angels replied “We don’t know, but if you meditate longer, you will reach even higher angels, they might know.”

So the monk meditated and meditated and meditated, and his beard grew longer and longer and grey as he sat still, until he saw the higher angels.

The monk asked the higher angels “Oh high Angels, where is space?”

And the High Angels replied, “We don’t know, but if you meditate longer you will reach the Highest Angels, maybe they will know”

So the monk meditated and meditated, and his beard grew down to his feet and grew white as he mediated, until he saw the Highest Angels.

The monk asked the Highest Angels, “Oh Highest Angels, where is Space?”

And the Highest Angels replied, “We don’t know, but if you meditate even longer you will reach Brahma, the Highest of the Highest, creator of all the worlds. He will know.”

So, again, the monk meditated and meditated, and his hair began to fall out and his skin sagged from his bones and grew spots as he sat meditating, until he reached Brahma.

The monk asked Brahma, “Oh Brahma, Highest of the Highest, Creator of all the worlds, where is space?”

And Brahma replied “I am Brahma! Highest of the Highest, Creator of all the worlds!”

And for some this would be enough, but this monk persisted.

The monk said “Yes, and… where is space?”

Brahma realized the monk would not go away, so he took him to the side away from his Choir of Angels and said,

“Look, don’t tell anyone, but I don’t know where Space is. You are asking a dangerous question. If you must know, go ask the Buddha, but go at your own risk, for you go beyond my domain.” Said the Brahma, Highest of the High, Creator of all the Worlds.

And so, the monk, stood up from his meditation and walked, careful not to fall as he was very old now. He walked very slowly and it was very hard, but luckily for him, The Buddha was living then, and was residing in a town nearby.

He reached the Living Buddha, sat to one side respectfully, and asked his question.

“Oh Buddha, The Well-Gone, where is Space?”

And the Buddha gave his answer simply

“It is good you came to me, for no-one can answer this question except one who has finished the Noble Eightfold Path. And it is because Space can only be found in the mind of the Saint, one you has followed the Way, gone to the end of the world with his mind. For he has found Space, and it is in his mind.”

Then the Buddha, saying nothing at all, imparted this knowledge to the monk, who attained Enlightenment at that very moment. The monk lived happily from then on, knowing the supreme bliss, until his death and beyond.