There is a background against which all things are contrasted. It is before all, and after all, yet has no beginning or end. It contains every thing, yet is no thing. Every description is incomplete. For centuries this fundamental was unrecognized within systems of counting, yet was always implied. It was the genius of the Arabic empire which first formulated the concept with the notation of zero. Nothing.
But even this notation is inaccurate and has the seeds of all things within it. We start with a completely blank sheet of paper, and attempt to symbolize this eternal background of emptiness by making a mark, a zero, a circle.



But by our action, we introduce one. One mark. And that mark defines two, the inside of the circle and the outside. So we have three, the two areas of definition and the mark which describes them. This is the essence of differentiation, which, when repeated indefinitely, generates the 10,000 things.
Thus the background remains elusive, for any attempt to discuss it, describe it, or even refer to it, is immediately deluged with the multiplicity of division which is the essence of Maya, illusion, or the world of sense experience.