An empty mind

To see the empty nature of mind is liberating. It’s like a room full of furniture. Originally the room is empty. The furniture is brought in piece by piece. The person living there knows that anything they brought into the room can also be taken out — chairs, beds, tables, and so on. Similarly anything brought into the mind by prior causes and conditions can be taken out — afflictive emotions… all kinds of suffering. Nothing is stuck. This empty nature is the direct route to freedom. Once we know it, it is only a question of doing the work. As Suzuki Roshi put it, “People who know the state of emptiness will always be able to dissolve their problems by constancy.” Constancy here means continuing with our practice of right effort. Once we know the peace of an empty mind, we only need to keep letting go of the sources of suffering. The field of awareness, like vast space, is intrinsically empty. 

Guy Amstrong, in his new book,  Emptiness, A Practical Guide for Meditators

In face of our fears

If we realize that our greatest enemy is fear

and what it does to us,  and how much it launches these automatic protective programs, 

then we realize that there’s a kind of daily summons to stand up in face of our fears

and risk being who we are and risk potential loss of our comfort zones

and the consensual approval that every child needs, 

but which becomes a kind of constrictive burden for the adult

James Hollis  

Not listening to outside voices


Childhood events and interactions can cause wounds which manifest later in the form of an inner  critic, making us feel smaller when faced with stressful situations. It is good to practice resting in our inner innate goodness – the light that comes from within – and not give other persons power over our moods or thoughts.

The object of this learning
is to remove outside authority
from your inner life.
Eliminate the old habit of
listening to others about your
own comfort and convenience

Moshe Feldenkrais

Practices that stretch us


There is nothing I dislike

Linji, died 866, founder of the Rinzai school of Zen

In Zen,  koans or phrases such as this are taken on and allowed sink into consciousness to challenge and stretch us and provoke responses other than our habitual ones. Two commentaries by different authors might be useful:

What does that mean, to dislike? Dislike could mean that you are feeling a strain between how things really are and your story about how things are.

John Tarrant, Bring me the Rhinoceros (and other koans to bring you joy).

‘There is nothing I dislike’ rearranges us profoundly, when we offer ourselves to its energy, its scrutiny, its disturbance in us. This practice is not about tidying up the world and making it clean and bright; it’s about recognizing the world as it is and finding right there the radical freedom of being. The alternative is a kind of carefully scaled-down life. One that is still extravagantly rich in detail and variety and shot through with beauty despite all our efforts, since we live on the blue-green planet, but a scaled-down view of what it was we really wanted while we were here, so very briefly.

Susan Murphy, Upside-Down Zen