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The Spaciousness Between the Thoughts

The Spaciousness Between the Thoughts

I’m going to lose my mind….

In awareness practice we hear: I don’t know; there’s no such thing as control; mistakes are not possible; thy will be done; not my will, but thy will. These familiar teachings seem to point in one direction, don’t they? Might we sum up that direction as “It’s not up to me”?

But wait. Wouldn’t that mean I have no agency? What about responsibility? Don’t I have a responsibility, an obligation to do the right thing, be a good person? Isn’t that what religion/spirituality is all about?

Reading the teachings of one of my favorite saints, I came across this statement: That Which Is (Life, True Nature, Authenticity, the Universe) is the deity of the mind.

That Which Is is the deity of the mind. What does that mean? I had to think about that! Before too much thought had happened, it began to seem that the real deity of the mind is thinking. Is that possible? More to think about….

As I considered this, I began to wonder if that statement is true, and if true, about the sincerity of the mind’s devotion to its deity. This suspicion quickly led to more suspicion. It’s easy to see thoughts. Easy to see thinking. But what about the mind? What is the mind? Is there any such thing as the mind aside from thoughts and thinking?

Ah, perhaps now we’re closing in on other familiar expressions: the space between the thoughts, thisherenow. That seems to be what’s “in” the space between the thoughts—though as soon as I try to think about that, it isn’t.

It occurs to me that while That Which Is might be the deity of the mind, the mind is spending an awful lot of time worshipping what seems more like ego than Authentic Nature.

Now, looking straight at it, with no thoughts or thinking, there doesn’t seem to be anything there. Just that gap.

I look around. Is there any problem? No. Anything wrong? No. Do I feel alive? Yes? Do I have life force? Yes. Am I happy, peaceful, content? Yes.

I try a little thinking. Yep, a problem is offered up for consideration. Yes, there’s something that needs to be fixed, worried about. Ah, yes, something that needs to be thought about.

What about that life force, feeling alive? Nope, not aware of it while I’m worrying those problems.

Attention back on the gap, the thinking mind is nowhere to be found—as long as I don’t think about it!

I don’t know; there’s no such thing as control; mistakes are not possible; thy will be done; not my will, but thy will; the space between the thoughts; thisherenow—all pointing to “It’s not up to me.”

In the gap between the thoughts, that all makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s downright obvious! What’s “missing” in that gap? Me. There’s no me. There’s only That Which Is and no me to think about it.

Yes, indeed, I’m going to lose my mind. I want to lose my mind.

Gasshō
ch

Cheri Huber has been a student and teacher of Zen for over 30 years. She is the author of 20 books, the newest being What You Practice Is What You Have, the sequel to her widely-read There Is Nothing Wrong With You. Other titles include The Depression Book, The Fear Book, and When You're Falling, Dive. In 1983, Cheri founded the Mountain View Zen Center, and in 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center in Calaveras County. She and the monks at the Monastery conduct workshops and retreats at these centers, other places around the U.S., and internationally. In 1997, Cheri founded Living Compassion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace and service. She also has a weekly, Internet based call-in radio show, Open Air.

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