Dogzen Email Newsletter
Reprints of the Dogzen Email Newsletters
Number 9 - February, 2005
In previous newsletters, I discussed "attributes" of pure awareness. Things like luminous, clear, present, and space-like. The space-like nature of awareness is pretty easy to get. You just expand your "here" a little.
"Here", as you know, is pretty ambiguous. There can be little "heres" and bigger "heres".
Like, for example, when you are just "here" in the room. A "here" is about the size of a room. If you were in a phone booth, your "here" would be smaller than a room. If you were in a park, your "here" might be the whole park, quite a bit bigger than a little room.
Another example: if you were talking to an intergalactic alien who just came to your galaxy, your "here" might be the whole Milky Way galaxy. If you said, "I'm here!" you'd mean, "in this galaxy."
So "here" can contract and expand. To get the space-like nature of awareness more available to you as a direct experience, try doing a "here expander" meditation.
The Here Expander
I'm here in this room.
I'm here in this house. (you might have to tweak this a little if you are outside)
I'm here in this country.
I'm here on this planet.
I'm here in this galaxy.
I'm here in this universe.
As your "here" gets bigger (or smaller), you become more aware of the space aspect of awareness because your attention is right on space.
When you do the meditation, be careful not to focus on boundary objects to set the size. Boundary objects are things like walls or mountains or things like that - things that concretely mark the edges of the "here". Let go of them a bit and just use your knowingness of the size of each space that is called out in the meditation.
It's best to have a kind-of soft focus with your eyes. Don't tightly focus on anything. Most of your awareness should be on the space, not objects in that space.
Also, don't just look at a mental picture that represents the size of the space. For example, don't just get a mental picture of a room (like a memory of a room or an imaginary room). Let your awareness fill the space itself. There is a subtle sensation of awareness filling the space and that is an important part of this meditation.
You don't have to be able to see the space with your eyes or know what things are in the space for this practice to work. That is not the point. You just need to get a knowingness of the space aspect of your awareness.
Try the "Here Expander" and see if you can get it, and also, more importantly, see if you like it. You may need to work on it a little to get results. Do the meditation a few times to build up an experience.
Once you have clearly experienced the space-like aspect of awareness, I recommend going outside and gazing at the wide-open sky. This is what the Bon Dzogchen practitioners do in Tibet. Have your awareness fill the sky. Within that experience, there is a great opportunity to access states of pure awareness and direct experience.
Where did this weird idea (Here Expander) come from? Actually, it was based (sort of) on a joke idea a friend told me a long time ago (about 30 years ago). He playfully made up a little story about getting a "space expander." When you felt crowded, you could just turn on your space expander and have a little extra room. It was something like that, anyway. When I started writing this, I was just going to contort the joke into a Dogzen pseudo-spiritual practice, just for fun, but then I found that the Here Expander actually did work quite well in exposing the space-like nature of awareness. Go figure!
(I would have told you I was joking at the end.)
Go happily about with an expanded mind,
PS: I just got a email spam advertisement (for a hangover cure) with the following line:
"...wake sentient splendid from head to belly and all over else."
Sounds good to me....