Grey infused frozen water consumes the last light before the fields darken.

Distant planets follow me from dawn until dusk and a new world emerges where I have become one with beings and energy I do not understand yet make sense at levels I did not know existed.

I left my field years before I arrived here, in search of a new beginning, a chance to erase the past, the stories I have written.

Days traversing empty fields become lost in the mountain shadow where the sky became the ground as we became blind from snow and ice.

With no vision or guidance I was forced to remember ancient words from mountain tops.

It was difficult to separate the truth from lies, the cloaked wolves from the bodhisattva sent from beyond the shadows.

I stumbled upon a rock and fell into a creek feed from glaciers. I feel deep to the bottom of the creek and then I stopped.

The cold become the darkness of my being. The shadows thickened and became a vision of nothing, an island of another existence.

In that moment of eternity I stood on the shoreline of swirling black light and stared at the island. On that island a life played out like a movie and after some time, I realized it was my life, it was my movie.

I watched the choices and decisions I made, the people I loved, and the people I hurt. I watched the distance I kept and the selfishness I exuded. At times, I thought those on the island, in that temporal dream state, looked over at me across the distance as I watched them, as if they know I was there apart from the person they were interacting with.

When darkness becomes all that we know, a choice is presented to grow beyond the person whose own words and actions put them there.

I have written a bit about the concept of an empty field and what this means spiritually, mentally, and physically to myself as a wandering soul, a student of this life struggling to relate and come to terms with previous lives.  The empty field is the essence of the mind and energy transferred to a physical state, represented by a field, landscape, or a similar feature of nature.  This field is like a chessboard, and there are pieces representing parts of the person such as memories, roadblocks, behaviors, and habits that prevent a more peaceful and happier existence.  We do not have to struggle and suffer. We can choose and recast ourself and re-enter the world.

Romanticism of the Empty Field


From two perspectives –
the field gives, and
the field takes.

I see mountains and other
landscapes miles away, yet
here they have no influence.

Yet I cannot help wonder
what was here before me?
Before emptiness?
Does this field hold the
mountains higher, or offer
clear water to the gods?

On this particular day
cloudless and bright
there was no wind,
there was no sound.

I stopped on a single boulder
with eyes closed and filled the
emptiness with childhood memories –
moments we bring into the present
and view with a diffused and
soft light – the romanticism
of our past.

What happens to the real
memories, the emotions – where
are these upon the empty field?

Have I already incorporated
what I needed, taken the experience
and lessons, and discarded what
does not work, what only
weighs me down?


When I stand before the
entrance to the valley
and the immense gates
ask questions of me

how do I answer truthfully
when I left part of me
scattered and broken
fractured and fragmented
across millions of miles
of empty field?

Does the gate see the
same light or hear
the same vibrations as I?


I step down from the boulder
and vow to recast the person
I am into the person I should be
and begin to reassemble the being
from the pieces.

On the cusp
between two worlds

the fine edge we walk
through each day.

One world filled with the
memories we choose to keep.

The other filled with what
we have left behind.

In the current understanding
time is a persistent reference

a way to communicate and exist
within this space.

But memories operate independently
wavering through all space

and the fabric that holds the
grid keeping us from flying off to nowhere.

They exist as energy and continue a journey
we started and they pass back and forth

ignoring conventional laws and mathematics
seeking out and obtaining experiences

from systems and lands we will never see
with our eyes but will return to our minds.


Washed with silent words
spoken by creatures of

the day and night
I let go and slept

in their midst while
the sky turned and

the sun left this
space beyond the trees.


In the depths of dreams
I saw the clouds

move slowly across
the empty fields

and at the beginning
or the end

I stood and talked
with a raven holding

fragments of the person
I was before coming here.

At the end of this journey
I stood before the bursting

stars and bathed in the
energy and light.

I cupped matter in my hands
and I drank the elements.

Time did not exist and
I knew nothing of time.

There was no separation.
There was no boundary.

I became one with myself.
I returned home.


Tears fall upon the lotus
growing near the red water.

A robed figure walks the
dirt path from the bay

carrying a full bucket
not one drop is spilled

as they descend a hill
leading to the monastery.


Trees give up their leaves
to the earth, the earth

gives the leaves to animals,
what is left goes to the

insects and back to the earth.


In the evening the doors close
while they prepare an offering

for the forest and a meal for
themselves and guests.


Travellers pass the simple iron gates daily
while a few will enter.

The road leads through a pine forest,
an empty field, before passing the gardens.


Many people are hunched over
or carrying vegetables to wagons.

The sun is hot and the sky is clear
the wind is calm and the tress are tall.

I stop and watch a woman leading a child
toward a field of carrots or potatoes.

A man went and joined them and together
they pulled food from the earth.


I continued past the gardens until
I reached the front of a large

building surrounded by white magnolias
and purple flowers I did not recognize.

The doors opened with no hesitations and
no questions asked of my bare feet,

scars across my back and holes in my hands.

I sat down to write what’s consuming
my mind day in and day out.

I thought on the state of the world
the wars, the drought, the famine –

the social and environmental
issues that continue to plague all beings.

I thought about what can we do
I thought about what can I do.

What is the root cause?

I know someone who talks
and preaches about a shift,

the coming end of what we think
we know and what we should know.

Existing or not existing
in that darkness, in that space

of nothing from which words
of proceeding masters are

twisted and malformed into a
new philosophy for a new age.

That age I move away from into
my own space, an inclusive space.

For how can we bring about change
by condemning another’s thoughts

another’s beliefs – peace comes
from understanding and respect

not guilt, shame, or hatred.

A cherographed music, dance, and light number that truly is an extension, a bridge from here to where we came from. A beautiful peace that amazed me with how the dancers interacted with the light and the story being told.

More information at

Just read three wonderful articles in the latest issue of Shambhala Sun that I wanted to share.

  1. Going Full Superman, by Koun Franz
    1. A look at superheroes and the most important trait they can teach us: selflessness.
  2. The Dharma of Distraction, by Judy Lief
    1. Why do we allow ourselves to be distracted?  Are we afraid or fearful of finding who we truly are, our true being hidden within?
  3. George Saunders on Kindness, interview by Melvin McLeod
    1. We can breakdown any wall and bridge the gap between others through one small act of kindness.


This is a follow-up to my previous post about the book “Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi”. This book is edited and translated by Taigen Dan Leighton and Yi Wu.

I would consider this a classic Zen text and one every practitioner, from beginnings to masters should have. Included are Hongzhi’s practice instructions for sitting meditation, also called silent illumination or zazen (just sitting). Being in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition, the focus is not to concentrate on an object, but on silence and clearing thoughts. It is key to acknowledge a thought and let it go, giving the thoughts and objects a moment, before they move to the past, clearing a way to move forward.

The concept of the empty field is equivalent to the mind, and the thoughts that get in our way to live the life we desire are objects and overgrowth on that field. We must clear and cultivate the field.

Hongzhi’s language is clear and powerful and always with the goal of finding peace and your reality, not what others would like you to have. We each have a field and in that field is a bright luminous light, and that field is within. Our reality is within, and so are the answers we seek.

I continue to read and re-read this book and each time it makes more sense. I am able to incorporate more of the practice, tailor it to what works for me, and move forward with a more empty field, and further into a true reality. This book is a guide for finding that path.