With an apathetic look in tired eyes
he turned away from the edge,
hundreds of feet above the turbulent
waters, and walked toward the forest,

across the empty road absent
of any traffic since the morning,
into the cultivated fields, curiously empty,
and sat next to the stone marker and finally wept.

White snow absent of
mind dusts,

absent of tree shadows
and raven wings.

White snow becomes the
moon filled river.

White snow becomes
the expanding horizon.

White snow becomes
what we bring, what we perceive.

An empty canvas, the empty field
becomes a blank page and the contents

of our full minds, the charged emotions
we carry become the objects strewn across the field.

The white snow is deceptive
and in the beauty we can become

distracted and lose sight
of our being our place in everything.

Like mind dusts they accumulate if
not cultivated and swept away.

Our being, our body, our minds
require maintenance and care.

Shining brilliantly through
grey fog hugging the soaked ground

the light I cannot see is there
in my mind, there in my eyes.

Fading snow cover reveals the field
I have been searching for

the field anchored by one lantern
surrounded by ten-thousand trees.

Pick up the lantern and in the light
turn yourself around, inside out.

The true brilliance of the light
shows who you are, who you can be.


How did I get here? An important question I throw into the air while reading, writing, and drinking coffee on a cold morning with early sunlight across the fields.

In this current state of being, I awoke a few years ago after sleep walking through most of my life and leaving my path up to others, letting go of control.

It is simple and easy to look outside of yourself for direction and answers, and others are more then willing to lead and take you where they want you to go. I let this happen and my life was just a passing shadow, a fading glimpse of what could be and what I already was beneath the surface. Where was I really and truly? Where was he hiding, how could I find him, and the most important and challenging question: how to become aware that I was NOT being my true self?

The day to day struggles, emotions, and experience build upon others, all figuring into the outward person you are, the one we walk around with. What does this build within? How and what do these experiences build on the inside?

As they build on top of others, the layers push further away from a central point, diluting and diminishing the light, the lantern that is within. I had not seen my light, my lantern since before I was born, wandering a different place. Somehow I knew it was there, I had a vague and distant pain that this not my first time here. That there was more, but I was confused and unsure of what I was feeling and what I would see in dreams. I felt lost in one regard, and in another I was angry that I was unable to unlock the secrets deep within.

Like flotsam carried downstream beneath bridges, past cities, and into valleys before washing out to sea.

Whether intentional or not, we attract others that align or sense the energy that we give off, those vibrations that consume our thoughts and essence. I was searching each minute of each day, and that was what my life had become at that point. In this spiritual emptiness, I had become vulnerable, listening and latching onto anyone that said the right words, that seemed to be genuine, interested, and in some ways an equal, even if I did not believe or feel that way.

Further lost in the sea, the dark depths swallowed everything I saw.  Any glimpse of light vanished, any indication of land or solid ground, gone.

Until I met you.

I felt reborn and the darkness began to clear as you chipped away at the layers and stone scattered across my field. Your stories of things beyond here, of experiences from previous lives meant I was not alone, that what I felt was real.

Finally, someone to walk the golden shoreline, hand in hand as we watch the sunset and the calm sea.

From your guidance I realized the reality I desired, the control I had, and the answers within. I saw this current life as a field, and my experiences manifested as objects, tokens, and cairns. How we navigate that field, what we keep, and what we discard, determine the reality and the life we live.

I now see with more clarity the guides that I come into contact with, and know which are real and which are not.  I now see the stone cairns I have left for myself from previous and future lives.  I now walk this field with an ever-growing awareness of myself and the path I will take.

Golden Sunrise
Golden Sunrise

The one single book that has helped me to focus, let go, and where to find the answers is “Cultivating the Empty Field” by Zen Master Hongzhi. This was recommended years ago by Hanakia Zedek, and along with his friendship, has truly been life changing.

Cultivating the Empty Fields
Cultivating the Empty Fields
Zen Master Hongzhi Zhengjue
Zen Master Hongzhi Zhengjue

I walked across that empty field
after the weeds took over
and boulders fell from the darkening
sky and trees took root.

I walked across what used
to be the empty field
a gameboard for my mind
a history of what has

taken place, what I allowed
to happen and I threw
gasoline everywhere and
took refuge within while the sky burned.

Sky on Fire
Sky on Fire

I am reading the “Cultivating the Empty Field” for the second time, and also Dogen’s “Moon in a Dewdrop”.

From this perspective I have been working to understand Dualism and Nondualism. In a nutshell, here are my thoughts, and I want to see if I am even close to understanding the basic concepts.

In Nondualism:

1. The tree and myself are distinct, but fundamentally the same, in that we are made from the same things, have a consciousness, are an extension of the source (that radiant and brilliant light).

2. As long as I believe the “inner” and “outer” are separate entities, that there is a border around
myself/consciousness, I will continue to travel this plane of existence. Only through a non-dualism thought process, where there is no border between the physical and consciousness, can you truly be free, be free of shackles of reality.

This puts a great spin on the saying “it’s only in your head”. How true that is! All of this, is only in our heads, as we allow the “outer” to control the “inner”. So much stuff litters this path, this overgrown field is dying, it is cluttered, and the clutter is blocking any light from providing the nutrients that it needs.

In Dualism:

1. On a another level, I have not philosophically thought of “mind” and “brain” as separate entities, thus thinking of them as one. In general, it seems that “mind” is the metaphysical, and “brain” is the physical, vehicle, or transport layer. Though, in some thoughts, the brain is made of building blocks of energy, thus not really a physical entity.

2. This can also be thought of as the state of consciousness and the building blocks, but can these both be reduced to quantum particles of energy, thus becoming a non-dualist approach?

I guess when we argue that reality is what we make it, versus living someone else’s definition, non-dualism is the only approach that makes sense to me, and I am unsure where Dualism fits in philosophically, and in my growth/path I am creating.

In non-dualism, and what Dogen and Hongzhi preach:

I see and do not see
I hear and do not here

– meaning there is no distinction, it just is, it comes and it goes, you let it go, do not dwell, it happens when it happens and then it is gone.
– also means that things we carry can be discarded – the experience has been actualized, assimilated into our being, and what is left: the negativity, the feelings, the emotions, can be discarded as they are no longer useful.
– if there is no distinction between seeing and not seeing, it means the being is self-aware and aware of the surroundings, and there is no conscious effort needed to know this. What needs to be seen will be seen, what needs to be heard will be heard.