Nothing to Hold

I am listening to a news report about a woman who lost everything in the Paradise, California, fire. She and her two children survive but her home and possessions are reduced to ash. Her comment about the experience, after the initial shock, is that she has a sense of freedom and can now start over anywhere. Without knowing her back story, her financial situation, and other variables, I still find this a refreshing reaction.

Most of the thousands who are impacted by the fire have stronger emotions, grief, and a profound sense of loss. They seem lost in a sea of sadness. Of course, every story is different. But I see the woman who feels freedom as a wonderful emissary of the experience of infinite possibilities. From the perspective of our original nature, all possibilities exist all the time. The fact that we choose one path is arbitrary and usually follows the whim of our conditioned self.

If we recognize the open possibility, we also know there is nothing to hold. Whatever we choose is inherently impermanent. Nothing lasts forever. From building a home to constructing a philosophy—nothing is substantial and immune to change and decay. Our ideas about life are different now than they were ten or twenty years ago. We are always rebuilding. We can always start over anywhere.

Buddha taught from the perspective of “nothing to hold.” His awakening is a gesture of our own natural awareness about impermanence. In meditation practice, we notice the tendency to cling to every arising thought. We notice. Then, without indulging the thought nor pushing it away, we abide in the space between and relax the mind. The more we practice, the more we remember this is very natural. We often forget to remember.

My prayer is that all beings may recall self-refreshing awareness. May they all recognize infinite possibilities and mingle that awareness with loving kindness. May they have happiness and the cause of happiness. May they be free from suffering and the cause of suffering. And may we all, according to our capability, help those who are suffering and unhappy.

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