Commentary by Gendo
Fullness of mind is empty of self. Isn’t that right? When attention is focused fully on something, there is no experience of self. When some sudden bright thing or stunning sound or strong sensation comes, there is no time to think what it is or who I am. Looking back, you say, “It took my breath away.” What happens without breath? You die.
If that is an unsettling thought, consider that from the very beginning of life you are empty of self. A baby responds to everything with utter unselfconsciousness. With the constant teaching of parents, babies learn to name themselves and all things. But first comes the fullness of experience, empty of self. Adults, who have learned so much, are nostalgic for that innocence. Where has it gone?
If you start looking for fullness of mind, you will not find it. Why? Because who is searching? Your self, of course!. It is the job of the self to divide the world into this and that, into like and dislike, light and dark, tall and short, all in relation to its own preservation. But fullness of mind holds everything. Originally, the mind holds everything.
The self cannot find what is empty of self because that emptiness was never gone, only disguised as discriminating awareness! Every first impression is empty of self, then quickly gives way to thought and name. “Look at the beautiful sunrise!” But even as the words are spoken we have left a moment in which there is no breath, no self. I have made on object of an experience that in the first instance was held in fullness of mind; full, not only of sunrise , but also of night and stars; full of day the bright sunshine and stormy clouds grey and white; all in distinction to the riot of color before me; for which words are poor substitute.
In every moment you die and are reborn. That is the conclusion of Zen.