No Trace

When I lived at the Zen center in Salt Lake City, I would often hear the phrase “leave no trace”.

It can be understood in several different ways.

One is the obvious physical sense. When we use something – be it a building or a cup – then clean it up and leave it as it was. This makes pragmatic physical sense, and also eases interactions among people.

Another is leaving no trace in ones interactions with others. When I am clear, there is less chance that the other is triggered. (Not that I am responsible for that anyway, it is that person’s process, but it may be something to keep in mind. It is a reflection of where I am at.)

And another is the mind.

Every experience leaves traces on the level of the small self. It creates an imprint, and may trigger a reaction which then digs a deeper groove for itself.

And no experience leaves any trace on the level of the nature of mind.

When I awaken to myself as space & awareness – as the function of experiencing, as the formless unborn – then I see that there are no traces here. Experiences appear and change, and the space in which they unfold is unchanged. An airplane does not harm the sky when it flies through it, not even if it happens to explode. Nor does a bird or clouds leave any traces in the sky. To use another image: when a reflection appears and disappears in a mirror, there is no trace of the reflection.

And the same is the case with ourselves as space & awareness. There are no traces.

This is how we can come to see that whatever happens is OK. Since the small self is not permanent, and the Absolute cannot be damaged, there is no permanent damage. And this gives us a lighter touch in relationship with our experiences and life.

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