Nowhere to lay his head

Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Luke 9:58

Again, this can be understood in several ways.

It can be taken literally. Jesus was a wanderer with no home to call his own. He gave up his family, career, house and everything else to give his life to God and teaching.

Also, as human beings none of us have a place to lay our head. All is in flux. There is no solid ground anywhere. Everything is a guest – this body, the house we live in, this planet, this universe.

Finally, when we recognize the emptiness of everything, there is clearly nowhere to lay ones head. All is awareness itself. All is ephemeral. Insubstantial. Similar to a holograph where there is form but no substance. There is quite literally nowhere to lay ones head, and there is no head to lay anywhere.

The experience of this may be of the bottom falling out of everything. The sense of “ground” that comes from taking stories are real and substantial, and what they refer to as real and substantial, falls away. What is left is all as awareness itself. No-thing appearing as something, yet without ever being anything but no-thing. A brilliant emptiness everything arises as. The ground falls away, revealing all as Ground. The Ground of awareness, of no-thing appearing as something.

It may sound strange and far removed from how most people experience existence. But it is really there in all of our experience all the time. It is just temporarily covered up by taking stories as substantial and real.



Son of man often refers to humans in general, but here it seems to refer to Jesus and his followers. Jesus has nowhere to lay his head.

As a wanderer and voluntary homeless, Jesus had nowhere to lay his head. This is the literal interpretation.

It can also be taken as a metaphor for how we all feel now and then.

Initial drafts… (didn’t quite get a handle on how to talk about this one)

  • no place to lay ones head
    • literal sense, Jesus homeless in the world (a wanderer)
    • homeless when take ourselves as a separate I (always sense of something missing, not being quite at home, not being able to fully rest anywhere)
    • homeless b/c all in flux w/in form (nothing fixed, nowhere to rest w/in form)
    • no identification with stories, no place to rest within stories
    • immediate experience, emptiness and all as emptiness, no “ground” anywhere
      • go from a sense of “ground” w/in form, a fixed viewpoint, fixed and solid identity, somewhere to stand
      • to immediate experience of all as emptiness, no privileged viewpoint, no fixed or solid identity, no “ground”, nowhere to stand, only the “groundless Ground” of emptiness, the no-thing/awareness appearing as form

There are a few ways to interpret that quote.

Jesus and his followers were wanderers and homeless in a literal sense.

Metaphorically, all of us have a sense of being homeless now and then. It comes with the territory of taking ourselves as an I with an Other. First, there is a sense of leaving what we are (that which all content of experience happens within and as), which brings a sense of homelessness. And this “I” that is created can also be homeless in the world in different ways.

And we are also homeless in the sense that everything – the wider world and our human self – is in flux.

Initial outline…

  • NT quote
    • wandering in a conventional sense (not so interesting, apart from finding a sense of being homeless + all is in flux)
    • not at home on earth (accurate since what we are is not within form – although form is within it. Can also be a little misleading b/c kingdom of god is within you + spread out on the earth.)
    • a third, more interesting, interpretation, also one that can be found in immediate experience here now
  • emptiness in foreground or background
    • if more in background, then (sometimes) shifts into foreground during sitting practice
  • wider world/human self
    • wider world as emptiness, then nowhere to stand
    • human self as emptiness, then no-one to stand anywhere
  • not identified with content of awareness, with stories

There is a particularly beautiful way of looking at that statement… Jesus is awake to what he is, and one that came up when I did one of my (currently rare) sitting meditations. […]

It can also be taken as a metaphor for how we all feel now and then. First, there is an experience of leaving what we are (that which experience happens within and as) through identifying exclusively as something within form. Then the experience of being a separate I, either at home or not in the world, and always a little uneasy about whatever sense of home there may be.

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