it just is

The one who bows and the one who is bowed to
are by nature boundless.
That is why the communication between them
is inexpressibly perfect. 

This gatha is chanted at the beginning of the ritual of touching the earth (prostrations).  Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Teachings on Love that when we practice touching the earth, we

surrender our pride, notions, fears, resentments, and even our hopes,
and enter the world of ‘things as they are.’ 

On Monday, I described a breathing meditation that began with opening to the entirety of our experience; an expansive bowl in which everything sits, non-judgmentally, non-preferentially.  The second stage of the breathing meditation is to bring our attention to the breath at the nostrils.  Rest there, allowing the bowl of awareness to simply sit on the rise and fall of the breath.  In this stage, we rest.  Awareness rests.  Thoughts, desires, wilfulness, control all rest.  There is nothing made, nothing contrived, nothing given, nothing taken away from the experience in this moment.  This is equanimity.

The practice of equanimity is a practice of love.  It is another chamber in the heart that beats for all beings.  Like lovingkindness and resonant joy, it is a practice of surrender.  We are asked to hand over all our ideas and opinions about this moment, this person.  The stories of attachment and betrayal, the tales of joy and woe – check them in at the cloakroom and don’t ask for a ticket to reclaim them.

Only then can we enter the boundless nature of relationship.


The heart is made up of four chambers and the kanji for “heart” is a schematic for it.  What I love about the script is the openness, the way it rolls off the brush to sit on the paper, an upright bowl ready to hold anything.  In our mindfulness courses, I describe a 3-stage breathing meditation that begins with allowing everything in the sense perceptions to fall into awareness, into a bowl.  Let it all drop into the well of awareness without judgment of or preferences for it.  A spacious containing of all that is present in that in- and out-breath.

When we let the entirety of our experience sit in the bowl of awareness, we begin to develop an understanding of what these perceptions, experiences are.  Usually though, we tend to push it away at first twinge or consume it ravenously at first delight with barely a sense of what it was.  Letting all the elements of our experience show themselves, their true nature, is an invitation to intimacy.

This is love.

Simple, bare awareness that is already open, accepting, and encompassing.

Love is the first of the Four Divine Abodes or the Four Immeasurable Minds.  It is known as maitri or metta.  It is not sentimental or cloying.  It is an honest, courageous willingness to be open (vulnerable) to the whole tidal cycle of our life – moment by moment.

Favourite books on metta:

Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg

Eight Mindfulness Steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana

Happiness by Mathieu Ricard