The Fundamental Space

“You can’t get stuck in space.”
~ Chögyam Trungpa

Whatever appears does so within the space of fundamental reality – “what is”.

In our natural state of knowing awareness, “what is” and “what we are”, are not two.

Likewise, in its primordial state, mind is empty of any contraction or contrivance – sky-like, limitless, and luminous — and yet with no inherent substance, solidity, or self-identity.

When the mind moves, various views are spawned, in the form of fantasies of interpretation on the perception of “what is”.

When such fantasies are superimposed on “what is”, mind chronically tends to imagine and then confirm an independent and enduring person – a separate subject in opposition to the objects projected by mind.

This apparent separate self-identity manifests in time as a limited and limiting identity-story which then must be preserved, enhanced, satisfied, and defended.

In this way, complications proliferate and multiply, further obscuring the simple innocence of “what is”.

Those who pay attention to the useful hints from the wise may be subsequently inspired to investigate this apparent self and its compounded narrative of “me and mine” in order to determine if it is real, or merely a phantom creation, a mental fabrication.

While investigating the mind, attention can be turned around to that which is investigating.

When nothing is seen, one can relax right there.

In that conscious process, all views are spontaneously self-liberated without resistance or conceptual meddling, allowing “what is” to be appreciated as the fundamental reality, innocent and transparent, empty and full.

Regardless of whatever has seemingly appeared and vanished within the space of fundamental reality, we have never actually departed from the innate sublimity of the natural state, the clear light of knowing awareness.

By letting the mind rest in and as the basic space of the natural state, “what is” and “what we are” are revealed to be none other than the radiant display of the Great Perfection Itself.

All praise and homage to That!

Light of Knowing Awareness 2

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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24 Responses to The Fundamental Space

  1. inaendelea says:

    Hello Bob, nice post. Lately I’m seeing a lot of writings about the oneness, connectedness, etc, seems to me is like an explosion, like a “big-bang” of our awareness. Great!. However, I have a different experience about our ultimate individuality. Is true that when we expand our conscience beyond the limits imposed by our little mind the field of conscience becomes so big that we experience oneness, and seems we lost ourselves in it; lot of authors are saying our true identity is the whole. Some weeks ago while I was meditating, using the technique of “I’m not this, not that …” searching what/who I am, at last I experienced a void field, so I was nothing at all, but in the very center of the field I noticed myself as a non dimensional point, the who I am. It was a vivid, strong experience, not a dream or an imagination. So, I think we are somebody, beyond the mind, and even beyond the conscience. We are not conscience, we are a focus of … life? And we have conscience. And we are learning to use it beyond our limited mind.
    Take care.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Iaendelea! And to your point on individuality, the sage Ramana Maharshi noted the paradox when he mentioned that the “I” casts off the illusion of ‘I’ and yet remains as ‘I’.
      In my essay on Self-Realization, I noted: “a sense of individuality will continue to persist, even beyond physical incarnation, but not in the sense of solid entification, but more like a point of transparent wakeful awareness. Ultimately, however, even that sense will be superseded by the recognition of one’s prior or absolute nature as an ineffable expression of Source Itself, indivisible from the totality of the universal manifestation.
      Nisargadatta Maharaj puts it this way:
      “Freedom from self-identification with a set of memories and habits, the state of wonder at the infinite reaches of the being, its inexhaustible creativity and total transcendence, the absolute fearlessness born from the realization of the illusoriness and transiency of every mode of consciousness — flow from a deep and inexhaustible source. To know the source as source and appearance as appearance, and oneself as the source only is self-realization.”


  2. Bob OHearn says:

    “Grasping to a non-existent self, we misread our world and lose the true treasure of our mind. Because of our belief in a self that must be preserved at all costs, ego controls our every mental, emotional, verbal, and physical act. Although our wisdom mind is completely radiant at all times, we become like a homeless prince: a monarch who lives like a vagabond, unaware of his own inheritance.”

    ~Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

  3. Hariod Brawn says:

    Thankyou for this beautiful teaching Bob. If you would clarify a point for my benefit, I would greatly appreciate it. When you refer to “the space of fundamental reality” and also “the basic space of the natural state”, do you mean ‘space’ in the positive sense of extension, or do you rather mean quite the opposite of that i.e. total non-locality? _/\_

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Hi Hariod, glad to hear you found the post of merit!

      What I am pointing to in this consideration is that in which the universe of appearances and possibilities, whether of samsara or nirvana, arise, dance, and dissolve. It has also been called the expanse of spontaneous presence. Regardless of names, whatever appears is simply the adornment or modification of this basic space, or as some commentators describe it: the scope of naturally occurring timeless awareness, the true nature of phenomena.


      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Thanks Bob. Yes, I understand, though my question still obtains I feel. Terms like ‘expanse’ and ‘space’ naturally connote ‘spatial extension’ – even if in relation to metaphysical Presence/Nibbana – but are you meaning those terms in that sense, or as I said, non-locality? Put another way, is awareness in a different category to all that comes under that which exists or appears by virtue of ‘spatial extension’?

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Hi again, Hariod!

        In short, awareness is one with appearances, in the same sense of ocean and wave, if that helps.

        Ultimately, language is rather inadequate except as a pointer. Fortunately we need not depend on it, but can inspect our own experience to clarify the matter.

        This is also the reason for suggesting attention be turned around, or as Dogen Zenji recommended: “Take the backward step and shine the light inward.”

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Yes Bob, I understand that so-called subjectivity and objectivity are mind constructs alone as apprehended. So, to persist somewhat obdurately with the point, if you will permit me to sir, albeit from a different angle – does space (and hence all things extensible within it) exist as its own ontological category? _/\_

      • Bob OHearn says:

        What is your experience, Hariod? That is the purpose of these writings, to provoke self-inquiry. If they have any value, it would be in encouraging the reader to examine their own experience.
        That said, I will try once more to address your point by saying that the word space is used because what I am referring to is like the body or realm of empty space where all phenomena such as things, oneself, other beings, emotions, wisdom, and all experiences can occur openly, can manifest, abide and dissolve, without any obstruction. This is because the nature of space is empty and nonexistent, while being the basic environment of all phenomena.

    • Hariod Brawn says:

      The reason I persisted so, Bob, was because there are many claiming that all there is, is consciousness, and I wanted to ascertain where you stood. They are Idealists in that they correctly believe all forms are apprehended as mental imagery, not the thing itself, though they deny the existence of the thing itself – in other words they are Transcendental Idealists. Personally, and for the little it is worth, I take this to be an absurd position, and that there is a world of extensible and material things, including ‘my’ individuated body.

      That said, I have had episodes in which all subjectivity and objectivity dissolved, and so were known to have been mind constructs alone. When first experienced, the thinking mind leapt in as if to say ‘let me make sense of this’, and I laughed at the total absurdity of it wanting to conceptualise what was in any case so starkly and irrefutably evident.

      Getting back to the matter of space and extension – i.e. the world and one’s individuated body – then a little formula of words that the rational mind formulated for itself when first encountering that experience just alluded to, was this: ‘The world and consciousness both exist and are identical’. That is a paradox to reason of course Bob. o_O _/\_

      • Bob OHearn says:

        As I wrote in the original post: “what is” and “what we are”, are not two. And yes, it is a paradox to the verbal mind which relies on human logic to figure stuff out and put it all in neatly-filed categories. Thanks for sharing your own experience, and reflections!


      • Bob OHearn says:

        Hello again, Hariod!

        I was reviewing comments here, and realized that I never fully addressed your inquiry regarding consciousness and objectivity. I am wondering if you are familiar with the “Mind Only” schools of Buddhist philosophy? There is a long tradition of inquiry into the very issues you raised here, most prominently within the Yogacara formulations. If you have not already examined the tenets of that influential stream of teachings, perhaps that would be of interest to you in your own inquiry. Here is a link to get you started:


      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Thankyou Bob; I was trained in Theravadin teachings, more specifically in dry insight and concentration practices as against book teachings and associated cosmological theories, and that same school would not be so very different to the Mahayana Yogācāra school, I believe, in that the Yogācāra largely realigns Mahayanist developments with Orthodox Buddhism as I understand it. _/\_

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Likewise, I was trained initially in Rinzai Zen, and only after leaving the monastery where I trained, did I encounter the various texts, sects, and varieties of philosophical pursuits associated with the Buddhist schools. I count myself lucky in that respect! 😉

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    “Can the mind be aware of itself without the watcher?

    If the whole of life is a movement, a flux, then how can it be watched unless there is a watcher? Now, we are conditioned to believe, and we feel we know, that there is a watcher as well as a movement, a process, so we think we are separate from the process. To most of us there is the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience. For us that is so; we accept it as a matter of fact. But is it so? Is there a thinker, an observer, a watcher apart from thought, apart from thinking, apart from experience. Is there a thinker, a centre, without thought? If you remove thought, is there a centre? If you have no thought at all, no struggle, no urge to acquire, no effort to become something, is there a centre? Or is the centre created by thought, which feels itself to be insecure, impermanent, in a state of flux? If you observe, you will find that it is the thought process that has created the centre, which is still within the field of thinking. And is it possible -this is the point- to watch, to be aware of this process, without the watcher? Can the mind, which is the process, be aware of itself?”

    – J. Krishnamurti,
    The Collected Works, Vol. X,14,Choiceless Awareness

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    Question: We listen to so much that is beautiful.

    Anandamayi Ma: Beautiful? As long as you make a distinction between beautiful and ugly, you have not listened.

    Question: . . . and some we understand .

    Ma “We understand” that is useless, for he who understands and what is understood have remained separate.

    Question: . . . and some we forget .

    Ma: Forget? Forget the forgetting; death must die.

    Question: . . . and some we remember . .

    Ma: remember? That means you keep it in your mind. Throw it away; lay it at His feet. What I say is: keep satsang. Satsang in reality means the realisation of What Is.

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “Realize yourself as the ocean of consciousness in which all happens. This is not difficult. A little of attentiveness, of close observation of oneself, and you will see that no event is outside your consciousness.”

    ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    All appearances are vast openness,
    Blissful and utterly free.

    With a free, happy mind
    I sing this song of joy.

    When one looks toward one’s own mind,
    The root of all phenomena,
    There is nothing but vivid emptiness,
    Nothing concrete there to be taken as real.

    It is present and transparent, utter openness,
    Without outside, without inside,
    An all pervasiveness
    Without boundary and without direction.

    The wide-open expanse of the view,
    The true condition of the mind,
    Is like the sky, like space:
    Without center, without edge, without goal.

    By leaving whatever I experience
    Relaxed in ease, just as it is,
    I have arrived at the vast plain
    That is the absolute expanse.

    Dissolving into the expanse of emptiness
    That has no limits and no boundary,
    Everything I see, everything I hear,
    My own mind, and the sky all merge.

    Not once has the notion arisen
    Of these being separate and distinct.

    In the absolute expanse of awareness
    All things are blended into that single taste,
    But, relatively, each and every phenomenon is distinctly,
    clearly seen.


    ~ Shabkar

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    Let yourself become that space that welcomes any experience without judgement.

    ~ Tsoknyi Rinpoche

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    A Song to Introduce the Unmistaken View of the Great Perfection

    Placing my head at the feet of the Dharma King, I offer homage: Bless me that I might see natural luminosity.

    Hey, you of great fortune!

    Sit without moving, like a tent peg driven into hard earth!

    Gaze with your eyes neither open nor closed, like the eyes of a deity in a fresco!

    And let your mind settle, loose and relaxed, like a woollen blanket spread out on the ground…

    At times like these, while resting in the utter brilliance that is the space beyond thought, which may be likened to a cloudless sky, you will experience unimpeded translucence like a faultless crystal.

    This is none other than the view of the ultimate, the luminous Great Perfection. Resting in equipoise within the pure luminosity, vividly clear like the sky, dullness and agitation are naturally voided and do not arise anew – a faultless, brilliantly clear non-conceptual meditation. When thought arises, be it good or bad, it is recognized for what it is and will not disturb. Focus upon this method and view your genuine nature; effortless, it arises by relaxing into the expanse, and thoughts are pacified on their own ground.

    When you are able to practice for longer periods, it can be like, for example, when muddy water is stirred up and then allowed to settle – the innate lucidity of the water becomes clearer. Similarly, when myriad appearances arise and are realized to be like reflections, they cause the natural clarity of mind itself to become ever clearer. This in turn leads to the effortless arising of various qualities, such as the various types of clairvoyance and so on.

    Should even the Great Master of Oḍḍiyāna appear before you, he’d have nothing greater than this to say on the view of the Great Perfection.

    Should even Longchen Rabjam appear before you, he’d have nothing greater to teach you on the practice of taking thought as the path.

    Should even the twenty-five exalted disciples appear before you, they’d have nothing greater to say concerning this practice.

    As for myself, a yogin, this is my practice, and I have no greater meditation instruction to offer you.

    You may analyze meticulously, but when a wind blows it naturally disperses the clouds and the sky can be seen. Endeavour to see empty clarity, mind itself, in the same way – there is nothing greater than this understanding. If you don’t stir up the silt, the water will remain clear; as such, don’t analyze. Simply rest without contrivance and you will come to see the emptiness of mind itself. There is nothing greater to see than this!

    There are many views, but that of the emptiness of mind itself, devoid of all grasping, is the unmistaken view of the Great Perfection. When death comes to yogis of this method they are able to seize the clear light of death.

    Hearing about it is beneficial, but I pray the actual experience of clear light will become evident.

    Written by the old ignoramus, Gangshar Wangpo. May it prove meaningful!

    Translated by Sean Price, 2015

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    “In brief, whatever is dawning, be right there with an uncontrived mind. Do not involve yourself with stopping, or starting, or with any modification whatsoever. Whatever arises, stay uncontrivedly right with that arising. Don’t reel your mind in, don’t cast around for an object of meditation out there. Be right there with the meditator, your very own mind. Unfound when sought, your own mind is primordially empty mind nature. Seeking also is unnecessary; the seeker — yourself — is that [which one is seeking]. Unwaveringly remain right with that very seeker.”

    Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche

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