Traces Or Kenosis?

In Faith in Mind: A Commentary on Seng Ts’an’s Classic, Chan master Sheng Yen writes:


After a bird has flown from one tree to another, what trace did it leave in the air? Again, when you stand in front of a mirror, you see your image reflected in it. But after you have gone, what is left in the mirror? Your mind should be like this; any event that occurs should leave no trace in your mind. (p. 121)

I’m reminded of Tao Te Ching, Chapter 27, which begins: “A good walker leaves no tracks.” A Taoist sage, like the nimble traveler, moves unmoved, walking without leaving any traces behind.

Everything moves while the mind, still vibrating softly, remains relatively unmoved.

See your own mind now, observing how events leave, and have left, plenty of traces behind. The storehouse is nearly full with memories of suffering and with patterns of negative emotional reactivity. The mind grasps hard, desperately onto what is slipping through its fingers. The mind prospectively fears what shall one day be gone. The mind returns again and again and again to what ails and to what promises, falsely, to bring all the suffering to an end. 

Traces and traces and traces.

Meditation, you see, is kenosis: the self-emptying of it all, the emptying of it all out, most especially the sense of being a separate self. Emptying and emptying and emptying to the point that traces are traceless.

The Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15: “Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?” More like: and what remains as the dust settles and when all the dust, here or not here, here and not here, is gone?