How do we do this purifying? We are always in the position to see directly into the basic space of all phenomena, because that is the nature of our experience. Realize the emptiness of mind, or polish and clean. As long as we remain fixated on individual things, on this or that, we remain caught in the dualistic cage of confusion. When we make no biased distinction about “this,” whatever “this” is at this moment, then without that frame of reference, everything is in a state of equality. Utter freedom.
We frequently use the image of the net of Indra as another way of pointing to what emptiness really is, but there is actually a subtle problem with that image. It says that every single thing in the universe is a diamond with multifaceted reflective surfaces within which we can see every other diamond. If we reflect on how we’re hearing that metaphor, we realize that inevitably we land on the points of those diamonds. The very metaphor that is trying to speak to nothing other than relatedness becomes about the relationship between things. That’s not what emptiness is. There is no relationship between things because there are no things. There is no self and other. There is no relationship between you and me. That doesn’t mean there isn’t pure relatedness— this is where the mind bends and has to break the solid bonding. This is where the reference point disappears.
Pure relatedness is the nature of this experience, and it works without needing to posit those diamonds. What is a thing when the relationships are seen through, when the reference system disappears? It’s quite effective and easy to sustain this illusion that “I’m here” when I have all these different ways that I can verify it. For example, I can look at each one of you and see you looking back at me. That is why we lower our eyes when we do intensive meditation retreats—to break up that pattern, to start cutting through the way that we are sustaining the solidity of ourselves.
There were many experiments with sensory deprivation early on in the 1960s. When you cut off the gates of the senses and you start to float in the space of your mind, your external perceptions and the way of organizing yourself with respect to things around you is eliminated. Unless you are a profoundly stable practitioner, you go crazy. In that spaciousness of the lack of sensory data—you’re not hearing, seeing, feeling anything—the only things that are left are your good old thoughts. This is a crisis situation.