It’s the thing we are, away from the artifice of ourselves. It’s the place-neutral, in the absence of hope and plan and company. It’s the what (what, not who) we are, sitting motionless in a chair, staring out a window, with every other possibility stripped away. The is that is.

I’ve been trying to understand it.

Reducing one’s self to the absolute minimum of Self is an interesting exercise. It’s a scariness, this empty-canvas, this blank page, this dance floor populated with nothing but echoes.

And the question for the writer is this: Is it enough?

The idea came up in a conversation the other day: How much can the mental/emotional organism take before it’s too much? What’s the difference between those who persist and those who give up; those who bend and those who break?

When we’re reduced to what visits the eye, the ear, the skin—and the rackety thoughts that rattle around in our tin can heads—what do we learn about ourselves? How does one wipe away the anxiety and uncertainty that remain inside? How does the writer find the Buddha nature? What work, what self, might sprout from the clear-cut ground of ourselves?

It’s a challenge more than an exercise. As writers, we live in the practice of observation. We visit other lives; hear other voices, become other selves. We shout with our writing into an essentially deaf universe. We yearn to be seen, known, acknowledged. Take all of that away, even for a minute, and what’s left? Who is the me that’s left when me is all there is?

Re-learning the Simplest Self is shaking-making. Trying to live apart from want and maybe is like trying to hold one’s breath underwater. It is, I expect, a life’s work in an inner universe as big as this one.

Maybe the trick is to visit empty plain. Not to live there.

P.S. If you haven’t yet come to see me @, here’s your invitation. Come on over. Have a read–13 chapters on me.