Heart’s mirror clear reflects beyond fetter.
The void stripped clean, innumerable worlds.
All things in their majesty, shadowed and seen there.
The single gleaming jewel: not witin, not without.
Hsuan Chueh (665-713)
It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgement, comfort or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking.
“Beside the river was a grove of tall naked cotton woods- trees of great antiquity and enormous size- so large that they seemed to belong to a bygone age. They grew far apart, and their strange twisted shapes must have come about from the ceaseless winds that bent them to the east and scoured them with sand, and from the fact that they lived with very little water,- the river was nearly dry here for most of the year. The trees rose off of the ground at a slant, and forty or fifty feet above the earth all these white, dry trunks changed their direction, grew back over ther base line, Some split into great forks which arched down almost to the ground; some did notipped downward fork at all, but the main trunk d in a strong curve, as if drawn by a bowstring: and some terminated in a thick coruscation of growth, like a crooked palm tree. They were all living trees and yet they seemed to be of old, dead, dry wood, and had very scant foliage. High up in the forks, or at the end of a preposterous length of twisted bough, would burst a faint bouquet of delicate green leaves- out of all keeping with the lengths of seasoned white trunk and branches. The grove looked like a winter wood of giant trees, with clusters of mistletow growing among the bare boughs.”
Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather 1927