ADVANCED TEACHING: Living Without a Storyline

The field of boundless emptiness (unconditioned love) is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies (to construct a story) you have fabricated into apparent habits (stories). Zen Master Hongzhi

Live Without Desire



Awakening has the quality of surprise, not the type of surprise that excites or frightens but the type of surprise that goes beyond space and time and the stuff imagined in space and time. It requires a leap from ordinary consciousness to awareness of what we fabricate in consciousness. The leap is to purify, cure, grind down or brush away the tendency to make up and believe in our stories.

How about THAT!

What do we fabricate in consciousness? Stories.

Our stories like all stories are fabricated out of images, forms, names, memories, feelings, and desires. All fabricated into “I-ego.”

To look and see into consciousness itself as it rolls along reflecting on space and time requires a leap of transcendence. We leap away from belief in the fabricated story in the mind as true and real.

It makes sense doesn’t it?

In ordinary life, in the daily activity of the consciousness we use, we need to step back or step away from the rolling, moving activity and look into what we are doing.

Stepping back is a small move of purifying the mind awareness. We use awareness to look at the fabrications which is a leap of transcendence that goes beyond space and time. We stop being convinced of our stories as true.

Most of us have had a tiny taste of looking at our activity in this way. It is those times when we exclaim “What am I doing?” It is sudden awareness of seeing into mind. Seeing what script we are following. 

In order for it to be spiritually illuminating we need to recognize that the story line is not real and not true. This vision requires that we have gained some disenchantment with the story and are willing to disentangle from it.

What I mean by entanglement is a reference to thinking and believing that whatever the mind has fabricated is real and true. This shift is a big deal and takes practice. 

You see, we need to know that what our ordinary consciousness displays is a story. We can know this because we tell “our” story to others. It is a common occurrence filled with distorted embellishments that tend towards making things look better than they were or worse.

We put together things we remember in such a way to look and appear in a particular way. Of course all of this is laid out on the Wheel of Life and Death which shows us our story begins in ignorance every time. Now this really isn’t a “bad” or “good” thing, it only becomes a troubling thing when we think and believe the story is real and become identified and attached to the story.

You and I can have stories, but they are not real. They come and they go. They are distorted as well as under the influence of change. Believing and thinking that the stories are true are the fabrications of the mind; part of the illusory world.

These illusions are quite interesting to us. When we get too convinced by them as true and real they hinder the Light of Transcendence. All sorts of difficulties arise from these illusions in the mind.

We tend to take a stand for or against. We tend to think we are right and someone else is wrong. We tend to fixate on these illusions to the point we suffer from them.

Our feelings around these stories glue them together. Our feelings drive the story which of course drives our life to look like the story we tell ourselves.

It is very much like watching a movie. The story line is driven by a pull  or a tug on our feelings. When we realize the story or script in the mind like a movie is not real. Realize it as a story. we have the potential to let them go and not be hindered by them. 

Since most of us are attached to our stories letting go is a struggle. What is helpful here is to recognize the story for what it is – not true, not real. It is important not to get into the content of the story. Getting into the content strengthens our grip around the story and hinders the Light of transcendence. 


Silence and solitude help us see the concoctions we cook up. We have to learn to be quiet and let go of running the stories. When the stories are cleared out the present moment is lived. It makes sense doesn’t it? If you are running a concocted story all the time, everywhere you go, you are not living in the present moment. You are living in the story line in your head. Whatever storyline you got going is what you are making of your life. To study the story line is part of practice, to know that you run storylines is a realization. To let go of the storylines is transcendence; transcending space and time. And it is there you will find out who you are, for real.

How about THAT!




Let’s see if we can run through a simple story; just a one-liner story.


Simple enough, but many, many repercussions can follow this simple story the “I-ego” wants to fabricate.

Immediately add, this story is not true. This story is not real.

Notice what happens. Does an interior battle begin? Do you begin to enumerate evidence for the one-liner to be true. Or do you enumerate against the one-liner? Either way, you are making up more stories and falling into the content.


Drop the one-liner.

Notice how you put the story together? Did you use comparative thoughts? STOP comparing.

Drop the one-liner?

Is there a residue of feeling sad or happy left behind?

Know the one-liner is not real, not true. It is a ghost in the mind.

Step back and watch the fabrications.

You see, you can live without a story. It is an awakened life worth living. You meet what shows up moment in moment meeting, empty of fabrications.

Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog. If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact the editor at:


ANNOUNCEMENT: Please Welcome a NEW Monk!

Old Fire

Lao Huo Shakya


We are happy to welcome a new monk (unsui) to A Single Thread | Contemplative Order of Hsu Yun. The Dharma ceremony took place this month in Evanston, Illinois, USA. It was a beautiful ceremony where the monk received the robe and transmission into the lineage of Linji/ Yunmen at A Single Thread |Contemplative Order Priory.




ADVANCED TEACHING: Live Without Desire

All phenomena, the Buddha once said, are rooted in desire. Everything we think, say, or do — every experience — comes from desire. Even we come from desire. We were reborn into this life because of our desire to be. Consciously or not, our desires keep redefining our sense of who we are.

Thanisarro Bhikkhu

First, look at your mind – and study it. It is exquisite in telling you where the clouds and dust are. It uses discomfort and comfort to alert you. Where feeling arises, desire hides.

You must be willing to go beyond your old stories – those tales about yourself that you put together. Those constructions you take for granted as ‘you.’ You think those old stories are you – even those little momentary constructions of wanting something to go your way. All those stories you collected you rely on.

The mind is constantly getting a mixed message – of discomfort and comfort. When comfort boils over you get excited, thrilled and exuberant; when discomfort boils over you get hesitant and search for a fix. These two sensations are heavenly messengers. They signal, like clouds excitement of comfort and excitement of discomfort. It forecasts conflict and tells you desire is at the root of it.

The root is desire. Desire to get something or desire to get rid of something. Wanting and not wanting. Both cause vexation. Find the root desire and let it dissolve. Let the desire wind down and disappear.

Start small. Watch for desire. When you spot it don’t resist it or activate it. See it. Stay still. Let the desire dissolve. Everything is in flux, even desire. Let the natural fluctuations of change  carry the desire away. Don’t be carried away by desire.

Desire for anything stirs up the mind. We go after something on the wing of desire. We get away from something on the run. Let desire fly away. Let desire run through the mind.

I know. You think and even believe you need desire to live. You’re probably saying there is good desire and bad desire. Or perhaps telling yourself you need just a little desire otherwise  — otherwise nothing will happen. You might even die. You believe this story because you’ve been hoodwinked. You’re not alone. Most people believe you need desire. Ask yourself — what if I didn’t need desire? What if I tried to live without it for one day and see what happens. Maybe I don’t need desire. Find out.

If you think about it, wasn’t desire the whole problem in the Garden of Eden? Isn’t desire the whole problem today?

Both then and now we are taken in by desire. Here’s how it traps you. Desire arises. Fabrications in the mind follow. You begin to build a story of how to get what you want or get away from what you don’t want. The story brings the winds, the eight worldly winds: gain&loss, pleasure&pain, praise&blame, fame&disrepute. Of course we tend to focus only on one side telling ourselves that we can minimize the damage and get our reward by fulfilling our desire.

Try something else. Focus on the nature of consciousness when rapt in desire, fabrications and the eight winds. The dust is blown around with fighting, the clouds of conflict descend and rough roads appear. Impulses wreak havoc. All because you think and believe desire is real and solid and a necessity.

This is the way of the world.

The Divine work is different. When desire arises we know it is not real or solid. We see it for what it is. A figment of our imagination. OH, I know you’re going to start asking a what about question. What about desire for God. Don’t get hoodwinked by that either. That leads to lots and lots of fabrications and stories about what Divine work is and how to get a thing you call God or Peace or Liberation.

Sorry, there is a but…..
The “but” is that unless you are doing the Divine work you are full of desire….so it seems that the prudent thing is to change one of those desires into a ‘desire for the divine work.’ WRONG! Just jump in and work with all desire as unreal without even deciding whether to do Divine work or not. Just jump in. Turn away from the jumpy desire in the mind. Look at your mind. Study it in such a way you are able to spot desire rise and let it fly away.

Stay silent. Sit still. Listen. Study the mind. Watch for desire to pop in. Let it fade off. Let desire dissolve. Let it wind down. Rely on the fluctuations that are a natural, ever-present power to carry the desires away.

I bow to the Divine teacher. I offer gratitude for the teachings.
May the merit of this teaching benefit all beings in the ten directions.
Humming Bird

Author: FaShi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog. If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching, please contact the editor at: