Meditation doesn’t mean withdrawing from the world, so how do we remain ‘resting in spaciousness’ while still interacting with the world?

A student asks:

I have been pondering my concept of meditation – resting in spaciousness, allowing thoughts, feelings and everything else to manifest within my awareness and trying not to be distracted by anything, but if I take this into my everyday life, resting in spaciousness at all times, am I simply failing to interact with the physical world, surely this is not right?

Lama Shenpen replies:

True – it’s not right!


Or does it mean that I choose to interact or follow a story line in my daily life…

Lama Shenpen:

Yes, in order to manifest at all there has to be the story line – the time dimension to the manifestation. We use the term story line pejoratively when we let ourselves be distracted and buy into negative story lines.

Taking Refuge and following the Bodhisattva path is a positive story line – it is important to have positive story lines or we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. We wouldn’t do anything, well, it would be impossible not to have a story line in fact.


…and with that choice, I am still connected to that spaciousness?

Lama Shenpen:

You could say it was a story line to believe you are still connected to spaciousness but that is not so much a matter of a story line as simply a fact about how things are.

You are never anything other than spaciousness. You never really solidify into anything, you are the ungraspable essence of what is appearing and so you are always spaciousness – there is no other you.


…and therefore interact in a more spontaneous and appropriate way?

Lama Shenpen:

This is more like it. If we solidify our view of reality and grasp on to a distorted version of it, the chances of our actions being skilful is significantly reduced and the chances of them being negative are increased.

If we do not solidify and if we keep open and free in the way we perceive the world around us and our place in it, then we spontaneously find opportunities for positive action even when not doing anything at all – we are spontaneously contributing to the welfare of the world by the way we are and action does flow from that. It’s bound to, and it is bound to be effective and appropriate.

Lama Shenpen’s students are following the Living the Awakened Heart Training – a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a Western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at