Intermezzo 11: Concepts are not facts

Mike: As people who were born into a culture which is basically Cartesian, we adopt concepts and we use those concepts in conversations or in our work as though they were facts. They are not facts; they are concepts, until we embody them. Does that make sense? Kieran has suddenly woken up, what has struck you Kieran?

Kieran: In the morning I went for a walk and we were talking about exactly this.

Mike: There you are you see …

The only way to find out if something really works is to stop treating it as a concept, but become it; then you have embodied it. From that position you can say that this works or it doesn’t work. From the position of conceptualisation you can make no judgement. We are talking about theory not practice.

So what is stillness? Without examining that word very carefully and being fully aware of the context in which it is being used, we accept without thinking a conventional interpretation of ‘what is stillness?’ The conventional meaning of stillness is nothing is moving.  The horse is moving; the horse is standing still. The clouds are moving across the sky―there is no wind―the clouds are very still. That is the conventional meaning of stillness.

Another meaning is it relates to non-attachment. Everything is moving; the universe is in motion; the universe cannot help being in motion; the universe and everything in it is in motion. I am still in my awareness of that, and I am not attached and not drawn off by the universe and all its contents. My mind is active; I am meditating; things are coming and going in my mind, but I don’t go with them. I am still in my awareness of what is going on in my mind. I am not trying to be a zombie and have no movements in my mind. I am not trying to be a zombie and have no movements in my body. I am not yet suffering from rigor mortis; it will come soon I have no doubt!

Print this article in pdf Print this Article

A Poem from Sarajo Berman

Timeless time


A gaze of dense love passing

Offering the tone for the day

A rite of passage felt by all

For love, will, determination, courage,

These were the midline holding the dance together

The axis for coming into life

Leaving death to itself

Sweet bird like offerings of soft lips

Calm the breathing

Opening space filled with vitalization

Supported with gentle sips of fluids for moistening

Ebbs and flows alternately lapped the edges of the room

Returning to wait for a new direction of flow

Timeless time


The moment arrived




An answer to a mystery beamed brighter than the spotlight

Crowning of a fairy for all to see

Singing of an angel filled the room with delight

Breath stopped momentarily

Expanding inhale rejoicing permeating space

Sighs, tears, laughter


Timeless time


Days now opened and holding opportunities



Coming into relationship

Unknown sensing filling the space between them

All surrounded by a dynamic

A stillness in motion

Gentle quivers make way for openness

Unlimited possibilities

Oh, the joy of connecting

Nesting, rejoining what we know to be


Never to be the same again.

Sarajo Berman

An Empty Bowl

I have a metal bowl.

It was made by the latest in a lineage of such bowl makers.

It is empty, though the Ocean is in it.

If I strike it, it rings and that is useful.

I can put flowers in it, that is beautiful and that is useful but it wont ring.

My grand-son could pee in it and probably would and that would be useful but it wouldn’t ring.

If I approach it from stillness and get into joint practice with it, it sings beautifully

And the sound goes all round the Universe

And that is very useful

And the bowl is empty.

I have a mind.

It was made in eternity.

And if thoughts are in it, that is useful.

And if lesions are in it and edges of resistance, that is useful.

And sometimes it is full of roses and sometimes full of piss

and I can work with that and that is useful.

But if it is empty and I can approach another in stillness,

There is room for the whole story and she remembers who she really is

and the universe remembers who it is

and that is really useful.

And the mind is empty.

Mike Boxhall. May 2000

Click the arrow image below for an audio version:-

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.