Just Become A Swinging Door

Shunryu Suzuki

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When we practice [meditation] our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into our inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say "inner world" or "outer world," but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door.

If you think "I breathe," the "I" is extra. There is no you to say "I." What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no "I," no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.

So when we practice [meditation], all that exists is the movement of the breathing, but we are aware of this movement. You should not be absent-minded. But to be aware of the movement does not mean to be aware of your small self, but rather of your universal nature ... This kind of awareness is very important, because we are usually so one-sided.

Our usual understanding of life is dualistic: you and I, this and that, good and bad. But actually these discriminations are themselves the awareness of the universal existence. "You" means to be aware of the universe in the form of you, and "I" means to be aware of it in the form of I. You and I are just swinging doors. [...]

This moment the swinging door is opening in one direction, and the next moment the swinging door will be opening in the opposite direction.

Moment after moment each one of us repeats this activity. Here there is no idea of time or space. Time and space are one. [...]

When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of, and at the same time, dependent on everything. Without air, we cannot breathe. Each of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds. We are in the center of the world always, moment after moment. So we are completely dependent and independent. If you have this kind of experience, this kind of existence, you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anything. 

Suzuki Roshi was a world-renowned Zen meditation teacher. Excerpt above from the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion of being like a swinging door? Can you share a personal story of a time when awareness of your breath made you aware of your universal nature? What helps you become truly yourself?

Add Your Reflection:

6 Previous Reflections:

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    On Jun 22, 2021 Deven Pravin Shah wrote:
    So beautifully said - my breathing happens continuously: and every breathe can be a reminder for me to connect with the universal consciousness and detach from my small self or the ego.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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    On Jun 22, 2021 Jennifer wrote:
    What is out? What is in? It depends where you stand or which direction you face.Or--
    you are not in one place but all places. You face not one direction but all. You are both next to the swinging door and infinite miles away.

    1 reply: Inrereasting | Post Your Reply
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    On Jun 20, 2021 vinod eshwer wrote:
    let it come. let it go. let it all pass. be a passage.
    as SN Goenka, the reknowned meditation teachersays in his instructions, "be like a gatekeepr, a watchman, aware of every breath coming in, aware of every breath going out. do nothing. just be aware."

    Post Your Reply
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    On Jun 20, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    A swinging door divides a space into what appears to be two separate spaces. A person swings between a multitude of dialectics in one whole life. The dialectics include individuality-togetherness, living-dying, material-spiritual, awake-asleep, inside-outside, independent-dependent, and on and on. In reflection and meditation, attention to my breathing helps me be aware that inhaling-exhaling is one more dialectic that is really one whole like all other dialectics. I am like a swinging door between what appears to be two but really is one. I belong to both and neither side of every dialectic. I am whole. All creation is whole. What helps me become truly myself is accepting the swinging door that being a human being is, accepting the dialectics of life, being the connection rather than separation of what appears to be two opposites, seeing the wholeness rather than separation, having as much of what appears to be two opposites as I can get, and becoming more integrated and whole.

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    On Jun 18, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    When I am fully engaged in what I am doing I feel oneness within me and without me. The line of separationfades away and I feel oneness between the inner and the outer world. The difference between doing and being, having and being slips away. This happens when my mind is calm, clear, and pure. I feel oneness within and without, between the outer and the inner world. It is a non-dualistic experience. Six of the members of our family were on a pilgrimage to Amarnath, a five thousandshigh peak on the Himalayas.The sun was setting. The sky was clear. There was deep silence. All of us felt the oneness between the outer world and the inner world. It was an unforgettable experience. In deep meditative state I experience such oneness between the inner world and the outer world. I just become a swinging door as ShunryuSuzuki puts it. To be true to oneself, to be truly oneself, requires consistent trainingof my mind. When my mind gets divided between the inner world and the outer world, I bec... [View Full Comment] When I am fully engaged in what I am doing I feel oneness within me and without me. The line of separationfades away and I feel oneness between the inner and the outer world. The difference between doing and being, having and being slips away. This happens when my mind is calm, clear, and pure. I feel oneness within and without, between the outer and the inner world. It is a non-dualistic experience.

    Six of the members of our family were on a pilgrimage to Amarnath, a five thousandshigh peak on the Himalayas.The sun was setting. The sky was clear. There was deep silence. All of us felt the oneness between the outer world and the inner world. It was an unforgettable experience. In deep meditative state I experience such oneness between the inner world and the outer world. I just become a swinging door as ShunryuSuzuki puts it.

    To be true to oneself, to be truly oneself, requires consistent trainingof my mind. When my mind gets divided between the inner world and the outer world, I become aware of the truth of oneness of the soul. We all are one
    The dualistic mind becomes non-dualistic. The individual self becomes the universal self. When I do selfless service I feel the fullness of living. To me life is a spiritual journey and I need to remain awake if and when I deviate from my spiritual path.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'









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