"Do you remember when we were kids how we used to lie on the ground and look up at the sky and watch the clouds and all the shapes they formed? (Maybe not just when we were kids.) 'This one's a duck. Now it is a swan, no, it's a monster.' Remember how they transformed and dissipated, and new forms appeared? And how we sometimes made up stories? We didn't call it cloud-gazing. We didn't call it anything. It just happened and we were just watching. Maybe nowadays we might see a Buddha, an OM or a dakini, perhaps even drawing some significance.
But what happens when we shift our gaze from the clouds to the sky? Just the sky itself ... leaving aside its condensations. They arise, they abide and they dissolve, and still the sky remains.
Here's what the Vijnana Bhairava, that 10th century Kashmiri text, says about it:
Unblinking, one's whole being immobile, if one beholds the pure sky,
at that very moment, the Inexpressible reveals itself.
And perhaps now we live in a city or our usual visual field is the computer screen rather than nature. Perhaps now our ever-transforming experience from monster to swan is from drama to comedy, or the inverse. Maybe the images that arise, abide and dissolve are body sensations or emotions, jobs or relationships. We still make up stories. But the sky of awareness from which they condense remains, even as its condensations metamorphose: in sky-gazing, we are neither perturbed nor enchanted by the cloud formations.
-- Joan Ruvinsky