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Lions Roar : September 2017
Another term for directly engaging our karma might be “con- scious suffering.” This involves saying “yes” to our pain, opening ourselves to it, as it is. This kind of yes doesn’t mean, “I like it, I’m glad it’s like this.” It just means, “Yes, this is what’s happening.” Whatever comes up, you are willing to meet it and have a direct experience of it. For example, if you’re hard-hearted, you have a full experience of that. Then you see how acknowledging this affects you and what comes from doing that. This involves learning to ride the waves of our feelings rather than becoming submerged in them. This requires mind- fulness of where we are in the cycle of emotional experience. A skilled surfer is aware of exactly where he is on a wave, whereas an unskilled surfer winds up getting creamed. By their very nature, waves are rising fifty percent of the time and falling the other fifty percent. Instead of fighting the down cycles of our emotional life, we need to learn to keep our seat on the surf- board and have a full, conscious experience of going down. Especially in a culture that is addicted to “up,” we especially need our “yes” when the down cycles unfold—to be willing to fall apart, retreat, slow down, be patient, let go. For it’s often at the bottom of a down cycle, when everything looks totally bleak and miserable, that we finally receive a flash of insight that lets us see the hidden contours of some huge ego fixation in which we’ve been stuck all our life. Having a full, conscious experience of the down cycle as it’s occurring, instead of fighting or transcending it, lets us be available for these moments of illumination. While the peaks of absolute love are most beautiful, few but the saints can spend all their time there. Relative human love is not a peak experience nor a steady state. It wavers, fluctu- ates, waxes and wanes, changes shape and intensity, soars and crashes. “This is the exalted melancholy of our fate,” writes Buber, describing how moments of I Thou communion cannot last too very long. Yet though relationships participate fully in the law of impermanence, the good news is that this allows new surprises and revelations to keep arising endlessly. Not One, Not Two: Relationship as Koan Relating to the full spectrum of our experience in the relational charnel ground leads to a self-acceptance that expands our capacity to embrace and accept others as well. Usually our view of our partners is colored by what they do for us—how they make us look or feel good, or not—and shaped by our internal movie about what we want them to be. This of course makes it hard to see them for who they are in their own right. Beyond our movie of the other is a much larger field of per- sonal and spiritual possibilities, what Walt Whitman referred to when he said, “I contain multitudes.” These “multitudes” are what keep a relationship fresh and interesting, but they can only do that if we can accept the ways that those we love are different from us—in their background, values, perspectives, qualities, Spiritual Crucible continued from page 65 Half Retreat December 26-29th, 2017 Full Retreat Dec. 26th, 2017 - Jan 1st, 2018 At the Garrison Institute, NY year end retreat village zendo village zendo A Zen Temple in the Heart of Manhattan Daily Meditation, Workshops and Retreats Abbot Roshi Enkyo O’Hara 588 Broadway, Suite 1108 New York City villagezendo.org villagezendo.org LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 78