Posts Tagged ‘loss’

I’m sitting here processing the news that a loved one has lost a loved one whom I didn’t know well, but treasure for his place in my loved one’s life. I’m too far away to be able to offer my direct support, so I’m putting extra focus in my heart to give the indirect support I can.

It’s putting my mind on how we each process sorrow. I’m turning to my own spiritual gumbo of “Christian Zen Taoist” and so on and so forth… and realizing how tough it can be sometimes to communicate exactly how I experience the world and the people who share it with me, particularly in times like this.

I know I’ve written before that when I consider the Buddhist ideal of “non-attachment”, I view it similar to how Alan Watts spoke of “not getting hung up about things”. It’s not that we don’t develop deep and meaningful connections; rather, we practice holding in our hearts and minds the interconnectedness of all things when those individual connections are severed.

It can be a pretty painful practice while we recover from a severed connection, though.

In a well-lived life, there will be people, places and things we will love. We will treasure when they are near, and miss them when they are gone. We will feel bright joy and tranquil comfort, and if we practice we can even feel those warmths deeply while we are within them. We can also feel hot anger and cold sorrow, and it’s important to practice feeling those consciously as well. We need to not fear painful emotions, nor get caught up in the idea of them. We need to develop the strength and courage to walk through the fire and ice of our own soul, without imagining that they are anything greater than any other step on our journey to becoming skillful, powerful human hearts.

Tougher, yes. But not greater.

I think that’s part of the practice, too. Letting it be tough. Letting it feel senseless. Letting the emotions wash right over us and even carry us away for a little while, if that’s the path we’re on. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Take care things don’t get too carried away, sure, but there is nothing to fear in letting ourselves feel anger, or sorrow, or fear. We have these emotions because we’re trying to tell ourselves something, or work through something. So by sitting with ourselves and letting these lessons flow through us, we can get where we’re headed and set the baggage aside once we’ve gotten all we need out of it.

I think I’ve talked myself out on this for the moment, so I’ll just share a bit from Alan Watts’ words from his Lecture on Zen:

Jon-Jo said ‘the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep.’ And another poem says of wild geese flying over a lake, ‘The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection, and the water has no mind to retain their image.’ In other words this is to be–to put it very strictly into our modern idiom–this is to live without hang-ups, the word ‘hang- up’ being an almost exact translation of the Japanese _bono_ and the Sanskrit _klesa_, ordinarily translated ‘worldly attachment,’ though that sounds a little bit–you know what I mean–it sounds pious, and in Zen, things that sound pious are said to stink of Zen, but to have no hang-ups, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water, seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a plane of energy, and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Fundamentally. You will be afraid on the surface. You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. You will be afraid of getting sick, etc. But you will not be afraid of fear. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror. But of course, the mirror isn’t quite the right illustration; space would be better. Like a black cloud flows through space without leaving any track. Like the stars don’t leave trails behind them.

– Alan Watts, in “Lecture on Zen”

Read Full Post »

I sat down with my tea to write a few words about people in our lives, and the memories we share with them, and how important it is we make connections with them from time to time. Then I got all mixed up in all the various emotions that arise on that topic — one of the main ones being guilt. When we move away from people in our lives (physically or emotionally), or even lose them entirely, there’s this guilt that we didn’t do more with what we had, when we had it. As though there was something missing there, and it was our fault for not bringing it. Or that there’s something missing now, and it’s our fault somehow for losing it, or the void’s so great that the pain is too much to fill… to really feel.

I realized that wasn’t where I wanted to go. And then I realized maybe that was the point I wanted to make. There’s never too many reminders to treasure and cherish the people you love, and to let them know they’re cherished and loved — but we know that bit. Maybe what I wanted to say is that we could do more to treasure and cherish the people we just happen to he around.

When the mortal beings we love aren’t around (I’m going to include pets too), there’s always mortal beings around us who need love. I think that by sharing some of that love we have just lying around waiting to be used can be put to good use there, by just smiling at someone you don’t know, maybe letting someone over in traffic or giving sympathy to a complaint at the checkout line. The void for people who are missing can be filled just a little bit by giving a bit of that empty space to the people who are there.

It’s like a little twist on the old song – “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey – love the one you’re with!”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: