Sitting with someone you love
I sat this morning with my son, who's 24. It was surprisingly distracting but revealing of how deeply attached I am to him.
The small question is: Do you sit with someone you love? What is it like?
A larger question: Is the love we have for friends and family compassion or attachment or, as it seems this beautiful Saturday morning, a dynamic mix?
I think sitting makes me, allows me to be, more compassionate in all relationships.
Thank you all for you notes here. It is good not to walk alone.
Re: Sitting with someone you love
Hi Rev. Don,
Originally Posted by Don Niederfrank
I would say that it is "attachment" if we make it psychologically into an attachment, and pure "love" if we allow it to be love. The act of being a good parent is "compassion", and nothing to be chased away. There is nothing wrong with sitting, and being present with, any human emotion ... love being one of the most human. (I do not mean to sound like a wall poster from the '60s, but): "When you feel love, just feel love." The only question is how we handle that emotion in our lives, and whether there is balance in our attitude toward it.
In my view (most Soto priests in Japan and the West are married and/or have partners), the Buddha certainly recommended - and seemingly insisted - that "home leavers" actually leave their home, family, etc., as a source of distraction and attachment. Now, as we teach forms of Buddhism to practitioners with homes and families (and have those homes and families ourselves), the emphasis is on "leaving home" as a state of mind, and "attachments" and strong emotions as an aid in our Practice. A wholesome "love" is not something to be pushed away, but is a key part of our comlpex human lives that we are embracing in our Practice.
If the Buddha taught something else, well, the Teachings have moved on and the Buddha is out of date on that point. (If you have a chance, Don, please have a listen to a little talk I gave on the subject of a changing Buddhism):
http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/06 ... wrong.html
This is especially true when it is the love of a father for a son, a very pure love. But, it is also the wholesome love of a man and woman. You should just "sit with the emotion", allowing the love and strong emotions to be, open and aware of the sensations, neither pushing them away nor actively encouraging them during Zazen. And in daily life, I believe that our practice for such things in our day-to-day lives is to allow these powerful emotions to be, to nurture them, but not have them spread into attachment, clinging, unhealthy need, unbalanced dependence. Our Zen practice should allow us to bring balance into the emotion ... and to know a pure love without attachment, clinging, imbalance, etc. I think.
It is a very powerful emotion, love ... so a very fine line to walk. You will know the line as you cross it.
I was thinking that, on next Valentine's day, I would do a special "couple's sitting," even experimenting with some skinship contact during Zazen. (We try a lot of experiments around here).
sitting with someone you love
I've never sat zazen with a lover. None of my partners were interested in sitting, but were open handed in giving me free range to sit when and where I wanted to. I've sat at a sangha where quite a few couldn't sit regularly on Sundays because it was their day to spend with their partner. (Perhaps had I spent Sundays at home with my honey, I'd still have one?)
I've been at a sesshin where I've sat next to someone I didn't particularly care for--it was interesting to feel that side of my body bristle in awareness--responding immediately to their every move.
While it was distracting it was also very interesting practice and I recommend it heartily--perhaps even more so that sitting with someone you love!
Even in that sesshin situation, after a while, I've found no matter where I am or who I'm with I sit alone and with all and everything--even when I sit by myself.
It's just the best, even when it's lousy.