I just re-read this post, and writing it helped me realize a lot of what I am feeling. I'm still pretty shaken so I am sorry if it is difficult to read, but felt I needed to share something, anything related to this weekend. Me, my husband, and my close friends could use some metta sent our way. I wrote a few posts about this weekend, then deleted them before posting, so I know this is vague but we all have been put in a blender and shaken. Gassho, Dani

I had a very comforting train of thought after Zazen a few days ago. I had a pretty traumatic weekend, got hit from every side, and it made me think a lot about expectations and projecting ideas, concepts (like morals) and such onto other people, animals, and ones own "self."

I realized that a huge part of my personal identity problems over the last few years stemmed from the pressure that I alone was placing on myself. I felt I had to live up to this image of who I was becoming when I was 18- I was kind then still, not a hell-raiser, but I was wild and unafraid of everything in life and able to face tough situations and push them aside and never let them get to my core and get me down. Well, this weekend I was shaken to my core, from my relationship to my husband (which is good still) to my pets to my job to my friends to internal reflections... and I realized, I need to just accept myself, accept who I am, not feel bad that I feel bad about a situation that happened.. not feel bad that I am softer about things like death now. Not feel bad that I am not a world-class horse trainer and that I needed to ask for help. There are paths that we pass up and situations that sometimes put us back to where we made our decisions and ask us to question them. That is okay too. I need to accept who I've become, who I am in this moment, and be as kind and gentle with myself as I try to be with others. I had an inkling of this in a zazen session earlier in the week, I suddenly felt really gentle with myself, but I didn't fully take it to heart until the end of the weekend. This is in sharp contrast to Sunday's zazen (I think it was Sunday.) When I sat then, I felt like my core was shaking, I could not find my center and relax into just sitting. When my meditation timer went off I stood and felt as if I was literally going to fall into a thousand pieces.

Anyways, this all led me to the self/no self train of thought. Where do we draw the line between "mine" and "yours,' "you" and "they" and "me." Whenever I look close and try to explore the line, I find that it has further expanded. This weekend was so traumatic because I drew my line of self around my dog, my husband, my good friend, and a little goat that passed away rather violently. I felt everyone's pain as if it was funneled straight into my chest and then amplified by my own emotion. I almost couldn't handle it. In a strange way, I felt like once that vortex was opened it drew others to me from new situations to release their emotions- co-workers called and passed on anger and confusion, other people called and passed on fear, almost like a magnet. Lastly the intense depression feelings came when I re-drew my line of self securely around my core when I reflected on the situation and did not look at the larger picture. I had realized earlier that we were all my "self" but it didn't stick; as a self-protection mechanism my mind retracted my line of self like a scared, scared little girl and made the situation in my heart worse.

I saw this clearly when I thought about how my lines expanded and contracted. To me it is one of the marks of a Bodhisattva to have the line permanently drawn around all sentient beings, feeling their pain as if it is their own (because it is) and feeling as much love for them as if they are their selves (they are.) I feel like I perhaps got a taste of that this weekend, and realized that the Bodhisattva ideal is not always happy. I feel like it is presented as happy- look at this savior, this person who takes on others suffering and turns it into happiness! Who just cares, and cares so much! I think the reality is that true Bodhisattvas have an immense capacity to carry pain, a capacity far beyond what I almost could not carry this weekend, and that was very sobering. I don't think I will ever look at a Bodhisattva the same way again, no matter the form- Kuan Yin, Kannon, Avalokitesvara. They are wonderful, happy, able to bear pain but I think the reality is they bear intense, unending pain in their hearts, wear smiles on their faces, and always realize an unlimited line of self.

Today, I feel like I'm accepting myself without judgment and accepting that all others are my self. Don't know how sustainable this is, but in this moment, I am accepting. It is all fine- when someone calls me to vent negative emotions, when our close group gets hit with situations, when I act according to my own current nature, it is fine.