Many thanks to the many people who wrote here and privately to ask about my wife. Her surgery went well. It was never life threatening, although there were some serious risks. Fortunately, it looks like she is on the mend, and we hope to have her home in about three weeks if all continues like this.
Today's Zazen 'sit-a-long' was recorded while she was still in the operating room. During the operation, my mind would sometimes turn to "what if's," worst case scenarios, thoughts of what life might be like without her or if the doctor's "could happens" came true ... and I felt worry. Some people might think that long time Zen folks are supposed to be beyond all fears and worry. But I do not think that is true for most that I know, and in fact, I do not think it would be a good thing even if so.
Rather, I find that Zen Practice offers ways to be totally free from fear and worry even amidhealthy fear and worry ... both ways of experiencing life experienced as one.
(Click through to watch today's talk, and to "sit-a-long.")
Some presentations of Buddhism seem to emphasize a state of total escape from fear and the like, as well as from many other sometimes negative human emotions. I have never been much attracted to that personally, although it may be a fine path for some. I honor and respect my fears, consider them a vital part of me, although I do not wish to be their prisoner, letting them run amuck with me, all to excess. Fortunately, in my belief, Mahayana Buddhism and the Zen schoolsfound ways to have human emotions AND BE FREE OF THEM TOO ... ALL AT ONCE. Instead of an either/or proposition of either having certain potentially harmful human emotions or not having them, perspectives were mastered whereby human emotions might be kept in healthy balance, in their proper place AND completely escaped, seen through and dropped away -at once. In other words, the 'self' remains while the 'self' is fully gone, and both are known as one. The worry or similar emotion is present, balanced yet FULLY ESCAPED in one fell swoop.
Thus one can sit in a hospital room or other place of worry ... fearful, yet totally free of fear without the least division, as if bouncing back and forth between perspectives, sometimes seeing both as a whole ... as if covering the right eye to see life one way, then the left eye to see it another, then opening both eyes at once. It is, I believe, a good and healthy way to live.
We discover that there is nothing to fear from the start ... including nothing to fear about a little fear.