I’m venturing into an intimate relationship: first with caution, then courage, I’m opening my/self to being loved –allowing body-heart-mind (shin in Japanese*) to be touched: withholding nothing. Immersed in bliss, I’m tasting absolute presence, without a single thought of past or future, fully immersed in sensory and spiritual mindfulness. Not even during week-long retreats with their long hours of meditating, chanting, and working, have I experienced such intense alertness. Only chaplaincy work — sitting at hospice patients’ bedside, attending to the emotional needs of their loved-ones and coworker — has given me a similar taste.
The Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard says that while life must be lived forward, it can only be understood backwards. Looking back on my last ten years shows a direct line, even if at the time it’s been obscured by upheaval and disarray: → Zen training → three years of self-imposed celibacy → tumultuous affaire d’amour → first taste of spiritual sexuality → extended grief → gradual recovery and healing → end-of-life and spiritual care work → more celibacy → now this → beyond that: not-knowing.
True, I may appear
unkempt like a rotten tree,
jetsam or flotsam,
but on the right occasion
this old heart can still blossom.
By the monk Kengei (ca. 875).
*my given name is Daishin, boundless heart; source: Hamill, S. & Seaton, J.P. (2007). The poetry of Zen. Boston: Shambhala, p. 100. image: http://japanglimpsed.blogspot.com