The other night I stood outside the zendo, ready to gesture arrivals towards places to park along the street. At one point I stepped into path of an oncoming vehicle, assuming that I knew the driver. Later she explained by email, “I was all set to come to meditation … but felt so teary that I didn’t make it. I got as far as driving to your house and almost ran you over on the street – sorry. I felt too distressed to come in.”
I remember many a sesshin (weeklong Zen retreat) when I sat sobbing on my cushion. The rule at my first training monastery was “don’t sniffle. no blowing noses. let it flow!” Sitting still alongside others, allowing the body to calm and thoughts and emotions come and go, often brought me to tears. A thousand sadness from deep within, with no one coming to make it all better. Then a bell and another round of … bowing … chanting … sitting … shovelling snow …
When I first opened my house for others to meditate (about eight years ago, then on Galiano Island), I once complained to my teacher that people would come once or twice, then vanish. Is there anything I should do (differently) I asked? “Just be there as advertised,” he replied, “unlock the door, straighten the cushions, light incense, and sit. People will come when they need to — when their suffering takes them there.”
And so I’ve been sitting ever since. May all beings be free from tears and pain.