Love The Zen Way
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Love The Zen Way
"If he comes
If he goes we do not pursue"
We all want
love. We are all searching for some lasting relationship. Yet it
always seems as if relationships are difficult, difficult to find,
to keep and to enjoy. Though many do all they can, problems, complications
and disappointment arise.
But from the
Zen point of view, struggling to find and keep love is the opposite
of what is needed. First we must learn 'do nothing'. We must learn
how to let go of control.
Zen practice after losing two important relationships. Devastated,
she was convinced she could never hold onto love.
She told the
Zen Master, "I can't bear losing even one more person."
"You will lose many," the Zen Master said.
"What can I do about it?" Rena shot back.
"Do nothing,: the Zen Master said.
This 'do nothing'
is active and vital, the very opposite of passivity. In order to
understand this, we must take a step back.
We are born
wanting to control our world and the people in it. We scream to
get food from mother, smile to receive the attention we crave and,
when our needs aren't met kick up a great fuss. As infants we feel
that others are here simply to care for us and keep us content.
This kind of attitude can be very hard to outgrow. In fact, it can
be said that 99% of our precious life energy goes into controlling
others so that our desires can be fulfilled.
What we call
love in relationships is often no more than having someone who makes
us feel good.
The Zen way
is the opposite. We do not try to use others, control events, or
demand that life fulfill our dreams. Instead, we grow aware of and
accepting of all that is given, and learn to take care of the world
we live in. As we do this, an odd thing happens, we become more
and more fulfilled. As we grow in compassion and simplicity, all
we truly need then comes naturally.
only real miracle is to stand still. -Henry Miller
the idea of 'doing nothing' has been greatly misunderstood. It does
not mean be passive. Just the opposite. Do nothing is the most challenging,
demanding, revolutionary instruction that can be given. It means,
when faced with life's challenges - let go of control.
In order to
learn how to do this in Zen meditation we are given this instruction
- "Don't Move." Usually we move (and react) all the time. When something
bothers us, we shift, change our position, do anything we can to
fix it. Although our behavior alters the condition for a little
while, it usually comes back again, sometimes more intensely, sometimes
in another form. Likewise, no matter what action we take in relationships,
often there is nothing that will cause the trouble to go away.
As we surrender
control over the condition, we allow things to be as they are. We
allow the entire world to play itself out in front of our eyes.
This profound action implies an immense respect for the intrinsic
nature of people and events, for a larger design in the universe,
which brings our good to us, and removes that which no longer belongs.
How often we
try to grasp and hold onto that which is no longer suitable, or
to desperately maneuver to obtain that which may be entirely wrong.
When we do not control, but rather appreciate what is happening,
(or who is coming our way) we are yielding to a higher wisdom, permitting
life to take its own course.
When we're in a difficult situation, most of our actions create
more upset and complications. These are not truly actions, but reactions.
True action is something different. It is clear, spontaneous, purposeful,
In order to
arrive at true action we must, first, do nothing. This means we
must stop doing what we used to do, cease our knee jerk reactions,
stop living like Sisyphus, rolling the same rock up the same mountain.
We must be able to bear the temporary discomfort of stopping our
As we do this,
many upsets dissolve naturally. We do not fan the flames. We do
not turn a summer rain into a violent thunderstorm, which can tear
an entire relationship apart.
When you are
faced with a difficult knot in a relationship, or when you are trying
to find someone new to love - don't squirm and wrestle, don't enter
into a struggle. "Do nothing" give up control. Stay centered and
immovable in the middle of the storm and see what the life is truly
bringing to you. Keep clear and compassionate. Let the situation
unfold as it will. Don't get picked up and whirled around like a
leaf in the wind.
Zen teaches us how to relax our grip. As this happens we begin to
see each person as they truly are, not as we wish or demand. We
also realize that it is not an act of love, to try to change and
control another. It is an act of love to discover and appreciate
who they truly are.
When we let
each moment, each person be exactly as they are this is the great
work of doing nothing. It is the work of non-interference with the
primal wisdom of the universe, which runs through all things and
beings, including ourselves.
When we step
back and allow this harmony to take over, our entire lives are healed
and enhanced. That which is right for us comes naturally, and difficult
situations find their own healing as well. When we honor and uphold
life as it is given, then inevitably, life honors and upholds us.
Shoshanna, Ph.D., psychologist,workshop leader and author is a long
term Zen practitioner whose work integrates Zen and everyday life.
This article is based upon her most recent book, Living By Zen (Timeless
Truths For Everyday Life) http://www.livingbyzen.com.
Take a minute to go to the site to find out more about the book.
Dr. Shoshanna, the relationship expert on i.village is also the
author of Zen And The Art of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster),
Zen Miracles, (Finding Peace In An Insane World) and many other
can be reached at email@example.com
Her personal website is http://www.brendashoshanna.com
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