Page 3 of 4
3. Living Down a Level
Once I had a conversation with a woman who had been a driver for Trungpa Rinpoche. I said, “Did you ask him questions?”
She replied, “Not much, I was shy.”
“Did he speak to you?”
“What did he say?”
He would pat my shoulder and say, “Enjoy yourself.”
have always done things for clear reasons and suddenly you find
yourself doing things that are not comprehensible to you. You are drawn
toward or away from things in ways that completely ignore your to-do and
not-to-do lists, and the new direction seems both right and
aspects of living are best when they happen easily and involuntarily,
such as dancing, where thinking about it gets in the way and causes you
to tread on your partner’s shoes. The involuntary is a gift—outside of
the things we intend and manufacture. When things come into being
involuntarily, everything shakes; the universe appears, expanding
rapidly, poems arrive out of nowhere, coincidences occur, and the mind
is rearranged. In love you do things that don’t make rational sense.
Like enlightenment, love teaches you how to live down a level, to follow
instructions that come from deep inside.
is an example: A friend fell in love while sending a package at Pak
Mail. His eyes locked with hers and the glance was naked and unintended.
They unhooked their eyes from each other and pottered around copying
and filling out forms but, like iron filings drawn to magnets, they
found themselves in line for the register together. She gave an eloquent
shrug; they both minded being in line and didn’t mind. They noticed
their shared response. Then she drove away in her SUV and disappeared
from his life like a coin that falls into the harbor.
couple of days later they bumped into each other and after that she
left her complicated and difficult husband and, full of delight, they
we don’t trust how things appear. In love at first sight, though,
things come up from the depths and there is no arguing with them. The
creature in the black lagoon turns out to be your friend and knows more
about what will make you happy than you do. Falling in love with someone
we don’t really know unifies the surfaces of things with the depth of
things, and that is exciting.
4. Something Disturbing
with any practice, with love it is possible to try too hard. At
Stanford, a man fell in love with a woman who was Northern Californian
nobility. She had an English accent and lived in a castle in the hills
with a swimming pool made of stone. He was a lowly grad student from the
Midwest. She said, “I don’t think so. I just don’t feel that way about
you.” He said, “I’ll win you over.” He mounted a total assault with
boxes of chocolates and deliveries of flowers. He played guitar in the
moonlight under her window. This was a happy time; he enjoyed difficult
as in a fairy tale, she said, “Okay, I’ll marry you.” So they got
married and had a couple of kids and then, as you might have predicted,
she left and he went crazy for a while. Love is a whole thing—the
wooing, the doubts, the attempt to overcome the doubts, the breakup, the
going crazy. You don’t get only the nice bits and you don’t actually
want to get only the nice bits.
are intrinsic to love and enlightenment; without obstacles the
transformation inside the lover can’t find its form or come into being.
The important thing is not the outcome of the relationship. It is the
taste of your life, strong and rich, and how that becomes part of you.
When I was a teenager I walked into a party with people from a different
world than mine. A slightly older guy was sitting outside on the hood
of his Jag, weeping. He had black curly hair like a figure in a
Renaissance painting. Inside, his girl emerged from one of the bedrooms
with a TV producer, a man who seemed varnished and unhappy. Muted sounds
had indicated that sex was going on. The man sitting outside was just
weeping; he wasn’t reaching for the sort of things people reach for at
such times, things that don’t help anyway. This was a surprise to me. It
expanded the range of what responses I could have. I talked a bit to
him and liked him. I could see how love encompassed a totality, how you
can’t protect yourself from it when it goes bad. And it was strangely
appealing to be able to live a life where you feel things and don’t
bother to hide it.