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5. A Tolerance for Disaster
Question: But what if it’s a disaster?
Teacher: That’s it too.
is not an equanimity practice; it doesn’t filter your responses or fit
them to a preset level. Meditation and love can both result in
equanimity but it’s not a goal, since a goal makes you refuse other
possibilities that appear. Love makes you less happy with day-to-day
grayness and more resilient with the actual reverses of life, such as an
notice what gives you pain, what hardens your heart—how when you
dislike someone or hold a grudge, or embark on a crusade, or are jealous
and principled, you make yourself and others around you unhappy.
Noticing is a practice of love. You don’t have to exclude, extinguish,
or dislike anything that the mind presents. Life becomes an adventure.
You take the ride.
6. It Happened on a Friday Morning at 11:07
is rooted in forms and textures. It is anchored in the real world of
people—yellow dresses, cafes in Chelsea, and a fast car turning end over
end on a summer night in a corn field, its headlights pointing to the
sky, the field, the sky, the field.
talked to several women who had epiphanies during childbirth. They
remember that moment of pain turning outwards into something vast and
joyful. You remember your first kiss or when you met the one you love.
You remember where you were, what the weather was like, what you were
wearing, who else was with you, and what song was playing. Such a memory
is one of the compass points of life. It doesn’t mean that the love was
smart or worked out or you understood what it meant, but it means that
you surrendered. You risked the taste of life, and that changed things.
is not good for purposes other than its own expression. It can’t be
used for advantage, it is not practical, it is not approved of, it is
unpredictable, it is for itself, it is only for your benefit. Its gifts
are given without conditions. As we make the meditation tradition our
own, we are building a culture. For this we need to learn what is
important to us. And love in all its forms—romance and friendship, its
loyalties and betrayals, its jealousies and generosities, is one of the
deepest things in life, and also one of the most essential.
7. Practices of Love
we didn’t try to tame or banish the unruliness of love, I wonder what
our practices would be like? I think they would plunge us into what is
real in our feelings.
lovers discover themselves through the mirror of the other and often
tell each other their romantic history. In this spirit you could tell a
friend the story of a love affair that asks to be told. It could be a
bit like the Asian custom of making offerings to the dead. And you could
find what was good about the love affair no matter how it ended. You
might soften and discover something new about your own story.
is another practice, rooted in Zen tradition, which you might enjoy.
Sit down with someone you care about and have a cup of tea. The practice
is just sitting and having tea and conversation for its own sake. Drink
the tea together without an agenda, without wanting anything from the
other person or trying to change them. That means not wanting them to
think or feel differently from the way they do, without wanting them to
appreciate you, or needing them to understand how you feel about them.
Tarrant, Roshi, directs the Pacific Zen Institute, has a Ph.D. in
psychology, and after teaching Zen in a traditional way for twenty
years, developed a new way of teaching koans that opens them to people
with no experience of meditation. He is the author of Bring Me The Rhinoceros & Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life.