Sunday, June 30, 2013

Not Zen 65: Passage

A woman lost her infant to fever. Her mother had died not long before. The prospect of raising the daughter had sustained her through the loss of her mother. But there was nothing to sustain her through the loss of her child. The second death, so soon after the first, put her into depression.

The woman found it grew harder over the weeks for her to function normally. She performed her family duties without energy. She stopped cleaning. Her neighbors and friends criticized her behavior but she couldn't make herself care. She wasn't able to confide with her husband about her troubles because she felt she had failed him just as she'd failed her dead mother.

She considered suicide. Her husband was a good man, she thought, and could find another wife.

Before she took action, she went to her friend, a roshi who had studied meditation for many years. Her friend listened to her troubles with sympathy.

"I don't know how to deal with this loss," the young woman concluded. "You have studied detachment. Maybe you can help me."

"You cannot solve this problem by detaching yourself from it," answered the roshi.

"What? That's the opposite of what you should say. Even I know Buddhism better than that."

"Maybe you should tell me how it goes."

"You're supposed to say that my worldly desires will bring me sorrow."

"Oh, they will. They have."

"And that I should learn to let go of my worldly desires."

"You're correct."

"Then that's the way I should rid myself of this pain."

"No. You cannot deny the loss of your loved ones. You cannot deny what you feel. To attempt that is contrary to the Way. Never deny your expectations, hopes, or loves."

"But they bring me great sorrow!"

"You cannot avoid sorrow. You must live through it. And eventually you may move past it."

"That will take too long!  It could take my whole life."

The roshi nodded.  She insisted, "Nevertheless."

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