Well yes, all relationships do end if you look at the matter from a ‘nothing is separate from anything else’ perspective. However the fact of and the living through the end of a relationship, be it through death or incompatibility or all the reasons people end relationships, the non dual seeing doesn’t take the pain away. Even though I find Rilke hard to follow I get what he is saying. And I think most of us can wish for a split that has some life and goodwill left after the explosion of separation. I remember the pain as more like an internal explosion which lasts some time. Disturbing.
Rilke on how to break up with integrity and preserve friendship after romance.
As soon as two people have resolved to give up their togetherness, the resulting pain with its heaviness or particularity is already so completely part of the life of each individual that the other has to sternly deny himself to become sentimental and feel pity. The beginning of the agreed-upon separation is marked precisely by this pain, and its first challenge will be that this pain already belongs separately to each of the two individuals. This pain is an essential condition of what the now solitary and most lonely individual will have to create in the future out of his reclaimed life.
He considers the measure of a “good breakup” — a separation that, however painful in its immediate loss, is a long-term gain for both partners, individually and together:
If two people managed not to get stuck in hatred during their honest struggles with each other, that is, in the edges of their passion that became ragged and sharp when it cooled and set, if they could stay fluid, active, flexible, and changeable in all of their interactions and relations, and, in a word, if a mutually human and friendly consideration remained available to them, then their decision to separate cannot easily conjure disaster and terror.
Is it easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’? That which calls one back to sit still when it makes no sense. Sometimes the longing to ‘touch base’ gets side tracked by matters that seem more important. Even the side tracks, perhaps especially the so called side tracks lead one back to….the important thing.
Not easy, yet rather simple, to touch that which calls us back. To return, not having left! A nudge, a whisper, a sight, a sound, a touch. The wind in the trees, the stars in an inky blue-black sky, a view of distant beloved fells. Somebody said on a call this evening, ‘it’s those times when I’m suffering the most that bring me back to the deepest place’. What ever it takes I’d say.
It is easy to lose sight of the ‘important thing’. Because and this is the rub? There is no separate ‘thing’ to lose sight of! (sorry to talk in riddles.) And still as Great Master Dogen says in Rules for Meditation ‘pure Zazen must be done’. I could go on and on however I’ll refrain. And as it happens refraining/ceasing is central to the matter.
That’s another story.
This post is for Will Pegg recently deceased, and for his dear wife Lou and innumerable friends.
Below is the first post I wrote for Jade Mountains when I was in Idaho, during the summer of 2003. It is dedicated to my parents. In particular my mother. She lived to be 86 years old. What a trouper! During her last few years she had to deal with declining health. Though you wouldn’t know it. She was from a generation that ‘got on with it’, she didn’t winge or seek sympathy or consolation. Early in life I thought her to be overly forbearing, now I’m thinking she was on to something.
Here it is, the first post.
I used an ex US Army entrenching tool this morning. It was good to do some physical work for a change since I, of necessity, spend a large part of my day using a computer. The task at hand was to break up and clear away a ridge of gravel and earth on the side of the road created by a snow plough in the spring. The ridge was in the way of getting a good wide swing around into the drive, so I ‘had at it’ with the entrenching tool. The ridge was baked solid by the Idaho summer heat. The sharp end worked well to
break up the concrete-like obstacle. The spade was good for breaking down the remaining lumps and moving the dirt to make a smooth surface to drive over. Half an hour later and the obstacle on the road had been dealt with. An obstacle, a simple tool, applied effort, obstacle smoothed out, road cleared.
I’ve been pondering the first entry for this web site. In fact I have been pondering the whole question of persevering with a web site. It has, at times, seemed a daunting project especially for one with no previous experience in this field. This morning, while I was breathing in dust on the side of the road, one potential purposes for the site came to me. It was to do with roads and obstacles and ‘taking the next step’. The other part was ‘insights’, those thoughts that pop into consciousness to inspire, teach and encourage. They come, are learned from and then forgotten, however some times they are worth repeating.
Some years ago my mother asked me to choose some books from the mobile library since she and my father would be away shopping when the van turned up at the gate (this is a system in rural England where the library comes to you). “What kind of books do you like” I asked her. Stories about people overcoming great difficulties – biographies, she replied. I related this book choice to a fellow monk who, it would appear, knew my mother better than I did. She likes them because she has to overcome great difficulties herself! In my eyes she had been a tower of strength through out her life. It hadn’t consciously occurred to me she had grown strong through working hard and enduring tough life circumstances. My mother was an avid reader; she read for personal inspiration and did so to a ripe old age.
So, these pages are here, hopefully, for spiritual inspiration; inspiration to keep traveling the road and overcome difficulties. They also provide information and insights; information about the practice of the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition (Soto Zen) and insights into how that practice unfolds in daily life.
May the spiritual merit accrued creating and writing for this site be offered in eternal gratitude to my parents, Dorothy and Tony White, and to all beings.