Zen and love

June 29, 2011

For the second time recently I just found myself talking to a friend about "love", and the relationship of love to Zen.

There's a story about Zen and love where it is said that "normal" love is like holding a coin in your hand, where you place the coin in your hand, and then close your fingers and wrap them around the coin to hold onto it. In Zen you also have a coin and your hand, but you simply hold the coin in the palm of your open hand.

(I'm sorry I don't remember who first said that or wrote it.)

A second example of love is the last episode of the tv series Life. I don't want to say anything about that episode, other than it is a tremendous example of Zen love.

(If you've never watched that tv series, it only lasted two seasons -- thirty-two episodes -- but if you are interested in Zen it is a good investment of time. It's not all about Zen, but IMHO the first episode is nearly perfect.)

My own words

As a Zen student, it's easy to get caught up in simply retelling old Zen stories to explain things, so I'd like to take a few moments to discuss Zen and love in my own words.

First, I loved my dog Zeus very, very much, and when he passed away last summer, I cried for days, and was sad for weeks. Shoot, I'm still sad that he's gone. Leaving him last year was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

In the case of death, a Zen Master may not cry with someone's death because he knows that what we call "human life" is just a short temporal state in a much, much larger and longer "life". (Though there are stories of Zen Master's crying at someone's death, though those stories are used as Koans.) Further, not only does a Zen Master know this intellectually, I suspect that he also knows it experientially.

Second, last week as I was driving down the road, a little bug kept flying around the inside of the car, driving me crazy. When it finally stopped I went to kill it, and just as I went to smack it, I could literally hear the bug scream, "Wait, it's me Zeus, don't kill me!"

Was the bug really Zeus? No, I don't think Zeus would have any reason to be re-born as a bug. If there is rebirth, then I'll guess Zeus is now a human, or maybe a god of some sort. I think it was just my own manifestation of "love for all beings" that rose up at that moment and said, "Killing is wrong."

When you meditate you naturally feel love. Love for all beings, love for the Earth, and love for the miracle of life itself.

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