The Best Laid Plans of Boobs and Buddhists:
Once upon a time during a sesshin or intensive Zen retreat, I accidentally brushed lightly up against the breast of an attractive woman during kinhin, or walking meditation. That one small touch worked as surely as a shiny spark plug and I returned to the meditation cushion sporting an explosive sex fantasy and a first-class hard-on. Thank goodness for the billowing cloth of meditation robes.
The woman I brushed up against had excited my mild-fantasy attention in the past, but that small touch in those circumstances broke the dam and flood waters consumed me. No pun intended, but … Jesus Fucking Christ! For the better part of a forty-minute period of zazen, I just did sex … mind sex, phone sex, Kama Sutra sex, giddy sex, lustful and lusty sex, sneaky sex, honest sex, sex beneath the moon, sex beneath the sun, sex with jiggly implements, loving sex … sex, sex, sex, sex, sex … it went on and on and on and on until…
Towards the end of the sitting, I realized I was repeating myself. I just couldn’t think of another permutation or speed or satisfaction or delight. I had run out of imaginative gas. I had run out of options. I had run out of what I imagined was endless. At first, this recognition shocked and dismayed me. Sex, after all, was an emotional, life-force biggie. It was important. It was a gimme of the first magnitude. My dismay made me try even harder to resurrect and reconstitute my fantasy life, but the harder I tried, the more it underscored my inability to come up with fresh fodder.
The simple honesty of this post was refreshing. Many in the Zen and Buddhist community almost want to ignore feelings or pretend that they don’t feel. Whether the emotions are angry, sexual or jealous in nature, we do feel them and what is more – We accept them. It seems so simple to allow thoughts to pass from the mind while we are sitting but the simple truth is that it is difficult. Thoughts are tenacious and clingy and thrive on conflict. Sometimes they may just need to play themselves out.
When a wave comes in towards us we can do a few things – We can let it take us to the shore and crash down on us, we swim away and avoid it or we can bob. Buddhists strive to bob. We can’t control the wave of thoughts that hit us but we can keep them from breaking us on the rocks. Learning to bob and stay bouant in an ocean of thoughts is, perhaps, one of the most important lessons we can learn in our practice.
The zafu isn’t a place where we fall away from the world, sinking into our own sphere of oblivion. We aren’t “marshmallows on pillows”. It is a place that we ride those emotions and thoughts that come to us on a daily basis in a contained environment and on our terms. I’ve found, in my experience, that many of those emotions that I want to avoid come out in waves while sitting – almost as if to rouse me into action – FIGHT, FUCK, FLEE – All very primal and all never basic. I ackowledge those emotions, wave “hi” and let them pass. Or, rather, I let myself pass through them.
So thank you for that thought provoking and blunt post, Genkaku. It was much appreciated and well-recieved.