> jumping into life.

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What I Learned in the Zen Monastery

Sex is not power. Except
that it can be. If you want it,
if you take it. Sex is powerful,
no denying that. I learned
how it had been a weapon, a thing to wield,
how I had wielded it, what damage I had done. I learned that
I did not know what to do with my hands
when I set that weapon down.

I learned to walk without the weight it,
to meet new people without the shield of it.
Learned new reflexes that did not reach for it.

(It is only later
that I am learning that perhaps not all power
corrupts. That perhaps there is a place
for swinging my hips.)

Mindfulness is no-such-thing.
Even after two hours a day - even
after sixteen hours a day of zazen,
even after I had touched my true heart and the open center of oneness,
had constructed and deconstructed the ten thousand dreams of self,
wept for a full week,
walked for a whole day alone,
sat once for an hour without moving a hair,

I still forgot my water-bottle every time I set it down.

Love is power. Not power-over,
not power-from. Not even power-to.
Power like sunlight is power,
like truth is. Love is not what we think it is.
Love is hard, like a cocoon is hard,
like truth is, but harder. Because love is truth,
and more than truth, for truth at least
has a beginning and an end.
Love, once loosed from the cage
we strive so hard to keep it in
(For to what end do we fill our lives
with comfort and distraction,
but that of keeping love at bay?)
- once loose, well.

Just look what happened to Siddhartha:
poisoned on his own goodwill.
Power like that can't help but destroy.
(The caterpillar does not grow wings.)
Power like that, it can't be controlled.
(The caterpillar dies, don't you see?
All that which is caterpillar, dies.)
Once loose, power like that, power like love,
it isn't what you think. You can't turn it off.
No picking and choosing,
remember? It doesn't matter
if the coffee is sewage or saintly. Don't you see?
If your life is blessed or bothersome.
You have to love it just the same.

I didn't learn how to love, not really.
I still have an appetite for leaves.

Namaste to you and may we all loose our appetite. Do I love you? Or do i love the idea of you. O how I dream about letting the caterpillar die. For my dreams are nightmares to my ego and thus the idea of flying scares me. Yet it also intrigues me, engulfs me in curiosity, and makes my mind hurt. Is it not obvious that my mind wishes not to fly, wishes to keep me eating the leaves and to continue as i am? O, do i wish for the courage to take flight. Is it possible to do so and still hold on to those I think i love, to only partially die, to only give up and leave behind some things? If you asked a caterpillar he would have no reply, yet if you asked the butterfly, well if a butterfly could wink, i think it might.

Hi Anonymous - good questions you raise. I have often wondered whether what is required is giving up or taking in. By which I mean, of course you love the idea of me, the idea of your parents, the idea of yourself. But rejecting those things because they are not real isn't necessarily different than continuing as you are. The love is real. I'm sure of that. And perhaps the key is less in renouncing than in accepting. Accepting that the love is real even if you don't know the true nature of that which you love.

You can kill the caterpillar, but I think if you don't have the cocoon of love around you, all you get is a dead caterpillar.

Thanks, Kat.

This is beautiful, and struck just the right chord with me today. Thank you for posting this.

Wow. This is lovely, Kat. I love especially the first stanzas about learning to lay down sex.

And what a delightful surprise to find my coffee filter figuring in it!

I don't know, I can never make love and dharma quite line up.

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