Blog entry

Keep Trying

Song Of The Day: Time / Alan Parsons Project
Word Of The Day: Earnful / Full of longing desire; sorrowful. Full of anxiety.

Well gang, part of me wants to apologize for the raw and personal nature of my blog the other day on the trials of marriage and fatherhood, but I think apologizing would be silly. I really don't see the point in blogging if I'm just going to present the side of me that's pleasant, charming, and safe. There's no nutrients in that soil. It's true I don't want this blog to just be some screed where I dump the very personal contents of my life into your lap, and leave you feeling like someone just hurled in your lap. That's indulgent. But I feel the fatherhood / marriage thing is something that's just tough, and something that innumerable people struggle with. I also think it's really important for it to be something that's fair game for practitioners to talk about. I am very lucky to have a teacher who deals with this stuff in an inventive, constructive way, and to have a dharma brother who know of what I scream (thanks buddy!), and on top of it all, my wife is incredibly skilled in knowing how to navigate the rough waters. She knows when to engage, push me, demand I show up and follow through, but then if and when I really hit a place where my rivets are popping out and the craft is disintegrating, she becomes spacious, loving, forgiving, and runs right to my side. It's very trippy. After I wrote that blog the other day, I stormed in the house and was like "AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" and she could just tell, she just knew it was truly blinded by white noise in that moment, and she transformed right into Love. In those moments she doesn't try to console me, or fix it, or tell me "I told you so" she just watches with Love and gives me room, doesn't judge.

It's a very fascinating kind of moment to me. Because human beings are equipped from birth with incredibly sensitive bullshit detectors. I, and most of the people I hang with, can just TELL, you just know when someone is showing up for with love, with empty presence, and they don't have an agenda, and they're not judging you, they're just there with you and they love you. On the other hand, we can also tell immediately when someone is not, it's so obvious when someone is standing there going "you're such a fucking freak, look at you freaking out" even though there is nothing actually spoken in either of these cases, even though it's 100% body language and presence, nothing could be more evident and plain. And it's such a lesson in Love. My wife's response to my freak out the other day allowed me to move through it ten times faster. It's like she's an Aikido Master in those really intense moments, and I come barrelling into the house like a raging bull, and she just touches the back of my neck, and I tumble, hit the floor, all without hurting myself or anyone else. I'm flat on my back and she's like "see? it's ok." and we start laughing. Don't get me wrong, we have plenty of heated moments, we have arguments, spats, and such, but she's always got a wild card behind her back. Once this week when we were sitting at the dinner table and I was totally brooding and moping, she was like... "honey?" and I look up from my plate with a pathetic face, and she literally spit a big mouthful of pees all over my face "PFFFFEWWWW!!" and it was hilarous. My daughter was laughing, my wife was laughing, and I couldn't help it, it was hilarious, and it was a very loving way to say "stop being such a self-engrossed turd."

When I told her that I had wrote a blog the other day about how hard it is sometimes and how I don't think I do very well, she said that she wanted to write a correction to that blog, cuz I'm awesome. It's just hard. I believe her. I do think we both do a great job, and we try as hard as we can, and it's still really hard sometimes. Even being in love, even with a great kid, wonderful home and career, it's a bitch. And I don't know what I'm doing much of the time, and I get really hard on myself. From the age of 18 to 30 I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with whoever I wanted however I wanted and you know, that turns into Karma. Acquired tendencies, a morphogenetic groove laid down by the patterns of behaviour, choices, and energy. That's all Karma is. But burning Karma can really be a motherfucker, generating new Karma can really a hot molten enima from time to time. Sometimes it's bliss, but it also has a foot with your nut sack's name written all over it. My heart of hearts is actually pure -everyone's is. I know that my motives are true, that I am indeed committed to living for Love in the World, not just from a distance, but in the trenches. But I also have to be realistic about just how messy that is, and not pretend it's easier or prettier than it is.

Last week while I was on tour, I was struggling with lust. This is not a secret. I am totally honest with my wife when I experience lust for other women, and it's not like she enjoys hearing about it, but I don't want a secret life, so I tell her and we talk about it. Well, on this last tour for some reason, it was really fucking with me. It seemed to get worse every day, and finally the white noise in my head was making me feel like a caged dog. It was like riding around with an adolescent boy hopped up on a Viagra / Cocaine combo, constant boner, constant chatter. Driving one night, I was like "this is fucking stupid. i'm blacking out. this is the reason i got a teacher, why don't i call my teacher?" well, the truth was, i was embarrassed. part of me wanted Roshi to think of me as better than that, more evolved, cuz like i've been sitting for ten years, blah blah blah. total bullshit, and i realized if it don't get real with this shit, i'm not going to have a real relationship with Roshi, and he won't be able to really help me, and i won't be able to be of real use in the World. so, dreading it and feeling like a heel, i called him at like 9:30pm and left a message. like he ALWAYS does, he called me back in less than five minutes. this always blows my mind. it really makes me reconsider my integrity in regards to the phone, but that's another blog. anyway, he calls me back and he's like "what's up?" and i'm like... "uh... well, i'm having...a thing with lust." and he's like "yeah." and then i go into a ten minute monologue of ALL of it. i just throw up into the phone, and every sentence that comes out is like i'm releasing toxins from my soul. it also gets easier to say it with each passing minute, to really be totally honest, cuz i can tell even though we're just on the phone -i can tell he's not judging me one bit. he's just like "yep. yep." and at the end of my session of releasing and confessing it all, he's like "four things." first, he tells me i should THANK those voices of lust for speaking to me. he says i should acknowledge them, let them know i hear them, and then move on. don't fight them, avoid them, shame them, just say "thank you for sharing" and then move on. second, he tells me i'm 34, and 34 year old men experience lust, it's a fact of life. my condition is not unique. third, he says never underestimate the danger of my own deluded mind. he says it's incredibly important to take seriously the risk that such impulses and feelings could pose to my life, my work, and especially my wife and daughter. do i want to hurt my family? do i want to injure and damage the lives of those that are closest to me for the reward of gratifying this delusion? no, of course not. so i have to really regard these feelings in a way that acknowledges their danger and risk. don't ever put myself in risky situations with women, don't underestimate the hidden motive in some of my exchanges or actions. am i flirting with women and exchanging sexual energy after the show? no? am i sure? fourth, he says it would be useful for me to call forth these voices and let them speak later, in another context, where they are INVITED to speak. he suggests that i do this with my wife, where we come together, make a safe space to do it in, and then ask these voices to speak. this is honest, transparent, it is helpful because we are inviting and including them, but it's set within the relationship in a way that can strengthen our bond and unity. it will also help my wife feel safer, included, and increase trust.

now personally, i think this is brilliant. i know it's basic stuff, but it's also revolutionary. how many Zen teachers in the history of our tradition would ever have suggested such a strategy? most of them would undoubtedly have said "get back to your breath" or some such. i do believe that in the dharma coming to the west, we are seeing psychology and mysticism woven into each other in a way that strengthens the fabric significantly. psychology is a uniquely western offering to the traditions, and perhaps more than anyone Genpo Roshi has utilized and included it in a way that can really increase the health and viability of the lineage, and the flowering of love in the world. I really feel him discovering a way of teaching that is right for THIS culture, at THIS point in history, it is American Zen. Maezumi told him he would have to discover this for himself, that he would have to find the way that is right for the West, for Western students. You can't just import Japanese Zen to America and transplant it. We're not Japanese. What is Zen? I don't know, but it's not duplicating and replicating what has worked somewhere else, for some other people in another time in history. I believe it's crucial that psychology is being included as the Dharma finds its roots here in the West. I believe there are many, many authentic paths to awakening, and many true paths available to us right now, all over the World. I know that for me, this lineage (White Plumb), this teacher (Genpo Roshi), and my very dear family and friends is the right way for me. I think it's an unbelievably curious, surprising time to be a practitioner, here in the West, in Zen, in Integral, in the middle of a family living in the World! I'm really glad that I can stumble, struggle, and screw up, and still be loved and supported to keep trying.

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