Today, a situation came up, that triggered me to recall an extremely valuable teaching that Genjo Marinello Roshi gave years ago. It could warrant sharing, as it was so influential to me.
In a particular Zen talk, Roshi was discussing "Cocoons of protection," which we can wrap and place around ourselves. This can happen, as a result of having difficult and painful personal histories. This can be especially true when there's an opportunity to easily repeat unhealthy behaviors by caregivers, or those in trust, within our family, educational, or social systems.
Our goal is to insulate and protect ourselves from harm, reduce pain, and if lucky not get hit in the same spots that influenced or caused the original suffering. This is oftentimes not as an idle whim, but as a necessity, trying to survive our circumstances. He mentioned that despite the amount of time and energy, we've invested in those walls of protection, it can occur to us at some point that we've placed ourselves, unintentionally in a kind of prison. As it turns out, those carefully crafted, reinforced, and honed walls, that were there to prevent suffering, can have a reverse effect, especially if we're around people who are trustworthy and supportive in healthy ways. When we recognize this, and the stifling nature, we feel compelled to "Breakthrough," and "Breakout," of walls that may have become first nature for us.
Roshi saying these things wasn't particularly new to me. As a person in recovery from addiction, what he was saying was the basic premise of healing. What was new was what came next. Genjo Roshi shared that many times, people actually succeed and breakthrough and breakout. The natural inclination when that happens is to try reflexively to get as far away from the cocoon as possible. We can despise and perhaps even hate those walls because they are connected to shame, guilt, and a dark past that we never want to hear from again. What we may not realize is that by doing this, we can create problems for ourselves, cause it's basically discarding, shunning, leaving behind, or throwing away aspects of ourselves, that without re-gathering... assimilating... and re-integrating... the energy... we end up out of balance... perhaps mentally and emotionally lopsided. The punchline is that could be a deep disservice to our inherent Buddha-nature... our Loving Presence nature. It's then Zen practice... Recovery programs... and professional therapy can all be useful. It doesn't have to be one or the other. It can be this And this And this, to accomplish a basic human goal... to be friendly within ourselves in a healthy way, that can be shared forward with others.
His point and demonstrating this within his own life turned out to be a kind of missing link for me. It was a crucial jig-saw puzzle piece that has allowed me to have a deeper level of happiness, that previously wasn't imaginable, from the perspective of the things I'd suffered with. There's a big difference between spiritual theory and spiritual reality. May this be somehow helpful for you.
一Dignity and Grace